Run-D.M.C. Are the Once and Forever Kings

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Boom 92 Boom Bash
Featuring Run-D.M.C., Rakim, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Naughty By Nature
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
June 11, 2016

Did you know that Run-D.M.C. was coming to town?

Maybe I just run in the wrong circles, but it felt like this rare appearance by one of the most important groups in modern music history flew completely under the radar. In fact, up until they hit the stage and kicked into “Rock Box,” I wasn’t entirely sure that I was being set up as the victim to a very elaborate and very mean practical joke.

There are a very small handful of acts that exist whose greatness can’t be overstated, no matter how hard you try. They’re so important to the fabric of our culture that you can pile a mountain of hyperbole on them and most people will just nod their heads and agree. Think about all the tributes to Muhammad Ali last week; each and every last one of them was deserved.

I would argue that Run-D.M.C. absolutely belong in that category. Every rapper you love, great or small, local or global, prison tough or pillow soft, owes them a debt for what they did for hip-hop and popular culture. What I’m saying is that it’s not just the sucker M.C.s that should call them sire.

A Run-D.M.C. set in 2016 is not a marathon. It’s not epic in the traditional rock sense. It’s a series of well-crafted sprints with ample downtime for Run and D.M.C. to catch their breath before jumping back into “Peter Piper” or “My Adidas.” When the beat drops, they can still rock the mike with the best of them, the flow sounding as good at it did when they put the tracks down in the first place.

Time and religion haven’t dulled Run; as he said himself, he might wear a collar but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to make money. He bounded across the stage, he kept the energy up, and he had the crowd laughing again and again. D.M.C. played it mostly silent when it came to banter, but never failed to impress when it came time to spit. Jam Master Jay is missed, but they did give his son some time to spin some Houston hip-hop classics in a moment that the crowd seemed to dig.

Summer is here, and I know we’re all busy, but it just seems weird that more people weren’t excited about the fact that Run-D.M.[expletive of your choice]C. came to town. I mean, they’re not exactly Kate Bush rare, but this was only the 8th show they’ve played together since they reunited in 2012. This might very well have been their last show in Houston ever (but I hope not).

Talking to one of my editors earlier this week, it was suggested that maybe the reason it flew under the radar was that it was part of a radio festival. Radio fests, with their built-in audiences, don’t have to do a ton of promo to push tickets.

While Buzzfest may be the reigning king of the Houston radio-festival scene, Boom Bash, if they keep making moves like bringing Run-D.M.C. to town, is one to watch. I’ve never been to a show in The Woodlands where the crowd seemed more into the show. I thought they were going to blow the damn tent off during Naughty by Nature’s set the way people were jumping around in their seats. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony also had the crowd going while they were on, and plenty of folks were excited to see the God MC himself, Rakim.

Hell, the crowd were even super-into things when it was just Ed Lover and a DJ spinning the classics. When was the last time you saw anyone dancing along to “Do the Pee Wee Herman”? Don’t even get me started on how happy I was to see so many people dancing to “Apache.” Ed Lover, by the way, is an incredible host for this type of thing.

Buzzfest and a Day in the Country, I imagine, will continue to be uber-successful, but Boom Bash is the festival I’ll be counting down to next summer.

Personal Bias: I’m not saying that “King of Rock” has the best opening lines of all time, but I did get chills hearing them live. I’m sad “Mary, Mary” might be as close as I get to seeing The Monkees this year.

The Crowd: A collection of people who might have owned Raising Hell on cassette tape and still harbor a healthy love of the old school. A couple of people doing their best Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J cosplay.

Overheard in the Crowd: A lot of strangers giving each other the type of high-five that happens when you see someone else singing along to the song that you’re singing. It’s a good high-five.

Random Notebook Dump: This was the first time that I’ve ever been out at The Woodlands when there was a lightning warning issued. This crowd was pretty chill about it, but I’m horrified to think about what would happen if it was, for example, a 5 Seconds of Summer crowd. My ears will have nightmares about the idea.

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