It's probably not bad advice to say that if you're planning to catch a Wu-Tang show, you better be ready to lose control. Method Man, for one, hates lazybones. His twin requirements for an ideal concert: weed and energy. "The energy that you give to us, we gonna give back to y'all," Meth proclaims, without fail, at every show.
So, about last night's concert. Weed clouds rippling the air: Check. Energy: Uh, let's get back to you on that.
First, some anecdotal evidence of Method Man's obsession with energy. Last time we saw Meth in Houston (2009, alongside Redman and Ghostface), he lunged into a Kanye-style rant on the proliferation of lazy rappers.
Meth's 2009 rant:
"They cheatin' y'all. These rappers out here wanna show off their chain and show off their watch. They be having like a hundred niggas on stage, and each one of them has a microphone. They be lip syncin' and shit. You should wait for these dudes at the end of the show and ask for your money back because they cheatin' y'all."
Method Man's 2012 rant:
"You have two or three people jumping into the crowd, right? They jumping by themselves and they feel embarrassed because nobody else is jumping with 'em. Well, to those three people that wanna jump, don't be embarrassed."
Method Man's 2012 rant (contd.):
Method Man: "Now, let me ask y'all some real shit. Y'all love hip-hop, correct? Crowd: YEAAAAAAAAHHHH! Method Man: OK. Since when did the hip-hop crowd become too cool to fucking jump? Crowd: *Deflated like a child in time-out* Method Man: Since when is the hip-hop crowd too cool to say 'hooooo'? Crowd: HOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Method Man: Since when is the hip-hop crowd too cool to throw their hands in the air like they just don't care? Crowd: *Hands in the air with, essentially, no care* Method Man: Since when is the hip-hop crowd to cool to have fun?
Ah, fun. Fun was indeed a rare commodity last night. The sound was a disastrous mix of high-bass and warped mikes. The crowd was, at times, a lethargic mess.
But fun wasn't the only thing missing from the show. Also missing: Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, the toast and jelly of Wu-Tang. Still, the incarnation of Wu that made the trip (RZA, GZA, Deck, U-God, Cappadonna, and Meth) held it down for their absentee brothers. RZA led the crowd in a birthday toast to Raekwon, champagne bottle in hand.
Even with Wu sensei RZA on stage, it was Meth who served as the de facto leader of the pack. Brandishing the world's smoothest flow, he led his group through choice cuts from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Later, they took turns delivering solo cuts -- Meth doing "M-E-T-H-O-D Man" not with the ennui of a 20-year veteran but with the verve of a 20-year old rook; GZA throwing down "Liquid Swords" with workmanlike execution; Cappadonna proving that he may be Wu's most underrated lyricist.
The crowd did respond with energy (praise be to God) when Method Man shouted out Pimp C. And when he hugged Bun B. And when Bun hand-motioned the crowd, without saying a single word, to liven up and make H-town proud for chrissakes. And when resident DJ Allah Mathematics removed his shoes and started spinning with his feet during the most beautiful Guru tribute we've seen so far.
And so these middle-age men -- hoarse, red-eyed, suffering from lower back aches, who could be home sleeping -- are up here for sixty-one minutes, filling the room with ancient gems, climaxing past midnight, extending their set list (our reward, Meth says, for finally coming alive). And what happens as the world's greatest rap group is rocking out to "Gravel Pit" at five past midnight? The lights come on. The mikes go poof...
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Personal Bias: Rizoh is nominally related to RZA
The Crowd: was weak sauce.
Overheard in the Crowd: "OMG! Did you see that? He just took off his shoes and started deejaying with his feet!"
Set List "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit" "Bring da Ruckus" "Clan in da Front" "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" "Shame on a Nigga" "Method Man" "C.R.E.A.M." "Protect Ya Neck" "Tearz" "Liquid Swords" "Brooklyn Zoo" "Ice Cream" "Triumph" "Gravel Pit"