Slim Thug, Z-Ro, Devin the Dude, Afroman, Fat Tony, Killa Kyleon, Jack Freeman, UZOY, Mezou Warehouse Live August 5, 2011
9:08 p.m.: Oh my. So, the show tonight - Slim, Ro, Devin, Afroman and openers - is mostly guys you can see in Houston just about anytime. Also, it's only a little after 9 p.m.; they're barely starting to let people in. Still, there is a line, thick and strong, that wraps around the venue. There have to be at least 700 people already. Shit. Excellent. Kudos to Layne Schmerin et al.
9:22: Because it bears mentioning: The crowd tonight is almost entirely young and white. The DJ, Matt Murdock, also young and white, is burning through a heavy Houston set, and the crowd is keeping pace. He hits Ke, Moe, UGK, Screw and more, and there is no misstep.
And these kids are not listening to this or singing along in an ironic sense; they appear to genuinely feel it and appreciate what they've interpreted it as. Crazy. Who knew they were mobbin' so hard in Bellaire*?
*We're aware that that jokey ending undercuts the premise of that timestamp. Whatevs. Don't think so hard, bro.
9:28: UZOY, the 2DBZ-backed femmebot (above), is opening. She's an energetic little something. Neat. Like her. Did you listen to her The [Def]inition tape from earlier this year? It was thorough. She's smart to talk to about rap. The crowd whoops a tad, though it almost feels dutiful. Strange.
9:30: She's doing this song.
9:34: Says the DJ: "Remember, after the show you can get your picture taken with Z-Ro in the back after the show tonight!" Eh, pictures with Z-Ro? Not sure about that one. Is there any way that that doesn't end like that Zoo Bear Attack video from Ebaum's World? A picture with Z-Ro is cool. Not getting mauled to death is cooler, though. Probably gonna go ahead and skip that one.
9:38: Poking around a bit, talking to folks about things. If you've never just started a conversation with someone at a concert, you are absolutely missing out; it is almost always a good idea. At any rate, we happen to accidentally meet the DJ's dad. He's here to support, snapping pictures of his son in action, just generally looking very proud. Love that.
9:41: A young man named Mezou is out there now. He's a senior in high school or something (some kids behind us are talking about him). He's serviceable enough, but he plays too much of his songs. We've been to a ton of rap shows. Unless you know them personally, openers almost always stink. They just seem to be in the way. But, we have seen some really good ones. There's a formula to giving a great show when no one knows your music. When you're an unknown and are performing, you should structure your set like this:
1. Start with something punchy, your heaviest, biggest, most intimidating sound. Do that song for, at most, one verse. As much as you love it, nobody else knows it. They'll zone out after too long. And if that happens, you've lost them for good. Think on it like watching a video on YouTube: If there's not something interesting happening, nobody watches more than 30 seconds of a video that they don't know anything about. You have to keep it moving.
2. Follow that up with something that people recognize; a famous beat, preferably.
3. Do another snippet of one of your songs. Never stop to talk or explain anything. Nobody cares that you wrote this next song with your friend in the car while you were getting high or whatever.
4. Go back to something people know. Try to pick a song that people can play along with, like an old Houston song (in this case, "Barre Baby" would've killed). Again, keep it short.
5. Back to your music.
6. Finish with something fun and maybe even silly. There's no way anybody wakes up the day after a show and says, "Hey, what was the name of that one opener? The one that did zero songs that I knew?" Likewise, there's no way anybody wakes up the day after a show and doesn't mention the guy that played the theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to end his set.
Bam. You just gained a whole bunch of new fans in seven minutes. You're welcome.
9:58: Fat Tony (above) is up. Fury and fire and blustery bluster. Gonna go ahead and give him the nickname The Meta Demigod, and we're not going to explain why, because that's extra meta and that's how that shit works. Booyah. That's him now: Fat Tony, The Meta Demigod.
10:04: Dang. These kids are keyed up right now. Very cool. Every rapper should at least making a passing attempt at trying to corral a following in the young, white fan base.
The best way to do that, by the way, is to be thuggish or the complete opposite of thuggish. That's really it. Pick one.
10:05: Oh, Fat Tony, The Meta Demigod is feeling extra-saucy tonight. He's done about 60 percent of his sent on his knees, the other 40 percent hunching around like a Nigerian choo-choo train.
10:05:05: OH SHIT! The Nigerian Nightmare! That's going to be his other nickname. Just like Christian Okoye.
10:16: Finishing up his set now. Fat Tony, The Meta Demigod rarely disappoints. At the moment, he's on stage, singer Kim E. is onstage, rapper and cohort A.D.D. is onstage, a guy and a girl of undistinguishable races are onstage, and some other spare parts.
10:26: Holy Christ! Okay, quick back story: Our babysitter cancelled a few hours before the show, so we had an extra ticket. We put it to Twitter. Local rapper Delo picked it up in about ten seconds. So we're outside now waiting in the smoking area at the front of the venue because he's coming to get it. And this guy and girl (looks like a dad and a daughter) are going at it. Or, rather, he's going at it and she's getting it gone at. He's yelling at her hardcore about something.
He starts shouting, snatches her up by the arm and pulls her towards his car parked across the street. Now, whenever our son is acting pissy or he's tired or frustrated, he does this thing where he lets his legs go limp and he just tumbles to the floor like he'd been shot. We call it The Noodle Legs.
This fool, this teenage girl getting blasted by her dad, just tried to noodle-leg him. Dead in the middle of St. Emanuel street, she let her legs turn to rope. He lost his shit, yanked her up, gave her a quick little slap and just about threw her into the backseat of his car. What the fuck is going on right now?
10:33: Back inside. There's a group up. One of the members is a tall, thin, Jewish-looking kid. He's in sweats in a muscle shirt. Again: What the fuck is going on right now?
10:45: Hey, okay, Afroman is here. He's setting up. He has a guitar with him. This'll be something.
10:46: Man, the security here is pretty terrible. One of the guards at the front near the stage is just watching kids light up. He looks agitated, but he just sleeps it off.
10:52: How old is Afroman? He's like a 100 or something, right? Still, he seems happy. Good to see. He rocks side to side during his rapping (he has other songs besides "Because I Got High"?!). All of his stuff is old-head boom-bap.
10:58: He's pulled his guitar out. It's one of those double-neck guitars. That's a sad instrument.
Guy: Hey, guys. I'm starting a band. Anyone want to be in it?
Other Guys: [silence]
Guy: Come on. I only need one other person. I'm gonna do, like, a White Stripes thing.
Other Guys: [silence]
Guy: Dudes. Seriously, I only need one other guy to play guitar.
Other Guys: [silence]
Guy: ...Guess I'll play them both myself.
11:01: Dang, man. Every Afroman song is, like, 40 minutes long or something. He keeps drawing all of them out with his lonely-man guitar.
11:10: He's doing an Afroman version of Sublime's "Smoke Two Joints." It's not near as endearing when rap guys do rock songs as it is when rock guys do rap songs.
11:18: "Because I Got High." Okay, okay. All is forgiven.
11:19: This is such a good song to do in a room full of people excited to hear it.
11:25: It's Slim Thugga, muthafucka.
11:31: Holy guacamole. Thug is not dicking around tonight. He's going back to back to back on his tracks. No breaks, no breathing, no nothing. He seems extra energized. Cool, cool, cool. This is how it is supposed to go. He seems to understand that the crowd here is only concerned with hearing him do 100 songs. He does one verse from each, then moves onto the next. The crowd is in a frenzy. Everything sounds like a winner. It's his race to lose.
11:33: The blinky, tinky jump of "Still Tippin'."
11:34: PAUL WALL! He just came flying out. The crowd is in the roof right now. Excellent moment. Unexpected Paul Wall cameos are glorious. It's like seeing a bald eagle riding a lightning bolt.
11:37: Doing "3 Kings." A line from it: "Got a fetish for thick girls that's caramel brown." Keep it moving, sir. You're not going to find one of those in here tonight, sir.
11:44: Oooh! Dialed up J-Dawg's "Ride On 4s" just for fun. Slick. Even Heavy, Slim's stoic manager, is rocking. Tough, tough, tough. It is very likely that nobody will top his set tonight. Clap for him.
12:04 a.m.: Three guys in the crowd are standing near other, all trying to look extra tough. They've taken off their shirts. Cute. They're like thugs in training wheels.
12:14: Devin the Dude has come oozing out. Love that guy. Crowd is still high from Slim Thug's performance.
12:16: Shit. Our phone is about to die. That's where we type the notes for these shows. From here on out, every timestamp is simply going to read, "After 12:16."
After 12:16: Hahaha. There's this scene in Season 4 of The Wire where Marlo, the show's most menacing drug master, steals some lollipops while in a convenience store. Before he pockets them, he looks clean into the eyes of the security guard.
Right at this very moment, Devin, Houston's most lovable drug master, jumped off the stage and handed a joint to a kid in the front row. He looked clean into the eyes of the security guard stationed at the left of the stage. Ha, ha. Poor guy. He just got Marlowed. Devin Copeland is a gangster, son.
After 12:16: Devin works through a bunch of his good stuff, highlighted by the two songs everyone came to see him perform ("Lacville '79" and "Doobie Ashtray"). His set is fun and Devin is a natural charmer, but he can not catch Slim tonight.
After 12:16: The DJ and the MC tried to pull a "Z-Ro's not here tonight" move, but nobody bit on it. Ah well. Nice try. The "ZEEE-RO, ZEEE-RO" chants have started.
After 12:16: Ro's out. Crowd is going crazy.
After 12:16: Whoops. So Ro, gruff and sandpaper gritty Ro, he tries to do a call-and-response thing with the crowd and it goes totally stale. He shouts, "Y'all bitches out there douche your pussy?" Nothing.
Again: "Ah hell naw. I said, 'Who out there douches your pussy?'" Nothing. It just got a little uncomfortable. Ro: "Fuck it. I ain't gon' do that next song then*. All y'all dudes trying to fuck tonight, don't, 'cause there's some stanking-ass pussies out there." Oh, Ro.
*Our guess: He was going to do his revamp "Driving Me Wild," where the chorus is, "Ooh, bitch, your pussy's 'bout to get a little greasier, and the KY make the penetratin' so much easier."
After 12:16: Conversation right now:
Ro: Where are my real nigga gangstas?
Room Full of White Teenagers: YYYEAAAAAHHHHHH!
Personal Bias: You can't meet Layne Schmerin and not want him to be successful. His smile is too broad for your disdain. Incidentally, they extra-sold-out the show; they actually opened the room next door and had people in there too. Eagle Scout, bro. FWI.
The Crowd: See above.
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Overheard In the Crowd: All sorts of belligerence.
Random Notebook Dump: Another of the evening's surprise guests was Killa Kyleon. He came out and did a few songs, the most impressive of which was "Make Me," which features the suddenly unbeatable Jack Freeman and has to, as it is, be considered the Houston's best rap collaboration of the year.