Monday, July 30, 2007

Rock The Bells Concert, Day 1-July 28, 2007-Randall's Island

the weather called for rain, but we got lucky (?). No rain but it was so hot and humid for this all day concert on Randall's Island. Wu Tang Clan, Suprnatural, Public Enemy with Chuck D and Flavor Flav with special guest Scott Ian of Anthrax, Cypress Hill, Rage Against the Machine and several more bands had the audience sweltering in the heat.
Here is Jim Farber's review from the NY Daily News:
" It's telling that the biggest hip-hop show to hit New York this year boasts one of the oldest lineups.
At the star-stuffed "Rock the Bells" festival - at Randalls Island yesterday and today - performers with between 10 and 20 years experience dominated. Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, the Roots, Talib Kweli and more appeared yesterday, all leading to the event's trump card: the first New York appearance in seven years by the mighty Rage Against the Machine.
Together, the two shows drew 70,000 fans, with tickets to yesterday's installment having vanished in 20 minutes. That's especially remarkable given the fact that all these acts are well past their CD-selling prime. Of course, a big part of the draw was the chance to see a reunited Rage - which, it should be noted, doesn't qualify as a hip-hop act per se, but as a rock-rap band.
Still, the credibility, and catalogue, of the other bands had to sweeten the deal. And the success of a tour like this, built around the old-school stars, unavoidably tried to advance the opinion that yesterday's hip hop has it all over today's.
Unfortunately, only some aspects of the music made good on that view. Public Enemy made the best case for elder power. They played with a flair, verbal dexterity and intensity nearly invisible among today's most commercial hip-hop acts. The live band behind Chuck D and Flava Flav tore through classics like "Bring the Noise" and "911 Is a Joke" with an inspired fury.
The Roots searched even further back to establish their credibility. They kept quoting soul classics from the '60s (Sly and the Family Stone) and '70s (Kool and the Gang) amid their jazz-rock jams. But the quick tongues of their rappers and the brisk slap of Questlove's drums gave it all a contemporary edge.
Others seemed more dogged by their pasts than inspired by them. Cypress Hill recycled their hits, cynically milking so many pot references they ended up like a hip-hop Cheech and Chong. The members of Wu-Tang Clan lacked chemistry and alluded once too often to their late member, Ol' Dirty Bastard, who might have brought some cohesion. Talib Kweli seemed a bit lost on that huge stage with just a deejay to back him, though he came alive when he traded verse with old collaborator Mos Def.
Of course, Rage remained the big draw. And they fulfilled every possible expectation. Frontman Zach De La Rocha acted as if he hadn't been let out of the house since the last time he played with the band. He exploded like a jack-in-the-box, leaping about the stage with an incendiary anger and rapping his bourgeois lefty lyrics like a human I.E.D. Tom Morello manically attacked his guitar, spitting out industrial strength leads. The rhythm section had the concussive precision of prime Led Zeppelin.
Still, for all the concert's high points, it had about it the fetid air of nostalgia. It's one thing for boomers to moon over their pasts. It's another, sadder thing for an audience of twentysomethings to be looking back with ardor"


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