October 10, 2011
Better than...hip-hop shows without electric fiddle.
Lupe Fiasco's "Generation Laser" show last night at the Palladium did not seem like it was going to go well. A couple hours after the doors opened, the venue was still half-empty, and the crowd didn't seem particularly interested in the night's first two openers, Young Marqus (a fairly talented eleven-year-old who did an a cappella rap about Obama and kissing ladies backed by his mother) and Sarah Green (the guest vocalist on a handful of Lupe tracks).
After their short sets, people clapped politely but screamed "LUPE! LUPE! LUPE!"But the next act up, Philadelphia rap duo Chiddy Bang, turned the night around. Chiddy--who broke the Guinness World Record for Longest Freestyle Rap a few years back--did a killer freestyle, knitting together words given to him on a paper plate: "In N Out burgers," "Elijah Wood," "Lil B," "watermelons," and "Steve Jobs." The crowd erupted in applause, finally shaken out of their boredom, ready for the party to start.
Lupe Fiasco finally came on stage. Touring in support of his long-delayed, label drama-riddled third studio album Lasers -- which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 but got unenthusiastic-to-scathing reviews from critics back in March -- he brought with him a capable full band, which included three back up singers and a skilled fiddle player.
His moves and charisma were more fitting of a rock star playing a stadium show, rather than the 4,000-capacity Palladium. Wearing a leather jacket over an "OCCUPY" shirt, skinny jeans, and skull and bones cuffs, he thrashed around the stage, bringing a foot-stomping, head-banging energy rarely seen at hip-hop shows. He spit water all over the audience, struck a few Jim Morrison-like poses, and watched as fights erupted in the photo pit.The Chicago MC opened with "Words I Never Said," the fiery second single off Lasers. For the next two hours, he ran through most of his new album, with a few hits from his 2006 debut Food & Liquor and 2008's The Cool.
And he got political in between numbers too, as we all knew he would. First he called for a moment of silence--"If you know why, I'd like you to join me"--then he made a public service announcement--"Support your local homeless shelters, the food pantries, plant a tree, support local charities, and occupy Wall Street all day all week"--and finally, he brought a Palestinian flag on stage during "Show Goes On." Pretty tame for Lupe though, considering the media frenzy he stirred up with his recent CBS interview in which he called Obama a terrorist and declared voting meaningless.