Meth & Co. @ Rock The Bells, 8/28/07, photo courtesy of tixgurl @ flickr
Apologies for the month and change delay. I’ve had an amazingly miserable summer.
So you might have noticed the odd sub-header, “Saving Method Man’s Life Since 2006,” and wondered what the hell it was a reference to. Without further ado, here’s that story: last summer, I saw The Wu at Webster Hall, where they suffered some of the same problems that they did at last month’s Rock The Bells. At that show, they were going out, chugging champagne bottles like The Continental, and Meth, as usual, wanted to be all up in the crowd, surfing and shit. One time, he stands on the metal guard rail that stands between the press area and the crowd. Lifted (see “M.E.T.H.O.D. MAN” and not the first John Legend album) off his ass, Meth fell face forward into the crowd. When I say the crowd, though, I mean myself. I was the only one in his way, and got to have the honor of using what little strength I had at this point to stop him from pulling a Phil Leotardo and eating pavement. (SPOILER WARNING, Ben Feingold and others who have not finished the Sopranos, don’t watch that video).
The only problem that really should have been of concern was the fact that at least one of the 8 or 9 (depending on special guests like Redman) microphones was dead or dying. I don’t know why this happened again at RTB, except that, maybe, no venue is used to supporting 9 MC’s. Maybe Wu-Tang Financial should branch off and make mics, I don’t know.
The other recurring problem that they, especially Method Man, had to suffer through, is that they crowd wasn’t amped to their satisfaction. Maybe that’s because they take way too long to come out, again, I don’t know. What I do know is that Method Man loves to reference some show in Germany when the crowd supposedly went apeshit for them for however long the set lasted, no pauses. As much as I even doubt the truth to this story, it’s pretty obvious why it would have happened. Do real rappers, American Rappers, ever go to Germany? When you’re the Wu Tang and you’re playing New York, you’re playing for some people who get a shitload of concerts every month, and have probably seen the Wu perform before, possibly even at full-Voltron capacity with ODB if they were lucky.
Most of the crowd was really into the Wu Tang set, so I’m sorry Meth, I’m sorry that your physical presence doesn’t make people go into OMIGAWD seizures like when the Beatles showed up. Maybe you shouldn’t have done Method & Red, again, I don’t know.
I’ve got no photos of them, but Rage Against The Machine headlined the festival, a hip hop festival featuring two stages of some of the best that the art form has ever offered. The pasty faced Tool-shirted kids near the front of the main stage sort of ignored that memo. They barely nodded their heads during the trio of rarely seen sort of reunion sets from Black Star, Public Enemy, and EPMD, but they went all “Stronger” (“go nuts, go apeshit” isn’t the best line of the year but it’s a fun one) once Rage hit the stage. I like to think of Rage playing shows with mostly hip hop acts on the bill as a gift to their more rock-centric fan base, that they can leave their basements on occasion, that the only guys who should ever think about wearing black eyeliner are Johnny Depp and awkward middle schoolers, and that people should laugh at you behind your back if you wear an Atticus shirt.
Despite their lazy reaction (which wasn’t that pronounced as these kids were lightly salted, as opposed to peppered, amongst the audience) to these acts was interesting because the aforementioned acts didn’t have the same snit fit that Method Man had. The same bitching and moaning that J. Period would heap upon the August 5th Brooklyn NY “Live at the BBQ” crowd. This is the kind of shit that makes me think twice about going to a rap show these days.
And yes, everything you’ve heard about Rage’s reunion sets has been true. They are somehow, still, the most relevant and hardest rocking band in the world. Radiohead played the best set ever at last year’s Bonnaroo, but Rage operates on a whole different level. To avoid using a word as pronoun and as an adjective, the minute Zach de la Rocha got on the mic, years of pent up aggression about every damn thing wrong with this country (a post that will probably be online by the end of the year) turned into the biggest mass therapy session slash mosh pit I’ve ever seen.
Rage played every song you could expect them to, except the one song I was really pulling for, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” It would have been a detour from the amazing machete slash fast pace, so I’ll let it slide.
I tried to avoid hoisting my cell phone up during the concert, because I’ve started to realize how dumb it is to block someone else’s view so you can get a mediocre set of photos on facebook. If I still did that, you’d probably be treated to the image of Chuck D, still the one man in rap you don’t want to fuck with.
Chuck D has the stage presence of a million Flav’s, who came off as less coherent than the worst Flavor/Rock of Love contestants. Flav though, decided to turn about face from hyperbole, and make the understatement of the Aughts when he said that George W. Bush was “not being a good president.” Someone’s been paying attention, I see.
Their set was strong, and well paced, and there’s not much more you can ask, except that it was a bit too predictable. Especially with the appearance of Scott Ian from Anthrax/VH1, weird beard and all, who will never look more normal than when he performs alongside Flav, who looks like an Oompa Loompa that fell into the chocolate river.
DoucheBagaSaurus Rex ©Henry Casey, 2007
This asshole is a prime example of my theory that all Cypress Hill fans are worthless poster-children for abortion. Beyond just looking like a douche, he provided the most disgusting moment I’ve seen in public in years. I guess he thought the port-a-potties were too far away, when he decided to pull his shirt over his empty plastic cup and relieve himself. I was dumbfounded, purely dumbfounded.
He thought he couldn’t leave his prime spot before B-Real and Sen Dog and DJ Muggs hit the stage, so he really thought this was a good idea. This went into America’s Funniest Home Video Slo-Mo mode once I noticed he was emptying the shilalie much much faster than he realized, and then went into some sick demented version of Guys Gone Wild when his cup happened to runneth over. After he must have splashed himself, the cup fell to the ground in front of him. He then ignored it, which is what inspired me to snap the photo and mock him through the interwebs.
Murs (top) and Slug (bottom) are Felt. Both ©Henry Casey, 2007
One of the better examples of a performer getting love from the audience without haranguing them for it was the FELT (Murs, Slug, and Ant) over at the Paid Dues (indie) stage. It’s oddly coincidental that Murs hosted and organized the indie stage on the eve of his move to Warner Bros. Records for the release of “Murs For President,” his first major label album.
“Felt 2” held up in the live show, but as great as that album is, it kinda felt like it was easy for them, that they leaned on each other too much. Slug, admittedly, had a few gaffes. Their sets got better once the solo catalogs were explored. As their set was ending while the sun went down, Atmosphere performed, what to most in attendance was a debut of, “Sunshine,” another of his EP only tracks. And while it was an easy match to the sunset and the beautiful weather, it was not only the right track, but an excellent mellow note in a march of fiery notes.
And here’s a treat for those who made it to the end:
Who knew the Numa Numa dude liked rap? I’m waiting for his take on “Hey Ya”. ©Henry Casey, 2007
– Talib Kweli is decent. Mos Def is not so much, needs to get off his high horse, realize that crowds of girls cooing for him (do they do that anymore, do they coo?) means SHIT to his real fans, and go in the studio and make a real album.
– Hangar 18 needs to put out a second album already. Is El-P back on the Oxy?
– I’ll say it again, you shouldn’t ever wear, much less ever see, an Atticus shirt at a hip hop concert. That dude should have a lifetime ban.
– Crowd Surfing should not be permitted. The second time someone reaches the front, they should be thrown out of the concert. I don’t want to help pass your drunk sunburnt ass to the front of the crowd. I’d rather knife you.
– Things seemed good between Ghostface and the RZA, thankfully. I would have really enjoyed it, though, if Ghostface Ether’d Tony Yayo, another schmuck who should be facing a life time ban from hip hop.