Monday, July 30, 2007

Rock the Bells @Randall's Island, July 29th

What a crap day! I never, never ever want to go back to Randall's Island again. Please don't make me. I promise I'll be good from now on, okay?

Despite my somewhat decent interest in the lineup, the music couldn't save all during today's miserable excursion out to the mudhole that is Randall's Island. Heather and I met up with Wawa midway through Rakim's set, making it apparent that we had missed Mos Def and Talib Kweli, which was too bad because I had seen both individually before and not together potentially giving rise to some Black Star cuts. Oh well. Then we realized that Erykah Badu wasn't playing -- she probably said, Fuck this thunder and lightning shit, and got the hell out of dodge.

We decided to brave the building crowd and got into line one of the million times we queued up today to catch Cypress Hill's enjoyable if not challenging set. Wawa disappeared for most of their stuff on a quest for some food, so Heather and I were left alone to watch the crowd, which consisted mainly of roving bands of shirtless white men in their twenties with tribal tattoos either on their arms or calves. So, um, uh, why are we here?

Following Cypress Hill, vintage rappers Public Enemy played a tired, outta breath set in which the hits sounded like poorly karaoked versions of the tight originals. They did bring out Scott Ian of Anthrax for "Bring tha Noise" but fell short every where else. "Fight the Power" sounded uninspired to me. Flavor Flav spent more energy pimping his VH-1 shows than remembering the lyrics to "911 (is a Joke)." I decided it would be an appropriate time for me and Heather to grab some grub, as neither of us wanted to miss the next act, the Wu-Tang Clan.

Our ambitions proved fruitless, however, as we spent the next eternity on several lines (Damn them for running out of those mozzarrepas!) before ending up almost in another borough in finding a stall that actually served "food." And, nope, we didn't make it back to Wawa, opting to hang in the less crowded field where we scarfed down our lousy dinners and watched the Wu from screens above the fray. As far as we could tell, the Wu sounded solid, showing up Public Enemy in terms of tightness and excitement. I've always admired their ability to trade off verses seamlessly with so many at the mic. "Protect Ya Neck" sounded perfect. I had wanted to be up closer for the Wu, especially since RZA is a shaolin brother, and ya know, I like to support my kung fu mates, like John Sid and Billy, but oh well...

Anyway, Heather and I knew there was no way in hell we'd slip and slide our way back through the mud to find Wawa with the closer, Rage Against the Machine, coming up. We figured the crowd at that point would be ridiculous and completely stupid, so we coaxed him to find us after our Gilligan's Island type excursion. He was relieved that we hadn't been kidnapped.

So we ended up catching the entire RATM set from the comfort of the back field on the screens above, laughing hysterically anytime the cameras showed the knuckleheads in the moshpit surging back and forth. Yup, not upset we missed that element at all. They played the longest set of the day as headliners, pulling out the favorites as well. Strangely, a good number of the crowd trickled out during this last part of the hellish day, leading us to conclude that they couldn't handle the guitar genius of Tom Morello and were all indeed just a bunch of pussies.

I mean, I love RATM and all -- I actually have all of their cds and used to blast The Battle of Los Angeles while stuck in traffic when I was living in DC -- but god, there is a limit to what even Qbertplaya will do for a good concert. Sure, I was plenty angry at the wretched day and probably my worst concert experience ever, but not enough to channel that rage into a suicide mission into the crowd beyond the gates. I think I was more tempted by the competing sound of the familiar Mister Softee jingle chiming in the distance....

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