Thursday, November 25, 2010

Concert Review: Wiz Khalifa

Sometimes it's tough to judge how wide of a fan base an artist has. I say that because in Hip Hop especially, concerts aren't always that entertaining, even for someone like me who has been an avid supporter and fan of the genre for decades. I'll qualify the use of the word entertaining, by describing my definition of entertaining (concert wise) as a display of skill usually through use of instrumentation that is supplemented by vocal talent. Given that description, it's hard to fit Hip Hop into that box, it just doesn't fit since there is rarely live instruments or any sort of singing. Yea it's cool when an artist rips off a freestyle or drops that verse you know word for word at a live show, but in my opinion that can only get you so far, especially when the lyrics (generally speaking) aren't as easily understood live.

I needed to preface my review of @REALWIZKHALIFA's show with that description because of how surprised I was at a lot of things I witnessed at his show. Before I get into why, rewind a minute to when I missed out on getting tickets to the show because I assumed I was going to be able to buy tickets at the door. I chose that route because I had been to many concerts at Croc Rock in Allentown before and no matter who is playing (Asher Roth, Citizen Cope, Sean Kingston), they always allowed people to buy tickets at the door.

Who would have been able to predict Wiz would be able to sell out the venue and they wouldn't sell tickets at the door? Not me...but since I had nothing better to do on a Tuesday night, I waited around a bit in hopes of finding a way in. 15 minutes of standing by the door and I saw my opportunity to get in when a group of guys (who I knew didn't have tickets) approached the door. I fully intended on paying the door price as I approached the side door where they were letting people in. Evidently one of the guys I was following was the man because they let the lead guy in and everyone behind him was getting stamped and allowed in for free. I trailed the group and after the guy in front of me was stamped, the lady at the door said, "Are you with them?". Hmm...take a minute to think about what you would have done in that situation? Would you A) Tell the lady no and you would like to buy a ticket B) Tell the lady yes and try to blend in with the group that had already entered the concert. Welp, after considering these two options for less than a split second I calmly said, "yea" and the lady stamped my hand as I walked in to try and catch up with "my group". That's how you get in free to a sold out being opportunistic and blending in evidently...but still when does that ever happen?

After pinching myself a few times, I walked in and fullback-style plowed through a completely packed, small venue. Perfect...a spot in the back with a little elevation and clear view to the stage. A few quick observations as I walked in the hell is the crowd 95% white? (stoners) My goodness, is this event over 18 or did I just imagine seeing little kids running around? How does the air inside already smell like 50% oxygen and 50% dank?
Interesting...and as Big K.R.I.T. took the stage after about a half hour of DJ-assisted crowd hyping with lots of Wacka Flocka and a lil Young Jeezy, I was probably one of 5 people at the show legitimately excited to see him on stage.
Such is the life for an up and coming artist in the game, but generally speaking I was impressed with the energy @bigkrit brought to the stage. The way I see it, if you don't come off genuinely excited and passionate on stage spittin' your own lyrics, then how in the hell are you going to win over fans? I enjoyed hearing him do Country Shit and my personal favorite Hometown Heroes. The acoustics were pretty terrible, so the video of his performance is sub-par, but nonetheless, I thought he brought it that night and people who didn't know his name prior to the concert took note of his lyrical ability.Best part of his set was when he mixed the last verse of Country Shit into the instrumental of Mississippi native David Banner's Like A Pimp. Tip of the cap, keep the good music comin' K.R.I.T. 

Moving on to the main act, which was welcomed with plenty of Wiz! Wiz! Wiz! chants by the crowd, literally chomping at the bit for what was about to ensue. He hit the stage with a strong contingent of his Taylor Gang in tow, creating a pretty crowded mix of hype men and cameramen flowing throughout the stage. I'll say this, prior to the concert I'd say I was a rookie when it came to Wiz Khalifa's older music. I had heard a few tracks like his huge hit Say Yeah from way back when, but most of my fandom came from his newest mixtape Kush & Orange Juice. Still, I didn't expect to be unfamiliar with the first 6 or so songs he played.

In hindsight, I can say now he did older tracks like Cabin Fever and B.A.R. (Burn After Rolling), which I've since become a big fan of after the show. That's why I love concerts, you get a better representation about what songs the artist and fans like most and since I wasn't a real fan of Wiz prior to the show, I took notes. As the show went on I started to gain an appreciation for how dedicated and die hard of a fan base he had. From the start of his set to the last word of the show, the crowd knew every word, so much so that Wiz kept stopping mid-verse to let the crowd sing and not once was a word missed THE WHOLE SHOW.

As he weaved through his newest material off his mixtape playing tracks like Good Dank and Still Blazin', I felt more like I fit in with the die hards surrounding me all around. Even better, he did a methodical rendition of one my favorites Never Been, followed by everyone's favorite new track Black & Yellow. Black stripe...Yellow paint...

It was every bit as hype as I expected and the crowd energy only added to it. Only thing I wish I had was a black and yellow towel to wave.

As the show wound down I kept wondering whether he would close with an old school favorite like Say Yeah or his most popular, semi-recent track This Plane. Press play below to find out and shout out to the bouncer lettin' me get a birds eye view above the crowd for the encore...

Great way to end the show even though the track is a little calmer than a track you'd expect for an encore. Still, I gained a very real appreciation for just how white hot Wiz's buzz is by seeing how die hard his fan base is. I don't even think it's a stretch or being too audacious to say Wiz has a more hard core fan base than any other new Hip Hop act out right now and that includes Cudi, Drake, J Cole, and B.O.B. He'll need years of music to catch up with acts like Jay-Z, Eminem and Kanye, but as far as new artists are concerned, he's head and shoulders above all other acts as far as having an army of supporters repping Taylor Gang.

Goes without saying, Taylor Gang (@REALTAYLORGANG) is IN the building and whether you decide to shout TGOD! or be a Cloudkicker, it's hard not to wanna join the movement...


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