The arrival of the album Dr. Octagonocologyst was a big event for us rock guys who also liked some hip hop, back in 1996. It had all the right elements for us – a crazily inventive and hilarious rapper in Kool Keith, a supernaturally skilled turntablist in DJ Qbert, and producer Dan The Automator, whose smeared, psychedelic soundtracks provided the perfect backdrop for Keith’s head-spinning narration. The combination of these three titans made for a supergroup that really worked, one that played to everyone’s strengths and resulted in a totally singular sound. It was futuristic and not afraid to say so — its opening track promised the sound that happens when “rap moves onto the year 3000” — without ever losing connection to the old-school sound that Keith helped pioneer when he was in the Funky 4+1.
Poised to make their live debut on the 1997 Lollapalooza tour, the group splintered before the first show, and Kool Keith started his next album with a skit in which Dr. Octagon gets shot to death by his new alter ego, Dr. Dooooom. That left only a classic and influential album by a group that broke up before they could even get started on building a future or disappointing anybody: a legacy as perfect as the Sex Pistols’.
Roughly in time for the twentieth anniversary of the tour that never was, the original Octagon trio started doing gigs again last year, and will be back in LA at the Belasco Theater this Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. A single called “Octagon Octagon” has just dropped, with a full new album due in April. From all signs I can see, the group is fully back and purposeful, having earned raves at its first set of comeback gigs. The chance to see them live feels like a blink-and-miss-it opportunity, so we suggest you follow the trail of gamma light to the Belasco on Monday.
Dr. Octagon appears at the Belasco Theater on Monday Feb. 19, 2018. Tickets, $29.50 plus fees, at Ticketmaster.