I'll get to the review in a second, but let me take you through the activities that lead up to the show.
At 7, I went to a MoveOn.org meeting. The meeting was to discuss the progressive agenda of MoveOn and to discuss the grass roots actions planned in the coming months. The four main focus issues that were decided on by the members of MoveOn nationally are 1. Restoring Democracy, 2. Clean Energy, 3. Universal Healthcare, and 4. Getting out of Iraq. There was a huge turnout which was amazing...usually political participation drops off sharply after an election, especially if you consider your side "winners". This group was convened to let our representatives know that we're not just content with a Democratic majority in the house and senate, but that we are looking for progressive leadership and a sharp pull from the right. A representative from Susan Davis' office was present and made everyone feel pretty good to be there. We are starting on a project called a photo-petition that I will be bugging all of my friends about in the near future, so consider yourself warned. I'm talking all this political mumbo jumbo because it really did something to my state of mind for the rest of the night.
By 9 pm, I'd arrived at the show, bumped into a couple friends and headed into the show. The Banned opened the show. Nothing really stood out to me lyrically, but they were a good opening band. The bassist/singer made some political and religious comments in between songs that kinda got the small crowd fired up, but the room was still too empty for any real energy from the crowd. The funk guitar riffs mixed with the bass, drums, and turntablist's samples did make for an overall good sound. I'd probably be much more into hip-hop if more artists were backed by a full band and played real instruments. Well, and if today's hip-hop didn't just generally suck.
Between bands I ran into Mr. Pyles who was flying solo, too, so we hung out during the next group, X-Clan. This, in typical hip-hop fashion was one main rapper and a dj, and two backup dudes, one who mostly just danced around the stage with the Pan African Red, Black and Green flag. (from wiki: This flag was adopted by the members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League(UNIA) at their convention held in Madison Square Garden on August 13,1920) Their lyrics were predominantly about brotherhood, educating the incarcerated, black leaders like Marcus Garvey, taking hip-hop back to 'true hip-hop', and general social justice. The new X-Clan album called "Return From Mecca" drops in January. Sounded pretty good to me, but I was fired up from my MoveOn meeting so any political banter and lyrics got me more inspired.
The break between bands was unusually long, it seemed, for House of Blues, but I guess to be expected. I had heard that Flava Flav was too late to the in-store and then really late for sound check, so why would they actually be ready to perform on time? It probably worked to everyone's benefit because suddenly the concert hall was packed. I was actually surprised because I've been to rap and hip-hop shows in San Diego before and the 9% of the African American population usually seem underrepresented, but not this show, which made me happy because the diversity offset the white boys with their sideways ball caps and saggin pants.
When Public Enemy finally hit the stage, the crowd was amply lubed from drinks and pumped from the energy. At times the lights reminded me of TJ, but other than that, the energy in the room couldn't be contained. At several points throughout the night I could feel the wind against my face from the bass. I was actually thinking about how I was going to write this posting today while at the show, and I have to be me so you won't read any "off the hook"s from me, but I was into it. I'm generally against the group hand clap that happens at rock shows and so I have an equal aversion to waving my hands in the air like I just don't care or throwing up a peace sign if I'm a true souljah, but when Chuck D hit the second or third song called "Son of a Bad Man" and got the crowd to raise their middle fingers while chanting "Fuck George Bush" and "Fuck Dick Cheney", how am I to resist?
I had separated from Pyles and Owen and somehow I found myself at the very front of the stage with only one person back from the railing. I actually felt bad when Flava Flav came to our corner to high five and grab hands and knock knuckles and I didn't throw up my hands. PE played all the hits they were expected to (Fight the Power, Shut Em Down, Power to the People, etc.) and mixed in current issue focused songs. In between, Chuck D preached about the unlawful war in Iraq (instigating a chant "Make Love, Fuck War"), clarifying that he doesn't blame the soldiers but their ignorant leader. He also read a "missing person" ad handed to him from the crowd, saying that we need to watch out for our brothers and sisters.
And then I got mad. It suddenly occurred to me that while most artists shy away from political limelight, Public Enemy has thrived off of it, and as I looked around I wondered how many of all these people screaming "fuck Bush" and "fuck war" actually voted. The "revolution" ain't happening just because you buy a fucking CD or get all fist pumping one night of the year at a hip-hop show. This overwhelming feeling came to me and then Flava Flav started deviating from the set asking if the crowd remembers his show "Flava of Love" and if we love "Flava of Love" and if we watch "the number one show in America: Flava of Love" and then he pulled up from the crowd some chick who was on the show and interrupted as Chuck D tried to introduce his band and crew onstage. Chuck D appeared visibly annoyed by the grandstanding and as the introduction got longer and longer, I decided it was time to call it a night. I don't know how much longer they played, but I was home by 11:45.
I owed it to my dog to let her out for a few and then headed to the Ken Club for the first ever Tuesday Night Karaoke. I had no idea what to expect but it was actually kinda cool...the machine was set in the corner where the front pool table used to be before it was destroyed by the A/C, and they were backed by one of those red foil shredded curtains like a bad 70s prom and people were singing...a lot of them. It has been a long time since I've seen the bar like that on a Tuesday, so seeing as my support wasn't needed, I walked home and crashed out.
Here's the rest of my plans for the week:
- Tonight: The Faint & Ratatat
- Thursday: TNT & The Little Ones & Small Sins @ HoB
- Friday: (half day of work!) La Pastorela @ The Old Globe LD Festical Theatre. Depending on when that ends, I could pretty much go anywhere...the Whistle Stop for Old Man Hands, the Casbah for Fifty on Their Heels/¡Society!/Que'st Que C'est, the Zombie fo the Infants, or the Ken Club for ADHD and the Widows because it's close to home...
- Saturday: 94/9 Holiday Hootenanny! Preparty added! 5-6 (or 5:30- 6:30?) on Rimac field featuring Beer! For Sale! and a performance by Delta Spirit.