Sunday, March 27, 2011

Show review: Lupe Fiasco at the House of Blues, 3/26

Posted by Frank Krolicki

Lupe on 'The Show Goes On' video shoot (
After a painfully long wait, the title of Lupe Fiasco's single "The Show Goes On" held true for a sold out crowd at the House of Blues Saturday night, when the rapper took the stage to celebrate the release of his latest record, Lasers. Unfortunately, the show went on in an incredibly late and extremely unsatisfying fashion. It was pretty much a huge debacle that left Lupe's hometown fans feeling gypped.

Before I go into detail, I have to admit that I haven't been to many rap/hip-hop shows. In fact, the ones I have seen have been at outdoor music festivals, so I'm not really sure if there's typically a different order of things than there is at rock shows. I seriously doubt it, though, by how the audience - made up of visibly enthusiastic, major fans - reacted to the way the night played out.

Beginning long before Lupe came out, a seemingly endless lineup of DJs and emcees performed, some more entertaining than others. Fine. We all expect opening acts at shows and most of us are perfectly happy to watch them in order to get to the main attraction. These opening acts were so drawn out Saturday night, though, that eventually the crowd got restless. After all, we paid the 40 bucks (or more) to see Lupe; not for the preceding acts to make up the majority of the show. When the same DJs emerged for the third or fourth time as 11 p.m. quickly approached with no sign of the headliner, some even began booing. A bit harsh, maybe, but after around two-and-half hours of the openers, you get to the point where you just want to see what you paid for.

After they left, we waited some more. And then things started to get truly ridiculous. A man - who I assume was a part of Lupe's crew - came out and began repeatedly shouting at the crowd to "calm the fuck down" and "show some respect." If this was his way of trying to quell everyone's restlessness, it did just the opposite. Respect works both ways, and people don't pay their hard-earned money to go to a show to be talked down to, especially when they're not getting the experience they paid for. The crowd booed and jeered him off the stage, and rightfully so.

And then - surprise, surprise - there was even more waiting. 11:30 came and went. So did 11:45. Periodically, someone would come out and promise that Lupe was "on his way." Still, minutes passed and nothing would happen. The show was supposed to be over at midnight, so people naturally began to doubt if Lupe was going to be a part of it at all. Some even left.

And finally, a little past midnight, he appeared. Most people got excited and seemed to temporarily forget all that had gone down (or hadn't gone down), but after the first song was done we waited for some sort of explanation. It never came. All that was said was something to the effect of, "We're a little late....better late than never." The night still might have been salvageable if we got a good performance, but we sadly didn't, by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, the rapping was fine, but the set was just 30 minutes of (for the most part) song snippets rapped over backing tracks. It seemed that as soon as favorites such as "Kick, Push" or "Daydreamin'" began, they would abruptly transition into another track. I'm not sure there's any way you could spin a half hour of that into something that would justify the ticket price and hours of waiting.

Lupe ended this brief, phoned-in performance with the statement, "See you in two months at the real show." "Real" show? Does that mean everyone spent a good deal of money on something that was never intended to be a real show? Funny, it wasn't billed that way. It was simply billed as an "album release party," and all the album release parties I have been to have featured full sets by the headlining acts.

A show like Saturday night's is especially upsetting when it's coming from someone so talented and respected. There's no reason for it. The fact that it was in front of a hometown Chicago audience makes it even more puzzling. If there was an explanation, we might have understood. Instead, the whole experience came off as a major slap in the face. Today, Lupe's Facebook page is flooded with comments from let down fans such as "What a waste of time and money. How are you gonna treat your hometown fans like that Lupe?," "Fraud" and "I felt like a kid who just found out Santa Claus isn't real."

We can only hope this ordeal was a fluke, and not a reflection of how Lupe feels about his fans. Otherwise, the fans might not be around for long.


Check out more show reviews:
Hemmingbirds at Lincoln Hall
Maps & Atlases at Lincoln Hall
Flogging Molly at Congress Theater
Louis and the Hunt at Schubas
The Pogues, Titus Andronicus at Congress Theater


  1. I'm with you brotha... it was a let down.

    However, this is what i think happened... i say "think" because in all honesty, i have no idea if this is the reality, but here we go--

    You said "There's no reason for it."
    But have you listened to Beautiful Lasers? I mean really listened to it...

    Lupe is depressed. His album was censored by a corrupt record corporation. His fans hear the lyrics "9/11 Building 7, did they really pull it?" and don't even know what it means...

    Think about it this way--he is trying to start a Revolution and this is all that matters to him. That was what he wanted to do with LASERS. And it's not working because his fans don't listen to the lyrics... they go in one ear and out the other.

  2. Hey Michael, thanks for the comment. Good observation - it very well could be true. Even if it were the case, it would still be pretty hard to justify Saturday's show, though.

    I don't know all the details of the situation, but if he doesn't like what he's having to put out on the label, why doesn't he just self-release? That's really the only way to do exactly what you want to do as an artist.

  3. This was billed as a Release Party for a reason. It was never meant to be a full on show...HOB did a terrible job at labeling it the right way and made it look as if it would be an actual full on Lupe concert. Maybe in the future events like this will be labeled more appropriate.

  4. Sean, I have heard other people mention that, too. The thing is, in my experience, a record release party and an actual show are pretty much the same thing, just with the idea that a record release party is celebrating a new release. But as I mentioned in my review, I don't have a lot of experience with rap/hip-hop shows so maybe it works differently in that genre. All I know is people definitely did not receive what they thought they were paying for.

  5. I've been to a lot of shows, at a lot of venues for a lot of reasons. I've never been to a show at HOB that started remotely on time. And I've never paid $40+ dollars for a 30 minute headliner. A cd release is usually a set where the act plays the new CD plus their best older songs. HOB is lucky their crowds have never rioted. Of course, that may be because their security has a reputation for being the most aggressive in Chicago.

  6. Sean, I understand what your saying that the promoters of the "Release Party" used ambiguity to sell the event.
    However, Lupe has to take full responsibility for this fiasco considering his name is on it. Lupe has to be more aggressive in making sure that these commercial/corporate forces do not take advantage of this extremely loyal fanbase. This was the exact same case with the pre-Album laser projections in NY and LA.

    All we are asking is that Lupe shows the same concern you (Sean) would show if the "The Lupend Blog" was used in the promotion of an even that you ethically would no approve of.

    Fans/consumers deserve to now exactly what they are paying (and not in fine print)

    The average fun would have the same details about the show as you or me, hence he/she should be protected. I'm sure the show would still have sold out(if not within 48hrs at least 96hrs)

  7. Completely agree with this all, except when he said the thing about being late he was referring to the date of the concert not being held closer to album release, not to the actual fact of being late on stage....pretty disappointing....

  8. Ah, I didn't quite catch that distinction about it referring to the timing of the show to the album release vs. the late start. Thanks. That sort of makes it even worse, since the lateness was completely ignored.

  9. Lupe finally addressed this via twitter:

    To be clear to everyone that attended the House Of Blues Laser release thing in Chicago. It was NEVER supposed to be a show. The promoters didn't stress to the public the fact that it was supposed to just be a party. I had NO hand in organizing the event. Nor did my team. I don't even know who the other performers were until the night before the event. As far as me being late I literally drove about 6 hours to get there and I ran out of gas around Springfield!!!! Shout to AAA 4 the save!!! But anyways my name was on it so I'll take the "L" and rest assured that it will NEVER EVER happen again. I love my fans. I'm sorry u guys had to go thru some BS. Again me and my crew had NOTHING to do w/ how the event was ran or organized. Also all the money for the event from my side is and always was going to be donated to charity so atleast for me it was a free event.

  10. Thanks for the heads up on Lupe's response. I am glad he at least addressed it. Such a strange situation.

  11. To anyone who attended this: They are offering refunds if you call by 4/1. Here is the number to call: 18006538000

  12. read his tweets from today, he goes into detail about how the whole thing was a pretty big debacle.

  13. Fine, mistakes happen. However, I don't buy it. I saw him in NYC last month at his "record release party" and he was terrible. And although this was also promoted the same, he was on stage for a solid 90 minutes, if not more. His excuse for Chicago is bogus.

    Keep in mind, this is coming from a person who has stated he is my favorite rapper, thinks his underground mix tapes are up there with any rappers mix tapes, and I have seen him in concert about 5 or 6 times. I'm telling you, he was awful. In fact, so bad that I the concert tickets i bought for his April 24 show in NYC have already been sold.

    He sold out, his new stuff is terrible and I couldn't be more disappointed.