Monday, November 9, 2009

Jay-Z w/ N.E.R.D., J. Cole, Wale @ the Air Canada Centre. Oct. 31.2009.

(via muchmusic)

I was really kind of torn whether or not to write anything about going to see Jay-Z (or, the G.O.A.T.) at the Air Canada Centre on Halloween. If you wanted a recap of the show you'd be best off to check out the Toronto Star or some other legitimate journalistic outfit, and, frankly, I'm not sure if the "indie" (mostly) music blog readership was interested in hearing about the Jigga Man's delivery of "Big Pimpin'" or how the light hit his $50,000 gold necklace. That said, I've never been one to exclusively recap and I've probably driven away all the dirty hippy snobs (maybe it's the name calling?), so, some thoughts on Jay-Z and the arena concert experience:
  • Liz and I walked to the ACC (nice!), grabbed a hot dog on the way (nice!), in retrospect we should've planned our route because it took us approximately 10 mins longer to get there than it should've (25 mins instead of 15, who am I to complain).
  • It was absolute Zoo outside the ACC. In addition to scalpers there was a hoard of guys giving out after-party flyers -- Halloween, Saturday night, etc. I'm a little bit claustrophobic and this was a little disconcerting... we had to try 2 or 3 entrances before we could find one that wasn't horrifyingly crowded.
  • When we finally got in line there appeared to be a scalper trying to talk the (very) young couple out of a pair of tickets and he (the scalper) pulled out a wad of at least $500 bucks. This may become a re-occuring theme, but this is 1.A. -- things you don't see outside Lee's Palace.
  • Also, and I realize it was Halloween, but things were a lot skankier than I was expecting. I mean, I'm sure that Jay-Z has some fans that are strippers, but I'm pretty sure that there aren't that many strippers within driving distance of Toronto.
  • B/c of the great hot dog detour and finding an entrance where we felt like we weren't going to be mobbed or mugged, we only caught the last 3 mins of Wale and J. Cole. I like Wale, the mixtape about nothing was one of my favs of '08, but most of what he was saying was completely inaudible. No big deal.
  • Pharrell was great, but haven't listened to any N.E.R.D. since their first album ... In Search Of so I only recognized a couple of songs. I forgot how raunchy "Lapdance" was...
  • Kudos, to Pharrell for bringing 20-30 girls/women to come on stage and skank it up. If he owns a strip club, this is for sure how he auditions the dancers. On an unrelated note my (future un-born) daughter is never going to a rap concert.
  • By the time everyone had found their seats it began to occur to me how strange a group the crowd was at the concert. In the immediate vicinity of where Liz and I were sitting: 35-40 Black Man w/ appropriately aged Asian GF/wife (right); group of 22 -27 West Indian kids dudes and chicks (further right); group of 16 - 20 Black/White rapper kids wearing jerseys and straight brimmed NewEra hats with the stickers still on (behind); two teenaged girls who snuck in mickeys (plural) of Vodka, and had some pretty serious rapper hands (left).
  • Jay-Z appears, through the bottom of the stage no less, and appears to be completely unfazed by the fact that 20,000 (or however many people fit into a sold out ACC) are screaming at the top of their lungs (less me, I'm half perplexed amazed that this many people are that excited about seeing a single human person perform some songs).
  • To be fair, at that point I was kind of in awe b/c: 1/the response of the crowd; 2/that he is so cool about it; and 3/that he just possesses that je ne sais pas that you can just feel from the first row of the 300 level.
  • Was really impressed with how they set up the stage, very simple, band way back (two drum kits, horn section, plus other instruments), large dark black stage w/ a sort of vertical tiled video screen in behind. Ornate and visually impressive, but definitely not gaudy or over the top. I guess that's what you get when you have a million dollar (estimated) set-up budget.
  • Jay-Z is an entertainer and a businessman, which is something that goes without saying, but his show was certainly reflective of his business interests. Not only does he put on good show (that's probably the best business), and give opening slots to his proteges, but he really canvassed his catalog to make sure that people weren't walking away thinking, I wish I had heart "insert song title here". Of course this meant that with 11 studio albums that he was just going to give us snippets... fine, no biggie. Continuing on that Jay-Z is a shrewd businessman trend, he spent an incredible amount of time 'connecting' with the audience -- thank you for coming, pointing out people in the audience, etc.,... have never seen anyone do that, that much... very shrewd.
  • Lastly, if I had one gripe, it was all of his "if you dream it, you can do it B.S." ... that's all well and good, but you're not really helping anyone with that crap. This is the modern version of the Michael Jordan syndrome - where kids forget school for dreams of playing pro basketball. Of course this is doubly bad when it has never been easier to put out any type of music recording, there has never been less money in the music business, and there has never been a better role model for young minorities (Barak Obama has made smart, cool).

1 comment:

Bobby B said...

"my future unborn daughter is never going to a rap concert" bahahaha!

i'd much rather read one of your writeups of a big scale show than any "professional" one, that's for sure. very entertaining.