P.O.S / Feb. 21, 2009 / New York (Mercury Lounge)

A founding member of the Minneapolis hip-hop label Doomtree Collective, P.O.S. has fought hard for respect in the depths of underground rap music. Touring with acts like Atmosphere and Minus the Bear, P.O.S. (aka Pissed Off Stef/Promise Of Stress) seemingly always ends up an opening act. However, this past February, he kicked off a headlining tour with fellow label mates Mike Mictlan and Lazerbeak (Hand Over Fist) and Sims.

“This is the first time I’ve ever sold out a show in New York!” he proudly exclaimed from the front of the stage at Mercury Lounge.

Opening act Mictlan didn’t even take the stage until 11 p.m. Making up for his lack of height with his significant stage presence, Mictlan proceeded to lift up the mic stand, which stood a good foot or two above his head, and swung it from one end of the stage to the other encouraging the crowd to “make some noise.” He performed ten tracks that most of the crowd knew by heart with beats provided by his Hand Over Fist partner, Lazerbeak.

Not five minutes after Mictlan’s departure, Sims was on stage, visibly eager. He apologized to fans that he would be testing out some new tracks, and after a positive response, Sims proceeded to get the crowd jumping with politically passionate rhymes and pulse-pounding beats provided by Lazerbeak. He performed fan-favorites like "15 Blocks" and "Lucky" before bringing Mictlan out for a couple of duets. To finish off his set, he wowed the crowd with a freestyle rap and some old-school dance moves.

By the time P.O.S. took the stage, it was well after midnight and blazing hot inside the club. Lazerbeak traded places with Plain Ole Bill, and P.O.S warmed up by tuning his electric guitar as "The Brave and the Snake" off his new album "Never Better" played in the background. Like Sims, he announced that most of his set would be new tracks, and no one was more surprised than he when the crowd rapped right along with him.

Tracks like "Yeah Right," "Safety in Speed (Heavy Metal)" and "P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life" from his previous release "Audition" were among few deviations from "Never Better." After saying his goodbyes, P.O.S. invited Mictlan and Sims back out to come down into the crowd and finish off his set with a bang, aka Stand Up off of Audition.