|Lupe on 'The Show Goes On' video shoot (facebook.com/lupefiasco)|
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