Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rock the Bells 2008

So for those of you who don't know, me and my boy Kenny Muthajunksta met up with Drums and Scace (+ Mrs. Drums and Ms. Yvette) at the Rock the Bells tour this past weekend in Mansfield (I still call that shit Great Woods 'cause I'm OLD SCHOOL like that, fuck a Comcast Center, or whatever it's called now). Anyway, as you can see from above, the lineup was golden-era sickness on the main stage, with the youngsters holding it down on the second stage.

We rolled up at about 4pm, so I missed most of the second stage acts I wanted to see (the Cool Kids, Kid Sister, Wale) AND we missed Rakim, Immortal Technique, and Dead Prez on the main stage. Truth be told I'm getting old, and 12 hours in the sun standing on a goddamn 30% incline would have seriously killed my staying power. Sacrifices had to be made....But enough about who I missed, the acts I saw were worth the price of admission.

De La Soul: only caught the end of their set, since we were actually entering, getting our bearings, and locating the Mr. Cesspool port-a-potties (that was the actual name. who are the add wizards...?). What I saw was solid (on stage I mean, not in the port-a-potties).

Afrika Bambaataa: on the Chevrolet (second) Stage. If someone had told my rave-crazy ass 12 years ago that someday I'd watch Afrika Bambaataa perform under a giant Chevy logo I would have asked them to buy whatever drugs they were on. Sometimes I still get floored by how marketable and successful club/hip hop/underground culture has become. We've come a long way from illegal raves at the Boston Public Works garages...but I digress. Bambaataa was solid, played mostly remixes of old school jams (kurtis blow, james brown). I left after about 20 minutes to hit the main stage for:

Redman and Method Man: now I was pretty far away from the stage (and the video screens), and it was hot out, and I wasn't what the kids informally refer to as "sober" at that point, but I don't think Meth was there. If he was, he's 50 pounds heavier now and doesn't like to sing songs with his lyrics in them. Almost the entire set was parts of Red & Meth songs that I'm pretty sure didn't include many Meth verses. And joints from Red Gone Wild. Or Doc's Da Name. So given that it appeared to be essentially a Redman show, it was hot. Redman is not only one of the most consistently tight MCs ever, he also puts on a great live show. Thumbs way up for Redman, sorta pissed Meth wasn't there (I think)...

the Pharcyde: they did almost all of the joints I wanted to hear (no Soulflower, though), and they played with a live band, which was tight, but it was a little too groovy after the ruckus that Redman brought. Tough act to follow, though they did their thing. Also, I had been checking Devlin and Darko, which I was feeling (Bmore & some electro/disco shit), so going from that to live Pharcyde was a momentum shift, to say the least.

Mos Def: the most underwhelming act of the day, for me. He pretty much did all of the groovy/interludie/silky songs from his catalog, and was kind of mumbly and uninterested at times, it seemed. Also, I think it should be illegal NOT to perform the Ghostface remix of "Ms. Fat Booty" if Tony Starks is in the same city, let alone on the same lineup. Totally missed opportunity, and sort of obvious at that. We all decided that either A) Redman dosed his drink, B) his hype man had just died and he was glum, or C) with such a sick lineup prior to Tribe, everyone drew straws on who would phone it in, to make sure Tribe was better than SOMEONE, and Mos Def drew the short straw. I'll tell you who absolutely did NOT draw the short straw:

Nas: holy shit. Nas absolutely destroyed it. There was a mini-stampede as he started and everyone went running for their spots, which was scary, 'cause we were sort of in the middle of it, and when hundreds of staggering, sweating, drunken caucasians come running towards you, I don't care who you are, you kind of freak out. But Nas quickly justified the South Shore stampede. He did like half of Illmatic (wise move, given it's the best hip hop album ever). He did all the good joints off It Was Written, he did "Hip Hop is Dead" and "Made You Look," which pretty much blew my brain out the back of my head. The new songs he did were good too (the O'Reilly/Fox dis joint was cool). But the show pretty much peaked when he did "One Mic" just after it got fully dark out, and the lighters came out, the whole place was flickering, and when the chorus first dropped, and the beat kicked in, Nas just blew, and the crowd lost it (I did anyway). Seriously, if you get a chance to go see Nas live, do it.

A Tribe Called Quest: I was a little nervous, I'll be honest. 1993 for me was Tribe's year (also Timothy Leary's year, but that's another post altogether), and Midnight Marauders is up there on my all-time list, so I was bracing myself for the letdown. Q Tip came out with Mos Def (who drank a Red Bull or 6 after his set and was much better) and they both delivered on Q Tip solo joints like "Vivrant Thing" and "Breathe and Stop." But after three or four songs, all of us started to fear that Tribe might be a no-show, and Tip and Mos were filling in or something. But when the lights went down and the narrator from Marauders started with "A. Tribe. Called. Quest. Consists. Of. Four. Members...," we knew it was on. And sure enough, Phife, Ali Shaheed Mohammed, and Jarobi (!) stepped out and fucking killed it. They did all the shit I wanted to hear: the good songs off of Low End Theory (Bonita Applebum, The Jazz, Buggin Out, Scenario), a bunch of songs from Marauders (Award Tour, Oh My God, Electric Relaxation), and not too many from The Love Movement, which I wasn't that big a fan of as far as Tribe albums go. All in all, exactly what I wanted and more than I expected. So good.

Anyway, I'm definitely going to Rock the Bells 2009, if they put one on (or bother with Boston again). Guerilla Union puts on a tight show. See this tour!

(cross-posted at mantisounds, dopest mix sets on the internets ; )

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