Geto Boys at Free Press Summer Fest, 6/1/2013

Geto Boys Free Press Summer Festival, Eleanor Tinsley Park June 1, 2013

One of this year's most anticipated FPSF sets by far on Saturday belonged to the Geto Boys, those 3rd Coast originators who put this city on the hip-hop map 25 years ago with their gonzo gangsta lyrics and attitude. A pre-fabricated group from the very start, no one has ever accused the Geto Boys of being inseparable, and performances by the trio of Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill have become increasingly rare in the 21st Century.

No surprise, then, that homegrown hip-hop afficianados were waiting with bated breath Saturday to see if the Getos could still go.

That wait threatened to stretch on indefinitely on Saturday afternoon, as the Boys' start time of 3:40 p.m. came and went on the Saturn stage. Late arrivals are nothing new in the rap world, but this was a festival gig, not a headlining slot. Each minute that ticked by with no sign of the group was a minute that would likely be subtracted from their performance.

Finally, at 4:06 p.m., 'Face appeared onstage to favor the crowd with a verse or two from the blood-soaked nursery rhyme "Mr. Scarface." It was good to see the man in action at last, particularly following his tease of an appearance at the All-Star Weekend Kick-Off Celebration earlier this year. He followed up his namesake track with "Mary Jane," the first of a couple tributes on the afternoon to the sweet leaf.

Rocks Off advice columnist Willie D came out next, looking gangsta as fuck with a bandana covering his face. Will sounded characteristically ferocious on "Read These Nikes" before the pair tag-teamed "First Light of the Day" from The Resurrection.

Great as it was to see Willie and 'Face back in action together, one Geto Boy, though, was conspicuously absent from that stage. Bushwick Bill, never the group's most stable member, never appeared. It was a damn shame, too, because the short psychopath always lends a fun and off-kilter energy to the trio that was sorely missed in his absence.

It was a very loose set that clearly hadn't been planned out too thoroughly ahead of time. Still, the rappers never missed a beat. Many of the white college kids assembled in front of the stage appeared to be largely clueless as to what they were hearing, and the sweat was pouring off of them in sheets thanks to the intense afternoon heat. But they had no problem dancing along to the old-school jams like "Geto Boys and Girls," a testament to the talents of the men onstage.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith