Friday, September 2, 2016

Broken, Bruised, Forgotten, Sore...

I saw the Prophets of Rage on Saturday night, and went to the AFROPUNK Festival Sunday, and the aches and pains are finally subsiding now.

Saturday's show was my first time at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, and it's a decent venue for live music. My general admission ticket and I arrived early enough to get a spot very close to the front, as has been my wont lately, but in hindsight this wasn't the best show at which to do that. Things were fine when WAKRAT, one of Rage bassist Tim Commerford's side projects, took the stage; the vocals weren't always as loud or clear as they could've been, but it was still a damned fine set by a pretty hardcore three-piece, and the audience was fairly polite and enthusiastic. AWOLNATION turned down the rage a few notches but still offered up some great music. The Prophets' DJ Lord did some pretty phenomenal stuff with his turntables, offering props to Brooklyn's own late MCA and Jam Master Jay in the process, before the rest of the Prophets joined him on stage for an energetic "No Sleep till Brooklyn." 'Twas incredible to see Chuck D prowling around the stage and booming out his vocals, and B-Real's rapping and Tom Morello's guitar definitely brought the Rage.

After that, though, the crowd on the floor went berzerk and brought their own. Understandable, I know, and I really should've anticipated it, but I found myself being pushed forward, hard, and had to put a hand up against the barricade to keep myself from being crushed against either it or the guys in front of me as the band played "Prophets of Rage." The audience kept surging to the front, and we got packed tighter and tighter. By the time I realized my UP by Jawbone band had been scraped off my wrist by the mass of bodies, there was no way in hell I'd be able to see it on the floor, much less retrieve it. Oh, hell.

I tried my best to grin and bear it. I'd paid for my ticket, I wanted to see the band, and hey, I'd been in rambunctious crowds before, right? Uh-uh. Things got worse when they got to "Bombtrack," and I could feel the bruises forming as my shoulders, back, and sides were getting pummeled. By the time they started playing "People of the Sun," I was finding it hard to breathe, partly because I was being compressed against all the people and partly due to anxiety. I admit it: I decided to get out of Dodge, though once I'd squeezed my way off the general admission floor and found myself able to breathe near one of the stairways, I stood and watched as they performed another two songs. I ended up seeing a bit less than half their set, which was disappointing, but I don't think I could've put up with that for another hour.

the Prophets of Rage
Sunday at AFROPUNK got pretty intense at moments, too, but I didn't feel as unsafe or anxious as I did on the floor at Barclays. After grabbing a few empanadas from the Nuchas truck, I made my way over to the Green Stage and caught the tail end of the Suffers' set, and then Skye & Ross (from Morcheeba). They sounded great, but had nothing in common with the whirling dervishes that came next: Skunk Anansie! I'd heard good things about the band but had never really listened to their music; before they took the stage, a guy in the audience informed me that he'd waited 15 years to see them again, and they were amazing. And he was right. When their set started and Skin started running around in a shiny silver outfit, screaming like a banshee, I knew I'd found a new band to follow. People moshed, she crowd-surfed (and I got to help), and eventually, even with my calves still sore from the night before, I found myself needing to pogo, and so I did. Not alone, either. Then Skin came back out into the crowd after urging us all to crouch down, then she screamed at us to start jumping, and for a few brief seconds, I was in the same mosh pit she was. :-D I may, may, be in love with Skin. She's certainly gorgeous.

I think she was checkin' me out, too...
It took forever and a day for them to get the stage ready for the extravaganza that followed, but it was so worth it. Living Colour finally came out and did some of their hits and non-hits, including a Notorious B.I.G. cover, "Who Shot Ya?" They looked and sounded as good as the first time I saw them live waaay back in 1991, and Corey Glover still has some amazing pipes. The members of Fishbone started making their way onstage as the band lurched into James Brown's "Sex Machine," and Angelo Moore and the guys took over with a set of their own tunes after that. Angelo played a fucking theremin. And sax, of course. But a theremin! I'd never seen one played live, and even if I had, I doubt I'd have seen one played the way he played it. So much fun. These guys know how to party at ground zero, all right.

Bad Brains' guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson came out to raucous praise, and they did several BB songs along with Corey and Angelo and some of the other musicians. Yes, of course they started with "Sailin' On." Heh. All three bands rocked hard, with their own sounds and influences. And speaking of influences... George Clinton... George Clinton... the George Clinton joined this monster three-band-jam for a Funkadelic finale. More crowd-surfing, more moshing...

Night of the Living Fish Brains, with George Clinton!
I had to half-limp my way back to DeKalb and onto a Manhattan-bound R train, about an hour later than I'd expected to be leaving Commodore Barry Park, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Even with all the dust I inhaled (the dancing and moshing kicked up an unholy amount of the stuff) and the additional bruises I gained and the ringing in my left ear. And the lost UP band, which is taking some getting used to (I think I'm probably just going to wait and replace it with an Apple Watch). It was certainly a hell of a weekend for live music.

As always, more pics of these (and other) musical performances, and other stuff in general, can be found in the Gallery... of Death!

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