In my family we like to say, “The more you like music, the more music you like.” I love music and have encouraged my children to love music also. Unfortunately this has caused my children to form their own musical tastes and dabble in rap music. We all know that rap music is the gateway music to anarchy, death, destruction, and the end of mankind. I will admit that I dabbled in rap music when I was younger. I listened to the Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, and De La Soul; but I didn’t get hooked, I knew better than to try the harder stuff like NWA and Tu Pac. I never wore a hat sideways, bought gold chains, or owned a pair of pants that sagged enough to show off my ass. While friends of mine were learning the lyrics of Cop Killer I took a left turn and immersed myself in reggae. (No, I did not grow dreads, or chant down Babylon.)
My children do like the rap music and apparently there is a vibrant and growing rap scene in Seattle, at least this is what I have been told. So when my children expressed an interest in attending The Physics album drop I was concerned. I am one of those older folks who associate most rap music with misogynistic lyrics and anti-authoritarian attitudes, so I told my children I would chaperone them if they paid for everything: my ticket, the ferry ride, the meals, and all the coffee I could drink. They agreed and that is how I ended up at my first rap concert last Saturday.
It was a beautiful day to visit Seattle. The sky was clear and from the ferry the entire Cascade Range was visible from Mount Baker to Mount Rainier. There is no other major city in the US that is as lovely as Seattle on a clear day. This is not an opinion; it is fact.
We arrived in Seattle and headed for Neumos (the club where the concert was to be held) on Capitol Hill. We ate lunch, walked around and looked in the shops, and spent about two hours in Elliot Bay Bookstore. By the time 8PM rolled around I was already tired. I rallied by drinking a couple espresso shots and then went to stand in line for the concert. Most of the people in line were about 12 years old (anyone under 25 looks 12 to me these days.)
We entered the venue and I set up camp as far away from the stage as possible, my kids went the opposite direction. Neumos has an upstairs for over 21 drunks and a lower section for the kids. It did not take me long to feel old since I was downstairs with the kiddies, but I did my best to put my cool on and stood next to a large fan hoping it would blow the noise away once the concert started.
The first 30 minutes of the show were taken up with various strange looking dudes walking on stage and fiddling with turntables and cables. Most of the AV crew looked like they had just escaped from the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Eventually they connected all the right cords and the speakers began pumping out chest crushing bass thumping sounds that probably killed whales in the Puget Sound.
The first act of the night was Brothers From Another and here is where I admit my ignorance: I don’t really know when the group started playing. The DJ was onstage playing records and trying to get the crowd to “put their hands in the air.” He would prance around for a little bit and then grab the mic and give some instructions like he was an aerobics instructor in a bad outfit. I could not get past his hat. It was a blue camouflage canvas hat shaped like the one Gilligan wore on his island. It is the type of hat that I cannot take seriously. Maybe if you live in a retirement home in Arizona you can wear a hat like that, but if you are between the ages of 8-65 you should not wear a hat like this unless it is a joke. Anyway, Gilligan danced around for about two songs and just as I was about to decide he was Brothers From Another (which would be a great name for a solo act) two other guys jumped onstage and started rapping.
How old did I feel at this point? Pretty old. The two kids rapping were probably born last week and everyone else in the crowd was younger than them. They did their best to rhyme and put on a show, but I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to poetry. I’d take Keats over Vanilla Ice any day. I am certain that the finer points in meter, scansion, and slant rhyme would be lost on the Brothers, but I will admit I was entertained. At one point one of the brothers had a cousin come onstage to rap a charming tune, “You ain’t gonna drink my drank for free,” or something like that. Now, whether this cousin was in fact a biological cousin or not could not be determined, but he did bring the median age of people on stage into double digits.
The Brothers finished their set and I thought they did just fine for an opening act. One of the sad things about being an opening act in a smaller club is that when your part of the show is over there is no place to go. So for the rest of the night I saw Gilligan, short brother, and tall brother wandering around like the Israelites looking for the promised land.
Between acts I watched the man with the worst job in the world: the security guy in charge of keeping the alcohol upstairs and the minors downstairs. He had to watch a door, watch the stairs, and check every person passing by for ID. His job only got harder as the night went on. What’s worse than a self-centered 22 year-old girl in a mini-skirt? How about a self-centered 22 year-old girl in a mini-skirt who has had three umbrella drinks.
The second act was set up and ready to roll by about 10PM. These days 10PM is when I set my book down on my bedside table and go nighty-night, but for some reason I wasn’t really tired yet. Maybe it was the espresso, maybe it was because my brain was being concussed by sound waves. Act number two is still a mystery to me. There was one guy named Prometheus (I hope this is his real name and not a stage name), one guy whose name is still unknown, and then there was DJ InfraRed. The name of the group? I don’t know. After the concert my daughter tried to explain the situation to me, but it was like listening to my mom explain how I was related to some person that lives in Florida.
One of the rappers is from the group Blue Scholars and the other two guys were from other groups, so it was either a rap super group or three guys doing rap karaoke.
These guys were good. Now I don’t know what the hell they were saying, but they had great energy, got the crowd going, and put on a show worthy of my attention post 10PM. There was one moment that confused me. Prometheus said he was going to be taking it on the road to Bremerton. Now if you are in Seattle why would you aspire to go to Bremerton? For those of you outside the Northwest I will try to make a comparison. Let’s say you are in New York City doing a rap concert and then for some reason you say, “I’m going be taking this on the road to Rochester.” Maybe I missed something, but heading to Bremerton isn’t really a move in the right direction career-wise, unless you want to get a job in the ship yard. I imagine those jobs pay well and have better hours than rap star.
The rap trio then asked for requests from the crowd, I almost always request Blue Velvet or Just a Gigolo when called upon in situations like this, but I figured DJ InfraRed probably left those albums at home, so I left it up the youngsters in the crowd to shout out requests. One young lady standing near me started yelling, “Rasheeda Jones, Rasheeda Jones…” like she was Biz Markie‘s sister. She kind of looked like Biz Markie too, except in a skirt. Anyway, the group then busted into Rasheeda Jones. Biz Markie’s sister took full credit for the song and would not shut up about it. Act two came to an end and the +21 year olds headed upstairs to get oiled up for the final act of the night: The Physics.
Between sets one of the security guys went to stand in front of the big fan near me and I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but the dude was not bathed in sweet-smelling nectar. No he smelled like hot dogs. If I smelled like hot dogs I would not stand in front of a fan, unless I was trying to entice people into a life of cannibalism. There are two ways to go when smelling like a hot dog: 1. put on a lot of Old Spice, 2. embrace your inner hot dog and rub a cut onion all over your body.
The final act took the stage around 11:15, and when I say took the stage I mean they filled the stage. The stage was not huge but I estimate there are 12,000 people in The Physics. Okay, maybe not 12,000. The number of Physics falls somewhere between MC Hammer‘s stage act and Public Enemy’s (not counting people dressed in military outfits.) To be more exact: two vocalists, two rappers, one DJ, one guy playing a keyboard, and one guy playing a guitar.
The Physics were good. I have even listened to their album Tomorrow People and liked it. The show was going along just fine until they had members of the audience join them onstage to dance around. I kept wondering if the stage could hold all that funkiness. It did, but at the end of the song, when everyone was supposed to head back to the floor, one girl stood on the stage texting while everyone else followed the rules. She just kept texting away as the guitarist tried his best to shoo her away, but she would have none of it. She then interrupted the lead rapper to take a picture. I am not a violent person, but I found myself wishing someone would attack this self-centered moron or at least take her phone and throw it into the crowd where it could be stomped on repeatedly.
The show did go on but we left before it was over. We had to catch the 12:45 ferry back home, so we did not see the end of the show. My children reported a Macklemore sighting, so I assume he hopped on stage with The Physics at some point in the evening, but I cannot report this as fact. I can say that Capitol Hill is still busy at 12:30 in the morning and I did enjoy my first rap concert.