poison to the mind

27Apr/08Off

doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it at a substantial loss

For some reason, big hip-hop acts have trouble with promoters in Australia. OK, perhaps in a lot of cases it's dudes like Busta blowing out two tours then sitting backstage once they finally come to the country and refusing to go on stage unless they're delivered an extra 10k in cash (dude! you can't even spend it at home!) making it not worth the effort of dealing with them, but it always seems to be fly-by-night desperadoes with no rep trying to bring them out. And then putting them on in 12,000 seat arenas that have to be curtained off when the tickets don't sell...

I mean, this goes way back, right? It's why the Mystik Journeymen were able to tour twice a year in the '90s when no-one in America had even heard of them. (Hey, there are probably guys who were in the Mystik Journeymen who don't even remember the group anymore.) But there'll be the odd one who comes out with a rock promoter, plays established live venues (as opposed to sports venues or dodgy nightclubs), and builds a tourable rep. Jurassic Five, the Oasis of rap, may have done better here on tours than they did on sales.

But even Jay-Z couldn't sell the Entertainment Centre. Ice Cube did it right last year - returning after playing a beer barn 12 years before (officially named as the most violent pub in Sydney by police recently!) - put on one night in a thousand-seater theatre, sold it out. Put on the next night, sold it out. Added a third, sold that. [The promoters probably could have gotten away with not calling it "The Straight Outta Compton Tour."

So it was ludicrous to see LL Cool J last month having to move his show from a sports arena out at the Olympic complex, on three days notice, to that same theatre (near the city and public transport). And it not being sold out; they had to put seats in downstairs, and not even open the balcony. Maybe 600 tickets sold for what was meant to be a 6000-seater? The promoters resume is a list of shit that never actually happened - did Mobb Deep blow them off, or did they not have the money, or...? - but can't they take a cue from a tour that actually worked?

flanked

Anyway, what the fuck - it meant I got excited and bought a ticket that morning because dancefloor 5m from performer > hard plastic seats 300m from stage, you know? To LL's credit, he didn't pout about it in the least, as far as the audience could see - big "I've waited a long time to come down here..." build ups from offstage, lots of "I appreciate you coming out"s in the set, and a fully-engaged performance. Probably brought about 100 more girls and dudes up for their four minutes of dancing than he would have at the other venue. And dig this for a band: Cut Creator AND Bobcat! The latter mainly on cuts, it seemed, and the former running backing tracks - but they were definitely both doing shit live and able to switch up on notice, no DAT with occasional wicky-wicky over the top; a couple of times LL had them swap a beat, or bust them for fucking up a cue, or go back and do a few false starts.

But again the promoters' inexperience hit - the sound was just shit and muddy throughout. LL's mic was about the same volume of his tracked vocals on choruses, there were no highs, bass drums sounded like wood being slapped with an enormous wet sock instead of, you know, a drum head or 808 echo. And the number of actual classics he tore through (in a 90-odd minute set - Missy did 15 on $120 tix back in 2003ish) was totally VFM, but almost all of them finished on "Say yeah.... now SCREAM!" You've had actual hits in more voices than almost any other rapper ever tries even using in skits, change up the schtick a bit too, Todd?

Carping though - I knew what I was getting myself in for. Here's a real thrill moment, however: LL coming out with Erick and Parrish late last year to bust Rampage (the first time I've ever heard "rhymes up the ass" in the song!).

EPMD & LL Cool J - Rampage (live)

Buy: I ganked this from Outside Broadcast - Eli's out here in a couple of weeks too, so maybe go spend to get in for that? It's $20 for some guy with a blog, though. Hey, maybe if he plays the backing track from So Fucking Disco for an hour....