BY BEN RUBENSTEIN
When all else fails, mention Jordan and drop a Tribe beat. That's the tried and true method that El-P and his cohorts turned to about midway through their 4:30 p.m. set. El-P admitted early on that it wouldn't be a "pretty" performance, and that was no surprise given the rapper/producer's penchant for cacophony since back in his days with legendary group Company Flow. But for newcomers to the music (which much of the crowd seemed to be, save for a couple of clearly inebriated dudes behind me), the jarring sounds and rapid-fire lyrics of tunes like opener "Smithereens" can be a little off-putting. Eventually, though, the performers -- El-P was accompanied onstage by several live musicians, in addition to another hype man/rapper -- settled into a serious groove, starting with "Everything Must Go" (off 2007's "I'll Sleep When You're Dead") and moving into high gear with a short homage to A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It?" (complete with some keyboard-guitar stylings). By the time El-P launched into an a capella version of Company Flow's "Patriotism," including shout-outs to "bleeding-heart liberal drivel," "media-controlled blurb advertising disillusionment" and "Young Republicans," the crowd had definitely begun to warm to his style. It was hard not to, given the sweaty energy onstage.