fair warning

So this weekend, Miranda and I (along with Anne and spent a lovely Saturday afternoon at Central Park’s Summerstage, seeing a free concert featuring De La Soul. Well, more accurately, De La Soul Minus Prince Paul Who Kinda Has His Own Much More Profitable Thing Right Now, but whatever: they played about an 80-minute set which was a good mix of early and late material, and did their damndest to work up a crowd that had been kinda beat down by the interminable opening acts.

Ah, the opening acts. To start with, there were three of them, which was just a little too much for a crowd that had been standing on line for in some cases 2-3 hours before getting to the ampitheatre. The second and third openers (a funk ensemble called Breakestra and an acoustic canadian hip-hop act called K-OS) were both actually pretty good, but the first one…

Ladies and gentlemen, how much do you have to suck to be booed off the stage at a free concert?

The answer, it turns out, is: you have to suck at least as much as Jonzi D.

Jonzi D was introduced by an optimistic-sounding intern as a rapper/singer/dancer/poet/performance artist from London. What this turned out to mean in practice was that he would, in order: recite a bit of slam-style (but not terribly good) poetry, then dance a little bit as his DJ looped some uninspired beats, then launch into an incomprehensible 10-line political monologue, then pause to tell the crowd how honored he was to be in the home of hip-hop. Rinse, repeat. The DJ wasn’t spinning anything except during his little breaks, so the whole thing came off as stilted, pretentious and un-rehearsed all at once. Pretty much the entire audience was looking around in embarrassed horror, and then the poor guy’s mic started cutting out every other word. That was when the booing began, and about 5 minutes later he basically slunk off the stage.

I’ve seen some bad shows in my time, in many genres of music, but this was hands-down the poorest performance I’ve ever seen at a live concert. The technical problems pushed it over the top, but even the unmolested parts of ths show we heard were so bad that I have to consider the broken mic to be a blessing. So this is a warning to all of my friends, especially the British ones: this guy is still out there, somewhere. Be alert. Be on guard. The eardrums you save could be your own.

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