Last Night:"Quik's Groove" at The Grove

Last Night:"Quik's Groove" at The Grove

Last Night: "Quik's Groove" featuring DJ Quik and um...some other people. Friday Mar. 13 at The Grove of Anaheim

Better Than: Getting a flat tire in a bad neighborhood. 

Download: The new "Fuck Y'all" single by DJ Quik

Between the soft, melodic rise of string ensembles and the thumping energy of a band sopping with jherri curled g-funk swagger, it was obvious that last night at The Grove was not a postcard image of a typical hip hop show. Armed with over a decade of west coast classics and a dose of symphonic grandeur, DJ Quik blasted a packed OC audience with his signature brand of grown and sexy gangsta rap.

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To the average Quik fan, the prospect of seeing this Compton-born innovator rehash the his songs with a live band is not exactly a new concept. His love for live instrumentation is a signature of the west coast rap sound he helped to build in the early 90s. But his show in Anaheim, titled "Quik's Groove", took things a step further by employing rows of brass and strings to mesh with his live 6-piece hip hop band. By the end of the night, after hearing just about every Quik anthem in the book, the roaring house of fans solidified the rapper/producers status as a hip hop genius.

But even though the end of the show might have been a success, words fail to describe the colossal bomb of Quik's ill-fated opening acts...well, at least most of them. 
When L.A. rapper Boston George first hit the stage, it seemed that the audience was liable to give him a chance. Some Quik fans might have even recognized him as an opening act at previous shows. Sporting a black back pack, oxford shirt and tie, BG seemed to be going for a Mormon  missionary look which, while slightly confusing, seemed to work for him. However, his attempts at glossy top 40 hooks about cash and hoes seemed a bit contradictory to his look (maybe his back pack was filled with cash).

At any rate, the young rapper's respectable live energy fell a little flat until a well timed cameo by Chronic 2001 collaborator Hitman, which added to his credibility as well as the excitement of the crowd. Though reoccurring references to his new mix tape probably fell on a lot of deaf ears, he at least left with a bit of dignity. Some of the following acts weren't so lucky.

What started out as a precarious opening line-up quickly morphed into a bad re-run of Apollo Amateur Night. Local hip hop crew Capital A and shade-sporting Pitbull look-a-like Da Grizzly took the stage along with several others in a spinning carousel of nauseatingly unoriginal MTV cliches that the audience obviously wasn't buying In all fairness, it was a bit encouraging to watch the undying resolve of some of these performers and their DJs as boos and heckling from the crowd rose to the rafters like steam from a fresh turd.

As harsh as the crowd response was to the performers, there were plenty of times where they opted to make things exponentially worse for themselves. As cups of ice started flying on stage someone in Da Grizzly's camp thought it a good idea to start throwing free CDs in the crowd. Supplying Frisbee-like ammunition to an angry audience is a lesson that was learned the hard way on stage last night.

It seemed like a miracle the moment DJ Quick and his orchestra set up shop and hit a couple opening notes. Apparently, nothing calms an riotous hip hop crowd like the bouncy chords of Quik's '92 classic "Mo'Pussy". Emerging with a suave suit jacket and unshakable charisma, our rhyme spitting headliner was more than happy to sweep the evenings hostility under the rug in favor of a good time. Delivering a packed stage of musicians, the night's soundtrack criss crossed every album in the catalog.

Nodding along to the beats, horn players ripped in time with pounding drums on tracks like "Quik is the Name" with a ferocious energy that brought new life to everything including Quik himself. One of the highlights was the orchestral intro to the title track of the '95 album "Safe and Sound".

The night also showcased several songs from Quiks work in the new millennium, including a taste of his forth-coming album Blaqkout, due out in late April. The album is said to be a collaborative pairing between Quik and fellow west coast heavyweight Kurupt. The Grove got a little taste of things to come with Quik's newly released and highly controversial single "Fuck Ya'll". Quik doesn't mince words on the last verse as he openly disses his longtime friends and collaborators AMG, 2 II None and Hi-C.

But whatever caused the obvious rift between Quik and his crew didn't seem to affect him as his soft spot for rapper Nate Dogg. In a break from all the fun onstage, Quik asked the audience to pray for the ailing rapper who's health has taken a turn for the worst due to several strokes. On the side of the stage, Quik also called the audience's attention to a poster-sized photo of his friend Pierre (didn't catch the last name) who is also fighting to live while waiting for an organ transplant. It's not exactly the kind of stuff you'd expect to hear at a Quik concert. But if anything, it helped to shed on his personal conflicts and make him a bit more real to all of us in the audience.

And though the evening turned a bit somber, it appeared once again that all the easily distracted crowd needed was some more hits.

Things got back on track with more robust renditions of songs like "Dollaz and Sense" and "We Still Party" offering a shot of adrenaline to the show that carried on through the encore. Lucky for us, despite the ups and downs of the evening, Quik was there to remind us that a bad situation can always bounce back and end on a high note.

Critics Notebook

Personal bias: Even though the show was great, there is no substitute for a Quik show in a small intimate setting (Key Club on Mar. 29. Be there).

Random Detail:  I like how Da Grizzly Bear really got back at the crowd as he got booed off stage...."Fuck Y'all". Good one Griz, I think that was the highlight of your set.

By The Way:  And now Anaheim is just lyke Compton. 

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