Saturday, October 30, 2004

Jay-Z, R. Kelly / Madison Square Garden / Oct. 29, 2004

Holy cow. By now, you’ve probably heard all about what went down last night. If not, read this. Or tune into Hot 97 for like 10 minutes, and somebody will clue you in.

We were sitting in the way-way-way back nosebleed section, so we couldn’t hear everything that was going on, due to all the reverberations. Thus, I can’t offer any juicy tidbits that you couldn’t get from the major news media. But I can tell you that nobody seemed upset in the slightest when R. Kelly announced that he wasn’t coming back on, myself included. After Jay-Z’s pedal-to-the-medal sets, R. Kelly’s lugubrious slow jams were just buzzkills. Sure, I would have loved to have sung along to “I Believe I Can Fly,” but if I had to choose between that and Mary J. Blige singing the shit out of “Song Cry” PLUS Usher doing “Confessions (Part II) a cappella—well, it’s no contest. Usher was amazing, oozing pure showmanship and liquid body movements. Allegedly, he was sitting in the audience when all the trouble went down, and proceeded to run backstage, download some backing tracks onto his laptop, burn them to CD and hand them to the sound guy, before rushing on stage. Damn. My opinion of that guy just went through the roof. I actually felt bad for Jigga during Usher’s set, since he didn’t have anything to do. He just stood on the side of the stage and went “Uhh. Yeah.” a few times while his show was being hijacked by the most popular singer in America.

When Foxy Brown came out for her part in “Ain’t No N****,” nobody cared, at least as far as I could tell. Hell, even Freeway got a bigger reception. (That dude is CRAZY, by the way. I didn’t realize how huge and confrontational he is. From the way he was running around and shouting, you would have thought that Bonecrusher was inhabiting his body. But at least Freeway kept his shirt on.)

Before everything fell apart, I thought the coolest part of the show would prove to be when Jay-Z showed a montage of clips of Kurt Cobain smashing guitars during one song. (Anybody know which one it was? I can’t remember.) I was confused at first, but then it all made sense: rage is rage, no matter what color you are.

Also, I really should say something about the crowd. It was probably the most diverse group of people I’ve been a part of since…well, it would truthfully be the subway ride into Manhattan that day, but in a concert context, since I saw Prince at the Garden this summer. All ages, from little kids to middle-aged steppers out on dates, all races, all manners of dress. And when Hova yelled, “IS BROOKLYN IN THE HOUSE?” we all screamed together.