Bowery Ballroom is one of the last New York venues still standing from the club kid days. It's a big, clean echoing space with a mirrored lounge in the basement and an iron wrought staircase leading into the mezzanine. It's the kind of space that can be anything, but for a punk show it feels unwelcoming. Good lighting pointed at the crowd almost feels like a threat. A blue and yellow spotlight pinned my friend for five full minutes while he sweated like a guilty man.

The first set was played by Hoddy the Young Jedi and his partner The General, new rappers out of Baseville, New Jersey. Their first album was released in 2019, which they wrote, recorded and produced albums all through the quarantine, including the 2020 single "Wash Ya Hands". After their set, Hoddy talked about being nervous rapping in front of a bunch of punks, but whatever nerves he had weren't obvious from the outside. Hoddy and the General came with supporters who sang along to the chorus and danced with people who had never heard them before. The energy was good, and they looked like they were enjoying themselves by the end of the set.



Show headliner Ho99o9 is working on elevating other artists to work in conjunction with them, telling Jade Gomez for Paste Magazine in 2021, “There’s something powerful in moving as an army, as a unit, as a force [...] It’s paying homage to all the Collectives / Crews like Wu Tang, Dip Set, G Unit, Ruff Ryders, Rawkus, Roc a Fella / State Property, FlipMode Squad, O.F., A.S.A.P.”

It's important to the message to bring up other Black artists from Jersey, and Hoddy appears on Ho99o9's Tuff Talk mixtape, along with N8 No Face, who also played the show.

N8's delivery was completely different from Hoddy's. While his energy was high, N8's was cartoonish and manic, with guttural vocals reminiscent of traditional punk acts.



"It's all traditional west coast vocals, like the Screamers and stuff," he told me. N8 was one of the first people to play entirely digital punk music through samples and synthesizers, and it's still a little jarring to hear noise like that coming from just one man. His music is often described in EDM terms because his performance is so much like a DJ's. At one point he let the backing track play a solo while he double fisted shots and let the crowd do the performing for him.

"I don't think of myself as a producer, I think of myself as a musician," he told me. "I wanted to make punk music but I didn't know any musicians, so I used samples that I had."

The set felt like a punk show even without a backing band. N8 kept the energy high by pulling his shirt up and punching himself in the head. Like Ho99o9's theOgm says, N8 is the original. At 45, N8 is clean, sober, ripped and vibrating with energy. His music covers serious topics about drug recovery and suicide but with self-mocking vocals like Lumpy and the Dumpers. N8's energy and serious topics fit in with Hoddy and Ho99o9, but the ironic self-censorship keeps his act a separate, unique experience.



After the stage was cleared, the machine-gun-wielding skeleton on the stage lit up and Ho99o9 burst on, immediately flattening the audience with a wall of noise. The crowd surged forward, screaming and fighting. A girl kept slamming her nose into the back of my head. One kid hopped up on stage and waved a GOD IS GAY shirt to a roar of enthusiasm.

TheOgm stood behind the skeleton like a preacher at the podium, flipping his dreads over his face. Eaddy, the other member of Ho99o9, used a yellow telephone attachment to add a fuzzy, distant distortion to their vocals. The sound is relentless and the vocals are raw but the energy is warm under the screaming. There’s a lot of love in Ho99o9.

As the set drew to a close TheOgm lit a joint and passed it around to the rest of the band. They looked comfortable on stage. The lights looked good on them.

—Olivia Cieri

Ho99o9 at Bowery Ballroom

More From Invisible Oranges