I haven't been to a rap concert in many a moon. I went to something called K-Ci and Jojo w/ 98 Degrees at Starlake, but I have absolutely no idea what transpired. That show was back in 2001 and it was more of a boy-band nonsense show. This one was probably the most sought after rap show of the year. I hastily made a sign which accurately reflected my desire to see the concert.
Yep. That pretty much sums it up.
I cruised up to meet Gig. Got to her place around 5pm and consumed a small amount of lasagna, salad and an obligatory piece of garlic bread. But the garlic flavor was virtually nonexistent. For it was just a hint. Not reminiscent of some earlier clovular and nutmegging schemes I have grown accustomed to. Regrettably, the opposite happened to my side salad. I accidentally bombarded it with a deluge of balsamic vinaigrette. How can they not install those plastic safety caps on all salad dressing containers? Weak. If only I had been paying closer attention to the dressing dispersal pattern. It's not like me to be so aloof when it comes to pouring methodology.
So we bolted out at 6:15 p.m. Showtime was set for 7. With no opening act, I wondered why the doors would open so early. I had downloaded a weak audience recording of the show from Greensboro, NC. I just wanted to absorb the sound, atmosphere and set list from the infamous "Watch the Throne" tour.
We zipped down past the Pig Bar. Is it still open? Is it closed? These are questions that plague mens' souls. Fortunately, I am indifferent. We ate there over the summer and it was mediocre at best.
A large crowd had gathered outside Consol. You gotta get in there early. Oddly enough, there was no opening act. So Jay-Z and Kanye didn't go onstage til 9:20pm. That gives you almost 2 1/2 hours to sample the arena cuisine and buy some horrifically overpriced beverages. Fortunately, we don't pursue that course of action. I cannot fathom standing around for all that time.
We surveyed the scene and Gigi quickly snagged 2 free tickets from a radio station guy. Upper level comps. Plenty of tickets were floating around. We went in a little after 8pm. I had some pretty severe heartburn and wanted a couple antacids. So we went to the first aid room on the lower level. BAM! This is a great way to get on the lower concourse without being sneaky. Just tell them you need to go to the First Aid room. It's right near the Nakama outlet.
We decided to skip our usual seats on the side of the stage. There were some rolling lounge chairs in front of us. So we just stood behind them. Great area to watch an end-stage concert. Close to the action, but you don't have to worry about dumbshits crowding you out and bumping you.
The structure of the stage was completely bad ass. Basically, it had these two mammoth cubes that would elevate. Just two background "musicians" - both equipped with keyboards and one that occasionally played bass. Two huge widescreens which featured vintage footage of 60's and 70's material. National geographic stuff (cheetahs and assorted animal attacks), riots, cop car chase scenes, civil rights moments, military engagements - all the sequences were spot-on.
The stage itself was enormous but very sleek. All jet-black with one main ramp. Plenty of fiery explosions and a piercing laser show. Their lighting rivaled just about anything I've ever seen on the arena circuit.
The crowd energy was exceptional. Everyone remained standing the entire concert, bouncing around, hippity-hopping and making frequent triangular hand gestures. Their purpose??? To ingratiate themselves with all that is thuggin'. We did witness the occasional "monster hoochie mama," but for the most part, the crowd was white and in their twenties and thirties.
Jay-Z and Kanye came out for what seemed like low-energy openers. Until they got to Welcome to the Jungle. Then things picked up a little. These guys have tremendous stage presence and did a great job of alternating. Although different stylistically, they really complement each other. Favorite moments included Flashing Lights, Public Service Announcement and Empire State of Mind. We skipped out on the final 15 minutes or so.
Made it back to the house just after the Steelers defeated Chiefs 13-9 in what was obviously a lethargic victory. We made the right choice. And we didn't even need to use the "Cracker Jew" sign (which I'll willingly admit, was a tad excessive).