I’ll be sending in live updates from today’s Rock the Bells show, throughout the day. Here’s my preview for it from the LA Times.
10:38: I know everyone was expecting a trainwreck and, well, they may very well be getting one. It’s hard to describe but L and her band are crazy “off”. The tempo is a wreck, L keeps gesticulating wildly at the band and singers and nothing is cohering. This is Sly Stone-esque.
10:34: L-Boogie kicks off with “Lost Ones”. The song sounds like it’s on 45 and there’s so much echo on her voice, it’s almost unintelligible. This is weird. Certainly doesn’t resemble the original.
9:31: Havoc came for a quick bow. QB up in this. Then Preem dropped “Nas Is Like” followed by “Made You Look” and everyone hit the stage, including Badu.
9:27: Common just dropped in. He and Nas did a song together?
9:22: “Hate Me Now”? Really? Well, I’m hating this now.
9:17: hmm…they “finished” “Illmatic” but cut many of the songs short even though the album’s only 40 min! Cmon, son. Now he’s doing “One Mic” but you can feel the crowd’s energy flagging. Nas was leaving out entire lines of the song, weird.
9:08: single verse versions of “One Love” “One Time 4 Your Mind,” and “Represent”. Full version of “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”
9:05; “Live the BBQ”
9:00: RON ARTEST in the house. Say Queensbridge
8:48: Preem and Pete and beat battling. First round: “Boom” vs “Shut em Down” remix. Second: “Ten Crack Commandments” vs “The Creator”. 3rd round: “Dwyck” vs “Down with the King”. 4th: “Mass Appeal” vs “Straighten it Out”. 5th:”Full Clip” vs “TROY”. Goddamn that was fun.
8:42: Pete Rock cameo. sprinkles a little bit of Ahmad Jamal. Man, it sounds awesome loud.
8:37: AZ pops in for “Life’s A Bitch” and Primo is Nas’s hypeman/DJ. Wicked.
8:26: Nas opens with the video clip of “Wildstyle.”. PROPER
8:14: Peter Rosenberg dropping a few “where my Jews at?” jokes too many. You’re not on the Westside, dude.
We’ve been here for 8+ hours. Long day, even with press pass privileges. I’m ready for this night to be over but the prospect of Lauryn Hill either redeeming or trainwrecking her show is hard to pass up.
8:00: “Shook Ones II”. I pretty much came here tonite just to hear this. Did not disappoint.
6:56: So this is awesome and hilarious but I just squashed beef with Murs thanks to Thes One brokering the peace. All I need is for Jean Grae and Louis Logic to roll and the armistice will be complete.
Murs gave me and Thes a shout from the stage. This is surreal.
6:05: I won’t front, it’s stunningly beautiful here in the foothills.
Some real shit though? “Enta Da Stage” wasn’t recorded to be performed live. It’s a hard set to get into. Intertwine contrast to “93 Til Infinity” which sounds pretty great live.
4:45: security walking around, confiscating joints. Ha.
4:30: Cypress, doing “Insane in the Membrane”
4:00: Ok, taking a break between acts. Caught some of Common’s set but didn’t stay for long.
Here’s something that hit me about 60% of the way through the Souls set…the up and downside with a classic album performance is that it is completely predictable. Part of the joy of seeing an act you love, live, is hoping – but not knowing – if they’re going to play the songs you love.
But with an “entire album” set, there’s no spontaneity. If you know the album – and partly why you come to these shows is because you do know the album – then you know what song follows what and while there’s something nice about knowing “oh yeah, they’re about to play (fill in the blank)” there’s no element of surprise.
It’s the difference between listening to the DJ and programming a playlist. This is the latter. And it’s still enjoyable but there’s still something vitally missing from the experience unlike a “normal” concert.
Just a thought. Here’s Common, rocking shit.
3:18: A+ talmbout finding the Billy Cobham loop in a dollar bin. These guys seem genuinely happy to be here. “93 Til Infnity” time.
3:00: “that’s when ya lost”. Bass on this is still TREMENDOUS. heard this on KALX (Beni B, what up!) and it floored me. (Tajai still has the best flow in the crew.)
2:54: souls begin the “93 Til” set. I saw these before they even dropped the album at some Hip Hip in the Park event in Oakland back in the summer of ’93.
2:43: waiting on Souls of Mischief. Just passed them backstage so at least I know they’re here. Black Star for cut/skipped. Common supposed to roll main stage but am skipping them on favor of Souls. Hiero!
36 Chambers stage has a solid crowd. Their crew seems to be running a tight ship.
2:05: almost an hour late now. This can’t be good. Crowd booing now. Supernatural stepped up to take up time with some frees.
Dude killed it.
1:40: J-Rocc, djing for Black Star
I feel bad for people in the sun.
1:18: Killah Priest
12:45: arrival: why would you have a festival date in the inland empire, in mid-august? It’s not brutally hot…yet. At the very least, we hit up The Donut Man in Glendora on the way out. Proper.
Organization here is surprisingly lax. Security doesn’t know where to send anyone; we basically were 10 steps from getting backstage without ever having to check-in or show a pass. I’m not complaining, it’s just unexpected for an event of this size and stature.