Where Damon Stoudamire gets his pot.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Old Show

This post will diverge from basketball and recount the story of the worst concert I've ever been to: a Clipse show, in Victoria, British Columbia, from around 14-15 months ago.

Certain genres of music can elicit appreciation from different sects of the consuming public. Kinda goes without saying you'd think. For instance, those persons (myself included) who listen to indie music - which I realize is a loaded term and really means nothing since half the bands aren't truly independent in the first place - poach from other genres and bring artists/bands into the fold of our fandom. Occasionally electronic, techno bullshit or whatever can slip through the cracks, but more often some hip-hop will filter from its intended audience (either left-field hip-hop heads or mainstream top-40 types) and into the playlists of individuals who consider Stephen Malkmus a God or attend Polvo reunion shows.

Enter Clipse, twin-brother coke-rap duo from Virginia Beach, most notable on a grand scale for their affiliation with Pharrell of The Neptunes. These guys sorta talk about dealing coke all the time, but at the heart of their music lies a certain charisma and, most predominantly for me, chilling and sparse production. Their music appeals primarily to different groups of listeners: those who like the aggression and tenacity of so-called coke-rap (is that a term people even use?) and those, like myself, who wear too much plaid and are in the midst of receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from an accredited institution. Not closely linked. At all.

So when I heard Clipse was coming to Victoria, only six months after releasing Hell Hath No Fury, I jumped at the opportunity and purchased tickets for my girlfriend and myself.

Quickly, a sociological make-up of Victoria, if you will: this city is comprised of senior citizens. Bus routes take an average of five to ten-minutes extra to reach your destination on account of the number of walkers and motorized vehicles which need assistance in order to both get on and escort the bus. After old people, there are many students, and even more hippies. The city of Victoria exists within a strange liberal bubble made of flax seed and granola. Part of this has to do with our isolation on the island, and, living here for the past half-decade, I really don't feel part of the rest of the country. People bike everywhere. They believe in naturopathic medicine. They ingest oregano and garlic as an alternative to cold medicine. Seriously. So naturally the idea of Clipse coming to Victoria was a strange one. Unless "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)" was remixed by Phish or Ani DiFranco, the likelihood of Clipse finding a local audience remained unlikely.

(Another side-note: the last time - and only other time - I had attended a hip-hop show in Victoria I was kicked out under false pretenses. This was at a De La Soul show, and they're basically hippies that rap. The crowd make-up consisted of douchebags who thought it was like any other night at the club (ie. they were trying to get laid) and white guys who made me embarrassed to be white on account of their giddiness of being at their first hip-hop show (ie. dancing around in their American Eagle polos). One girl behind me asked me if the show was over before De La Soul hit the stage.)

Around 10 PM my girlfriend and I arrived at V-Lounge, a Victoria venue I had never been to in my five years of regularly hitting up shows. For the first time in my concert-going adulthood I was patted down and walked through a metal detector upon entering the show. A male bouncer said to me, as he was essentially feeling me up, "How do you feel about your girlfriend getting touched?" At the time, my girlfriend was being frisked by a female bouncer. My reply: "As long as it's not you, bud."

Once the staff of brain surgeons at V-Lounge had assessed that I left my Tec-9 and machete at home, we were free to roam around the venue. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell the owner/interior designer of V-Lounge that, despite their best efforts, their establishment is not a classy place. In theory, the idea of fashioning the club after Caesar's Palace or, say, Athens, may have looked good on paper (certainly not to a polymath, or a successful entrepreneur), but it in facts looks really hokey to have Greek-style white pillars around the perimeter of your interior. Furthermore, the club itself was part of a complex of buildings that included a liquor store, seedy motel, strip club, and Chinese restaurant. All the components for one hell of a guy's weekend.

My initial inquiry, as per the make-up of the concert's audience, was quickly determined by the influx of white guys who thought they were thugs. I am not sure where they came from (Sooke? Esquimalt?), but there is clearly an unidentified habitat of 'wiggers' living amongst us who have taken a monopoly over the city's supply of XXXL white t-shirts. As mentioned earlier, Clipse draws a crowd of coke-rap fans and hipsters. Only coke-rap fans and small-time drug dealers showed up this night. Maybe it was due to the show's nearly non-existent promotion or maybe I was the only person in Victoria unaware of V-Lounge's reputation for white guys in FUBU and whores. Thank God there were metal detectors at the door.

Speaking of whores, there were plenty. The show didn't start for another hour and a half after our arrival so my girlfriend and I played a game of Spot The Hoochie, in which we spotted hoochies on the dance floor and assessed how long it would take for a Federline look-a-like to spit some game on them (or slip them a date rape pill). This is how the situation played out: two girls would head up to the dance floor, as a tandem, and seductively dance with their ass hanging out of their skirts until a couple of noble suitors would approach and ask for their hand in dance (READ: rub their denim-covered penis up in that chick's ass crack). It seldom took more than a minute for the girls to get picked up and never involved the guys buying these young ladies a drink (that's one for us, guys!). Our favourite skank-tandem was easily two girls who, despite upwards of thirty minutes on the dance floor, attracted few suitors on account of one of the girls being rather, well, large.

The show got off to a rousing start when (...struggling to find the guy's name...), uh, a local white guy took the stage and rapped, about, some things, poorly. Yes, there were local Victoria openers! Clipse didn't bother to bring anyone out on tour with them so the crowd was treated to not one, not two, but three local rappers. By far the greatest opener was a short black man in a leather jacket who was basically copying DMX's shtick from ten years ago. Needless to say he spent much of the set yelling, barking, and generally getting angry. He was able to get the crowd on his side early by making a disparaging remark about the cops outside (well played). Here's the thing: Victoria is consistently ranked as one of the ten-greatest cities in the world in which to live. We live by the Pacific Ocean, the crime rate is low, and we offer an astounding number of vegan bakeries. What is there to complain about DMX-man?

By the time 1 AM rolled around I was seriously thinking that Clipse didn't bother showing, or perhaps were never even slated to perform. I mean, c'mon, Clipse coming to Victoria? The whole thing sounded like a local promoter's sleazy way to steal $35 from a bunch of unsuspecting dunces (myself included). Luckily for the promoter's life, Clipse did hit the stage at about a quarter past one. This was about the time when we realized that the sound system was perhaps borrowed from Delta Bingo. This was also about the time when the fights started breaking out.

For the duration of Clipse' set, which I could barely hear because the speakers were barely fit for a banquet at the Canadian Legion, fights continually broke out, often spilling into my girlfriend and I. The entire night you could practically smell the testosterone wafting through the white t-shirts. I think even a couple of the ivy leaves on the ceiling wilted. Fights were brewing the entire night. Only these guys waited until Clipse finally arrived in order to show off.

(Let me take a minute to reiterate: the crowd actually waited until Clipse started performing before they began to pummel one another. The crowd, comprised of white guys in one of the nicest cities in the world, tried to to impress the rappers, a couple of ex-cocaine dealers. Clipse were not impressed. Appropriately, they asked the audience why they were fighting.)

Any attempts to impress Clipse were quickly thwarted by V-Lounge security, who were, without a doubt, the finest bouncers. Say what you want about the interior design, but the bouncers put every unsuspecting thug into a crippling choke hold within seconds of a fight erupting. Most impressive was a female bouncer in her mid-40s who manhandled a good half-dozen wiggers. Said woman also approached a man behind me, during the set, to have a word with him. I turned around to find the angry black rapper hiding behind me, puffing away at a cigarette. Bad-ass move DMX-man. You really showed the employees of V-Lounge by lighting a cigarette and getting busted for your indiscretion. The man is still keeping you down, I see.

There is perhaps no other way to end this story other than my girlfriend and I leaving with a couple songs remaining in the set. Clipse didn't play for long, and really, I have no idea whether they're good live performers or not on account of the aforementioned fights and shitty sound quality. On the outdoor lawn of V-Lounge, around 2 AM, a mess of handcuffed wiggers lay face-down in the grass. If that isn't a fitting end to a Wednesday night, I don't know what is.

One-half of Clipse with Cat Power.

No comments: