Q-Tip, The Cool Kids, The Knux House of Blues November 19, 2008
Better Than: Sitting at home remembering when hip-hop was still good.
As far as opening bands go, The Knux was a decent, average opening act. The reaction from the crowd was tepid and it was obvious the audience wanted to move on and see the main supporting act, The Cool Kids.
But The Knux didn’t let the limited crowd response hamper its show; the duo continued to work the crowd and, eventually, (mostly) won it over toward the end of the set.
But, when the act asked the crowd if it was ready to see The Cool Kids, the roar confirmed that, as dutifully as the act opened this evening's bill, this wasn't a The Knux show.
Meanwhile, The Cool Kids' set was even more raucous and energetic than its show at The Granada the last time the duo was in town.
Even though the floor still wasn’t completely full yet, it was that obvious everyone was into the performance as The Cool Kids had the crowd eating out of in their bouncing-in-the-air hands. Whether performing “Mikey Rocks,” “Black Mags” or “Gold and a Pager” the crowd was dancing, bobbing its heads, bouncing its hands and rhyming along to every word. There was a lot interaction with the crowd on this night.
After The Cool Kids' set, the darkened venue signaled the impending arrival of Q-Tip, and the roar of the crowd was deafening despite the fact that the venue still hadn't filled.
And, as DJ Scratch started off the night with a vocal sample taken from a Barack Obama speech, the crowd cheered even louder for the “Yes We Can” President-elect.
The energy during the first half of Q-Tip’s set was up and down. He would go from spastic front man, to crooner, to an almost preacher-like persona.
“Chill out money!” he directed at a fan who was getting a little bit unruly. “We’re all here to have a good time, so chill out.”
The middle part of Tip’s set was DJ Scratch getting the unknowing crowd ready for what to come in the last part of the show. As Scratch removed his shirt to reveal a Superman t-shirt, Tip narrated the humble beginnings of Scratch, who “set out to get rid of sucker DJ’s with the flick of his wrist”, and the DJ showed his impeccable skills on the one’s and two’s as he tore through his bag of DJ tricks and dropped old school Native Tongue songs. The crowd jumped up and down and roared with approval.
The acts on the bill perfectly mimicked Q-Tip’s performance: warm, hot, boiling. And this was exactly how Tip finished out his set--boiling--as he ripped through classic A Tribe Called Quest cuts like “Bonita Applebum,” “Electric Relaxation,” “Award Tour” and “Scenario/Check The Rhime.”
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Once he jumped into “Scenario” the crowd went absolutely ape shit--people were jumping all over the place and were singing loud enough to be heard over the bass heavy PA.
At one point, Tip came down to the edge of the crowd and let an audience member spit a few verses of “Check The Rhime” and he pulled it off flawlessly as Q-Tip smiled with approval and the crowd chanted “Go! Go! Go!” It was one of those moments where you think to yourself, "OK, this is hip-hop."
Critic's Notebook Random Note: The Knux had two young dudes joining them on stage, trying their best to look intimidating. But, all I could think was they looked like an Emo version of Public Enemy’s S1W. Sad.
By The Way: I’m not sure if a show being on a Wednesday was the reason for a weak turnout, or the fact that Q-Tip hasn’t had an album out in nine years, but, the crowd at House of Blues was pretty weak. Sure, the general admission area was mostly full, but the balcony was sparse to say the least. It was disappointing to see such as small crowd bear witness to one of the greatest artists hip-hop has seen. --Lance Lester