Like we've said before, Orange County loves their Wu. Then again, when ODB notoriously declared that "Wu-Tang is for the children" he might as well have said "Wu-Tang is for everyone" considering the massive global impact the Shaolin spitters have had. Wu-Tang has a universal appeal that most more gritty, lyrically-oriented acts don't, and that stands as one of the reasons why Raekwon (a.k.a. the Chef) packed the Constellation Room Friday night, without an album to sell.
Prior to Raekwon's performance, we had to stand through a few hours-worth of local, all-too-similar acts trying to gather steam and break through. In the past, there have been similar bookings by show promoters Out Da House, but last night in particular dragged on a bit more excruciating than normal. Standing for hours on end in a cramped room is worth it for an artist like Raekwon, but a show that's booked around one act shouldn't feel like you're witnessing a collective effort or attending a sub-par Paid Dues.
For about three hours, several decent (but ultimately forgettable) opening acts took the stage -- most of whom sported an overly purist boom bap sound that was indecipherable from one MC to the next. When Raekwon did finally hit the stage, it was a breath of fresh, smoked-out air and a welcome reprise from what had been going for a while.
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A night that wasn't quite on the path we had hoped for took a turn for the best when Raekwon began to perform. There must be something that collectively crawled into each member of the Wu recently that's turned each of them into consistently better live performers. Maybe it was the high following performing at Coachella or maybe it was just the fact that Raekwon is just that good, but he put on what was possibly the best Wu-affiliated show we've seen all year. He didn't bring the energy of the Method Man performance we saw a short while back, but he clearly had to stamina to tear through a full setlist of beloved tracks and give his beyond adoring audience exactly what they wanted to see with every syllable intact. So yeah, the wait for him last night was worth it.
Critic's Bias: Who doesn't love anything to do with the Wu-Tang? Random Notebook Dump: It was odd to hear DJ Shadow show-goers walking outside and inside the venue talking about hip-hop as if they didn't know a legend was right next to them.
The Crowd: A mix of everything under the sun. The usual concert-going fare of hats and streetwear, intertwined with button-up shirts and bland denim and couples on a night out. For all we know, there could have been some father-son pairings. Also, a guy flamboyantly dressed up like he was going to a rave.