Common Leaves Us Hanging At Warehouse Live
Photos by Marco Torres
8:00 p.m.: There is a female behind the decks onstage. Aftermath loves seeing females who can hold it down on the 1s and 2s. She has a bedazzled Macbook and goes by the name of DJ Superstar. Go on with your bad self, girl. 8:10 p.m.: The audience is a bona fide rainbow coalition tonight at Warehouse Live. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud that Common has led us to the top of the mountain. 8:15 p.m.: The last time Aftermath saw Common in concert was in college at a free 2001 show on the UC-Berkeley campus. He was a different rapper then. Like Water for Chocolate had just dropped. He wore Birkenstocks and dated Erykah Badu. It was pre-Kanye, pre-Gap commercials and pre-starring movie roles. Not that there's anything wrong with change, but it will be interesting to see Common 2.0 live almost a decade later. 8:25 p.m.: Whoa, DJ Superstar, we love us some Jay-Z too, but six Jigga tracks in 30 minutes? Why don't you two get a room already? 8:27 p.m.: Our hypeman is desperately trying to get us crunk, but it appears that he is having a hard enough time getting himself crank. He's been checking his smartphone every ten minutes or so. What's the score on the Celtics game, homes? Do your job. 8:30 p.m.: Our hypeman just asked us to put up our hoods. We threw up our customary "HP" to rep the Press proper. 8:35 p.m.: Aftermath usually gets stuck behind Tallest Asshole in the Venue. We lucked out tonight. We can easily see the stage over the reasonably-sized Lovely Ladies standing in front of us.
9:07 p.m.: One hour deep, and one of the aforementioned Lovely Ladies in front of us is regretting her decision to wear heels to the show. She's in the one-heel-on, one-heel-off stance. Aftermath has been in your shoes before, girl. (Pun intended.) But we've learned our lesson. We opt for comfort over style when it means pulling a Britney Spears all over a venue floor. Cute shoes, though. 9:13 p.m.: Luniz's "I Got Five On It" is playing, followed by Rick James' "Mary Jane." Aftermath just got hit with the unmistakeable scent of... Yup, someone is definitely messing with that Endo-weed. Aftermath loves the rash of bewildered looks immediately following the lighting of herb at a show. 9:27 p.m.: One thing you can count on at every hip-hop show is the One Dude Who Knows the Lyrics to Every Song. Tonight he's standing right next to us. He'll be here all night in case you forget the lyrics to "Paul Revere" or "Me, Myself and I." 9:30 p.m.: And now we've reached that part of every hip-hop show where we feel like we're watching an episode of Hip-Hop Sesame Street. We have a new hypeman onstage by the name of Se7en. He asks us to raise our hands if we love hip-hop. We all eagerly raise our hands to assure him that: "We love hip-hop, yes we do! We love hip-hop, how 'bout you?!" Aftermath is waiting for the day that some asshole raises his hand to say: "Hi. Hip-hop? Not so much." That would make our day. Se7en goes on to tell us that there are four elements of hip-hop. Count 'em, kids! 1-2-3-4. Good! He tells us that the emcee represents one of these elements and that we're about to see this element in motion onstage. 9:31 - 10:20 p.m.: Se7en, you lied to us. The next seven out of ten acts or so are not MCs in the strict sense of the term; they're spoken-word artists. That's cool, we guess, and we won't split hairs. But why are there so many of them? By the third opening performance, the crowd is getting restless. The chatter grows into a clamor, drowning out the performer onstage. One of the Lovely Ladies says: "Why are they doing this? This is not what we came here for. They should have limited these performances to two max." Aftermath concurs. 10:22 p.m.: Aftermath is asleep.
10:23 p.m.: The words: "Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Biz Markie!" wakes us up. The crowd goes bananas when Biz Markie trades places with DJ Superstar, spinning a set than can be best described as old school meets new school, Slick Rick meets Lil' Wayne. The Biz has succeeded in turning frowns upside-down and getting the crowd dancing. 10:25 p.m.: Someone just farted. Not cool, guys. 10:30 p.m.: Biz asks us if we remember the '90s and goes on to spin classics like Das EFX's "They Want EFX," Arrested Development's "Everyday People" and the song that always makes Aftermath smile, A Tribe Called Quest's "Award Tour." 10:39 p.m.: Why is it that there's always a couple of Girls Near the Stage at every rap show who feel the need to purse their lips and body-roll seductively to every song? Aftermath must commend them for their stamina, however. They've been body-rolling for a good 2.5 hours now. 10:40 p.m.: 2 Live Crew's "Freak Ho" is blasting through the speakers, and Aftermath is now body-rolling together with the Girls Near the Stage. In fact, all the females around us are dropping it like it's hot and shaking their stuff like it's never been shaken before. Some songs just have this effect on us. 10:43 p.m.: Aftermath spoke too soon. Like a moth to a flame, Tallest Asshole in the Venue has found us. He's standing in front of us now. Thanks, guy. What took you so long this time? 10:45-10:54 p.m.: Biz spins a Michael Jackson mix that gives us flashbacks from last week's Raspberry Criminal show at House of Blues. The energy in the room is riding high, and there isn't a soul in the room who isn't dancing. It is a reminder of the universality and timelessness of MJ's musical genius. Biz closes the mix with a brilliant "What You Want" and "Do You Remember" mashup. 10:58 p.m.: Biz finishes off his set with Bob Marley's "One Love," which is fitting theme song for the night so far. The audience is singing along. This is possibly the most polite crowd Aftermath has ever encountered at a show. There hasn't been any pushing or drunken antics, and people have managed to maintain a semblance of personal space. Martin Luther King, Jr. - 2, Haters - 0.
11:00 p.m.: Common bursts out onstage, opening with "Go!". If Aftermath could choose people to narrate our lives, our short list would include James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman and Common. Common has a very calming, soothing voice that belies his incredible onstage energy. The crowd is amazingly live. 11:02 p.m.: Common follows up with his verse off of Kid Cudi's "I Poke Her Face" with vocals by Lady Gaga and a Kanye cameo. 11:05 p.m.: The beat for "Universal Mind Control" just dropped, and Common is pop-locking. 11:07 p.m.: Oh, shit! He's rocking! Is he about to... 11:08 p.m.: Oh, shit! He's breakdancing! The DJ starts to switch the beat up, but Common tells him to bring the beat back. He starts rocking again, drops down into a windmill and ends in a B-boy stance. Oohs, ahhs and oh-no-he-didn'ts ensue. 11:10 p.m.: Common brings Biz onstage for a freestyle. Common starts off with: "Can I kick it?" and points to the crowd, who answers: "Yes, you can!" He and Biz go on to trade verses giving props to our fair city, from its rappers to its sports franchises. The crowd is eating it up. Common says he "won't hate on T-Mac" and gives "love to Aaron Brooks." 11:15 p.m.: Biz leaves the stage. Common starts talking about how hip-hop is about "the people" and how he doesn't like to differentiate between the races. He follows up with "The Corner." Martin Luther King, Jr. - 3, Haters - 0. 11:20 p.m.: Common is promoting his upcoming movie with Queen Latifah called Just Wright. It's a movie where Common plays a basketball player on the New Jersey Nets. As if on cue, a dude in the crowd - who likely played this moment in his head a few dozen times before the show - lifts his Vince Carter Nets jersey in the air. Common points to him, nodding in approval. 11:25 p.m.: Common is doing that song that all the ladies love - "The Light." The women in the crowd are belting the chorus along with Erykah. Then the beats drops out, and Biz Markie - on beatbox - picks up where it left off. The audience goes nuts.
11:30 p.m.: The piano part for "Just a Friend" kicks in, and folks are screaming. Biz does two rounds of the chorus. People are jumping up and down. 11:32 p.m.: Then Common cuts in, saying we've been a wonderful audience and that it's the end of the show. What? That was unexpected. He and Biz wave and exit stage left. 11:33 p.m.: People in the crowd look confused but start chanting Common's name. 11:37 p.m.: People in the crowd are asking each other if that was really the end of the show. That can't be it, right? Common knows how the encore game is played, doesn't he? 11:40 p.m.: The DJs are packing up their gear. The chanting dies down, and fans begin slowly trickling out of the building. 11:42 p.m.: Aftermath runs into DJ Grinch who says: "Did he really just do five songs and leave? If he doesn't get back onstage right now, he's gipped everyone here tonight. I will strongly dislike Common forever." 11:44 p.m.: Aftermath asks a couple of random fans still milling around the venue for their thoughts on the show. Stephen doesn't mind that Common's set was short because it was "really good." Jawanze is upset that Common only performed his "Billboard hits" instead of tracks like "Come Closer" or "Testify." "Is it seriously over?" he said. "I paid almost $40 for my ticket and $5 for parking." 11:50 p.m.: Aftermath runs into the KrackerNuttz who say, "Damn! Short show? Not a good look." 6:00 a.m. Saturday: Aftermath is in denial. We are still at Warehouse Live awaiting Common's encore. This show is feeling a lot like a relationship that ended badly. Aftermath is still waiting by the phone, Common. Call us?
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