Over the Weekend: 12/17
Before we get into this weekend's exceptional music slate, with Andrew Bird supported by Haley Bonar, the hip-hopstravaganza that was the Doomtree Blowout and so forth, I would like to be sure one item about the Wu-Tang Clan remains unforgotten. You'll get to read Nate Patrin's full review below, too.
See, the Wu-Tang Clan isn't really the Wu-Tang Clan without Ol' Dirty Bastard. This is not to denigrate the remaining MCs: the world is not the same without ODB, one of the truly larger than life figures of our times. Did you know he once pulled a four-year-old from a burning car? It's true. But the moment I'd like to remember him by is his bumrush of the Grammys stage, where he made a few points -- all salient, all hilarious:
Puffy is good. Wu-Tang is the best. And he loves us all -- never forget that. RIP ODB.
With that being said, the weekend:
We in the Twin Cities love us some Andrew Bird. The idiosyncratic multi-instrumentalist sold out two shows at the Guthrie and there was still substantial demand for a third show Sunday afternoon at Cedar Cultural Center.
Andrew Bird played an array of instruments this weekend. See more of James Tran's photos here.
Here's one anecdote that demonstrates his popularity, even among media types that get to see tons of different artists. Photographer James Tran went to both Guthrie shows and wanted to hit all three. When I solicited freelance music writers about possibly reviewing one of the concerts, more than one said "Let me know which one you want me to review -- because I want to buy tickets to the others."
By all reports, the shows (which support Bird's latest effort, Armchair Apocrypha), lived up to expectations, with the artist performing on guitar and violin among other instruments, and sometimes playing two at once.
Wu Tang Clan
Sunday, Dec. 16, First Avenue
Review by Nate Patrin
Ghostface Killah, Method Man, GZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, U-God, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (in spirit) – almost everyone in the Wu-Tang Clan, including 10th/9th member Cappadonna, took to the stage at quarter after 11 p.m. Sunday night. But even though his presence loomed large through the speakers that pounded his legendary beats, founder and leader the RZA was completely absent from this second stop on the Wu’s winter tour. Weirder still: they released an album last week, the solid-to-great 8 Diagrams, mentioned it once near the end of the show, and played approximately zero tracks off it.
This should tell you most of what you need to know concerning the Wu-Tang Clan’s current state of flux right now. To recap: 8 Diagrams, the first Wu-Tang group effort since 2001’s Iron Flag, is a dense and frequently weird record that is alternately more melodic, more psychedelic, more subdued and more fractured than any of their previous records. Raekwon and Ghostface have gone on record as not being entirely thrilled with RZA’s production work, and there’ve been rumors spreading of the Wu going forward in the future without him.
It seems almost unthinkable from a group unity standpoint, but as concerts go it seemed to go off pretty well – Meth reprised his role as stage-diving, crowd-amping dynamo, Ghostface shouted out his verses with a scary intensity that made his commanding performance at the Varsity last summer look subdued (no small feat), Raekwon did his Only Built 4 Cuban Linx classics justice, Cappadonna got a couple chances to tear shit up acappella, Deck and Masta Killa rounded out the mic front lines, and even though he spent a few minutes at the back of the stage tinkering with his cell phone, GZA showed the flashes of brilliance that another Varsity crowd was lucky to see a year ago.
And even though their setlist was more than familiar to Wu diehards – most of it came from the first wave of greatness that started with 1993’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and continued over the next couple years with solo records like Method Man’s Tical, GZA’s Liquid Swords and Raekwon’s Cuban Linx – it was something different to hear lines that were delivered by one man on wax belted out by three or four or more MCs on stage. Even without their founder the RZA and their most outrageous member ODB (the latter of whom was given a fitting medley/tribute with a quick run-through of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” “Brooklyn Zoo” and the hook to “Got Your Money”), they sounded, if not complete, at least massive.
The third annual Doomtree Blowout occurred at First Avenue Friday, Dec. 14. The huge night for the hip-hop collective was documented in photos by Daniel Corrigan.