Photo Credit: Wes A.
“Only eight of you at a time,” said the House of Blues security guard to a group of us as we headed to the main floor. “Otherwise the elevator will get stuck.”
It was me, Diz Gibran, DJ Kiilu and Tony from around the way. Five minutes ago we were backstage with Pac Div and The Cool Kids before they and The Knux opened for Q-Tip. Now we found ourselves rushing to catch Pac’s first number. The large elevator doors slid open and a group of dudes walked in, followed by myself and a guy wearing a black windbreaker. The doors closed. One guy pressed the button… then he pressed another… and another.
Ain’t that about a bitch. Stuck.
“How many we got?” someone called out, counting heads and ending with me and ol’ Windbreaker over there. We avoided each other’s gaze in shame. Nine and ten.
“We got ten,” said Kiilu, turning toward me as if my 120 was what halted the freight. “Who are you?” The nine dudes busted up laughing; even the folks I knew.
“Uh, I’m LC,” I said and then pointed at Diz. “I interviewed him at your house!” Them nine dudes still laughing.
“Oh that’s right!” said Kiilu. He paused. “So how have you been?”
By the time we finally got out of the elevator, we ran down a flight of stairs and were greeted by another security guard checking wrist bands with a meticulousness only known by the douchiest of bouncers. He motioned for me to bare my naked wrists. He opened his mouth to nay-say my entrance when out of no where Tony-from-around-the-way came up behind me and said “It’s all good… She’s with us,” and walked through with me as if we were part of the same circle. Two minutes earlier no one wanted to lay claim to the ninth person on the eight person elevator — now I was “with” them. An unforeseen niche.
When we entered The House of Blues I surveyed a crowd of folks who all looked familiar, yet I didn’t recognize a single one of them, and finally spotted folks I could level with across the entirety of the club — Haircut standing with Peanut Butter Wolf. Thank you, God. I left my elevator fair-weather friends and made my way over to Cut and Wolf. We bullshitted for a minute as the house filled with equal parts male and female, hipster and head, fedora and Fendi alike; a widespread demographic wherein lies the appeal of Q-Tip.
When Pac Div kicked off the show, some knew who they were, other’s didn’t, but without question everyone was feeling them by the time they got to “Mayor,” doing the fly dance with them. All hands were up for “Real” and all feet moving during “Taste.” The group looked more comfortable on stage than I’d ever seen them — BeYoung still in his camouflage shorts, Mibbs still sweating through to a tank top and Like keeping the flow of the show, but all of it with an added swag unseen in months previous. They looked at home.
Then The Knux took the stage rocking matching black outfits; the tightest of tightpants, the deep-V tees, the leather jackets. Realizing I’ve talked enough smack about them to get Dee Barnes-ed backstage, I decided to dismiss preconceptions and feed off the crowd reaction, which ended up being null and void outside of a few actual boos. They had the momentum at the top of their set when they launched into “Bang Bang,” had lost it by “Daddy’s Little Girl” and were dead men walking at the close of “Cappuccino.” There was barely a clap to see them off the stage — furthering confusion over the demographic they’re appealing to.
Awkwardness was at a premium in The House of Blues before The Cool Kids entered to alleviate the headache and revive a near catatonic crowd. The low winding grind of The Bake Sale beats are hard pressed to be the adrenaline shot necessary for the heart of a crowd lost to Remind Me In 3 Days, but Chuck and Mikey worked with surgical precision over joints and lyrics everyone seemed to recognize. The two freshman class MCs appeared practised upperclassmen, building the house up with the fortifying thumb of “Pennies,” and then ripping the shit to the ground with a Pac Div assisted “Black Mags.” The masters of their domain… rulers of the almighty niche.
For better or worse, The Niche is the thing nowadays. Music, magazines and television are all fragmented into sub-sub-sub-genres to the point of delirium. Myriad pinpointed options to choose from and express a sense of self is a lovely freedom, but the paradox of choice is the more matieral we have to choose from, the more we lose ourselves in an inability to connect with others. Common ground is, in essence, lost to the sub-genre. The Niche is a bittersweet reality — giving each of us a Pac Div or Cool Kids or Knux to love, but preventing us all from uniting over a modern Illmatic. The Niche has created the 3.5 Cig rating.
“Well,” I said, “I’m out.”
“What?! You’re not going to wait for Q-Tip?” asked Haircut, “I hear he has a live band.”
“Nah, I’m sure he does. I’m sure he’s going to be amazing. But Black Milk is performing down the street and, you know, I got to support the people.”
With that I took my leave for the place I’d recognize the crowd and faces. Somewhere packed full of 90 percent gully ass dudes with dusty tattoos and attitudes. Somewhere where the acts opening up look like they sell their bootleg demos on the corner, saying “You like Hip-Hop?” Somewhere where Bishop Lamont’s muscle-bound self livens the place with Caltroit and Detox. Somewhere where Black Milk puts on a show more live than I knew he had in him, with drums, keys and an MPC to lace a TRONIC set. Somewhere where everyone knew every word and just didn’t give a fuck what they looked like singing and rapping along to “Losing Out” or “Give The Drummer Sum.”
I would have liked to see Q-Tip perform…I heard he absolutely murdered his set.
But so did Black, and this is my niche.
To find out more information about the 4th annual Bounce Tour, and to find the nearest stop, please visit http://www.2ksports.com/bouncetour.
Check out www.coolxkids.com for the chronicles of Chuck & Mikey as the travel the country on the Bounce Tour.