Most of the time, when you want to see an artist, you buy a ticket, drink a few beers, wait for an hour or so, see a performance (sometimes mediocre, sometimes stellar). Other times, you find out that waiting for the artist to go on for four hours is way more entertaining than actually watching the artist.
This is an account of my time with one of Wu Tang Clan's founding members, the GZA, last Friday at the Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa.
- Doors opened at 9 p.m. The GZA was supposed to go on at 11 p.m. We stuck around the front of the stage watching white boys deejay custy KDAY-back-in-the-day hits and dance to their drum machines for a while, but went to sit at the bar after the guy behind me announced, "The Gza's not even here yet!"
- Around midnight, a barker went onstage to announce that the GZA was in the building, and was set to perform at 12:30 a.m.
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- At 12:30 a.m., someone from the GZA's entourage picked up the mic, introduced himself as ODB's brother and started rapping -- to ODB songs! It may have been OK if he was good, but he couldn't even complete a phrase. Bewildered, the crowd started responding to the usual "Wu-Tang" call and response by booing. To every chorus. At that point, my boyfriend turned to me and said, "This is an abomination!" I replied, "I disagree. Notice how no one is leaving? It's actually a testament to hope. "
- In the midst of the confusion (ODB's pseudo brother mangling the lyrics, other emcees losing a microphone in the crowd), the GZA began mumbling into the mic. He actually started at 1:10 a.m. By then we were so sick of waiting that we stuck around for 15 minutes and then left after he didn't live up to the 5-hour wait.
- After an inaccurate scientific survey of random hip-hop fans (at the venue and after the show), I found out that it's not uncommon for rappers to make audiences wait for hours at their shows. A friend told me that he's been to two Wu Tang Clan shows and they're notorious for starting an hour before the venue closed.
This leads me to pose the question: Has anyone ever seen a good Wu Tang Clan show?
Overheard at the show:
"If you paid $20, and waited for five hours, you'd be booing too. Where the fuck is GZA at?"
"Anyone who knows anything about hip-hop knows that Wu Tang sucks live."
"Some songs are not meant to leave the studio."
"This set makes me hate rap music."
"If I hear any more raps about grape flavored blunt, I'm going to vomit."
"This would be laughably bad if Wu Tang wasn't such an important band. I don't think there's any dichotomy like that in music. Kind of like Bob Dylan."