March 3, 2013
Orange County's relationship with hip-hop is different from that of its Los Angeles neighbor. Whether it's Aesop Rock or A$AP Rocky, LA will come out in droves. Later in April, Aesop Rock will be performing at the Constellation Room, a small Observatory offshoot only capable of handling a few hundred people. On the other side of things, A$AP Rocky will be opening up for Rihanna at the Honda Center and will probably garner a lingering backstage crowd that is around the same number of people present to watch Aesop Rock perform. But, this is 2013 Orange County, so we suppose this dichotomy is to be expected. A$AP has some radio hits; Aesop Rock has, well, some more obscure, less catchy Internet hits. However, all of this goes whirling out the window when it comes to anyone involved with the Wu Tang Clan -- in last night's case, Method Man.
On a global level, there are very few rap acts that can match the regard, popularity and crazed fandom of the Wu. Most of the time, if someone gets a tattoo involving a hard-hitting, raw, hip-hop artist, it's something unique. If someone gets their body marked for the glory of the Shaolin, they just have to take a number and get in line. So, when Method Man was set to perform at the Observatory, we knew a treasure trove of OC concert-goers was going to swarm across Harbor Blvd to witness this favored, blunted Wu-member perform.
Before Meth came onstage, a few affiliates of the Wu such as Streetlife performed and ran through some select cuts. A DJ followed with with a mix of classics from our state's gangsta-rap heyday. Obviously, it was pandering to the crowd and the environment, but it worked perfectly to set the mood, considering Method Man is probably the most likely Wu-member to work best next to a Dr. Dre or Snoop Dogg. At the very least, he could match Snoop Dogg's weed consumption.
In what may have been the least late rap entrance we have seen in months, Method Man took the stage. His birthday had been the previous day, and by his own account, he was still high from celebrating, but we have to hand it to him for coming on promptly. If anything, all the weed and liquor probably made him more focused and organized.
Patrick Montes / OC Weekly
Meth remarked that people paid for a show, and he was going to give them one, and he certainly set out for the task. He was a sharp, convivial showman for the entirety of his performance, always showeing enthusiasm for what he was performing and for the fans there to see him. An exuberant performer at a hip-hop show at the Observatory is something we can appreciate, considering the lackluster performance Gucci Mane gave us last month. Even Meth's agility was on-point, as his swift maneuvers from the sides of the stage to inside the crowd showed. We can't remember the last time we saw a rapper at the Observatory jump into the crowd, rap among the audience, shake hands, and stand on the ledges between hordes of people, all within the course of the same song.
Regardless of the popularity of hip-hop in its underground or mainstream forms, anything involved with the Wu-Tang Clan will always generate a massive response, and we can see why. From Method Man to GZA to Ghostface Killah's hypnotic dance moves last year at Rock the Bells, the Wu are some of the liveliest, most interesting professionals in hip-hop. They know when and how to involve their fans in their show, they know how to ration their energy during a show, and they can always be counted on to perform some of the best songs in their genre's history.
The Crowd: Wu-Tang shows always bring out the most varied crowd. There were older people who looked to be IT professionals, as well as young kids in their teens with beanies.
Overheard In the Crowd: Bearded guy who resembled a cross between ASAP Lou and Beautiful Lou: "SWWAAGGG! SWWAAGGG! SWWWAAGGG!"
Random Notebook Dump: We need another solo Ghostface show at the Observatory already.