Saturday night I took a break from my weekend-long paper writing experiment in madness to catch Dizzee Rascal at Irving Plaza. This was my third time to see Dizzee--I caught his first ever US performance a bit more than a year ago where he rapped from the back of a flatbed truck out in Brooklyn, and I saw him open for the Streets during the summer, perhaps you even remember reading about that?
Anyway, I caught the show with Rebecca Paterson, who's face hasn't popped up on briggie dot blogspot since the Dictatorial Costume Party (scroll down for the Tennis Player.)
This is me trying to look real street.
One of the reasons I went to catch Dizzee a third time is that Pitchfork had a really great review of one of his shows from this tour that made me really want to catch him again. Unfortunately, if you read the review, you'd know everything Dizzee was going to do because his show seemed a spot on imitation of the show reviewed by Pitchfork. For example, Dizzee and his hype man opened by performing "Sitting Here" while sitting in the dark at the front of the stage (pretty cool how my low speed shot caught someon else's flash lighting up the front of the stage, huh?)
And then Dizzee launched into a set that proved to be, as Pitchfork said (and I would have said anyway), got all kinds of bananas.
Did he rap "Jus a Rascal" over "Wanksta"? Yes. Did DJ Wonder switch it over to "Hip Hop" halfway through? Absolutely. And the crowd lost it. Did he rap a part of "Dream" over "Juicy"? You bet, but I'm glad that he performed a good deal of the song over the original track, as "Dream" is the grime equivalent to the Kings of Convenience "I'd Rather Dance With You" video.
And then Dizzee called it a night for a moment before returning to the stage to encore with "Fix Up Look Sharp" and "Stand Up Tall", just like Pitchfork said he would . . . but it's not like that wasn't the easiest encore to predict since the Pixies in December. But there was one surprise: three-quarters of the way through Stand Up Tall DJ Wonder switched in "Lean Back", so that was an exciting bit of unexpectedness . . . not that I doubt he did the same at the show reviewed in Pitchfork, they just didn't mention it.
Dizzee's deejay, DJ Wonder, opened the show with a DJ set "titled" "The History of Grime," which I suppose was supposed to be a sort of primer for us Yanks on this exceptionally rugged sort of UK hip-hop. Will it ever be super-popular in the US? No, it's too rough (beat wise) to catch on full force, but elements of it will show up here and there (or I suppose they already are as TVT recording artist Pitbull has just released a grime track, and of this I am proud).
But, for me, the highlight of Wonder's set, and perhaps the highlight of the whole night, was when, well into his set, he took the microphone and asked the audience "What if I turn up the tempo a bit?" and then closed out his set with fifteen minutes or so of honest to goodness mid-nineties style jungle (not drum 'n bass, not speed garage, real deal jungle). After spending plenty of time listening to (and enjoying) grime tracks that were completely new too me it was great to realize that I was actually hearing songs that I had thought had been cremated and spread over out of fashion specialty record stores . . . it was pretty great to for once hear Shy FX's "Original Nuttah" from a real soundsystem and not my Dad's Ford Taurus SHO (back 10 years) stereo.
Also While I have no regrets about catching Dizzee, it looks like the show to have been to on Saturday night was the Desmond Dekker performance at the Knitting Factory. Sounds like the old dude absolutely murdered the joint. How was I supposed to know it was good? When I saw that this Godfather of ska was coming I thought "Hey, Desmond Dekker, that's neat . . . wait, isn't he old?" Years ago my buddy Chip told me not to go see Dick Dale because he has a ponytail now and just plays his modern compositions, and then someone else told me that Lou Reed shows are embarrassing these days . . . so how was I to know Desmond would keep things so real? My bad.
And Also I forgot to mention the bass situation at the show. Bass nearly shook my skull out. Awesome.