When you recommend an event, you're basically telegraphing expectations on an artist's body of work. However, there is risk involved with live appearances.
For instance, there was no way of knowing that Madlib would spend the majority of the first half of his Fri/4 show at 103 Harriet pausing to ask, "Who knows Quasimoto?," "Y'all know J Dilla?," and "Who's from the West Coast?" in order to drum up applause, and presumably, interest. This is a classic stage trick, and a musician will usually try to drum up support two or three times, in order to work the crowd into a frenzy. Last night, however, no matter how many different questions he asked or how loud the response went, there seemed to be no pleasing Madlib, he just went on and on, frustrating those that had mistakenly come to listen to him play music.
It only got worse once the booing started. While people steadily trickled out of the room for the next half hour or so, the DJ became locked in a battle with one persistent heckler; every beat he attempted to play had a new chorus, as Madlib shouted "You's a fool!" "Foooooooooool!" and numerous other taunts. Madlib angrily insisted that he was just playing with the heckler (and everyone else, apparently), but there was no high road in sight, the music never took the main stage again as the DJ held the mic hostage.
No, even as the next few jockeys crouched in the wings, waiting to try to resuscitate the room, Madlib would not relent. It was an extremely slow death, going on to the point that the shrunken audience remained through a morbid fascination, as if stopping to watch a suicide jumper. Management tried to talk him down, with whispers in his ear, only to have him respond on the mic that five minutes ("Five minutes?") was not enough. If there was ever an argument for reinstating another classic stage trick, the shepherd's crook, it was last night.
And for this, I apologize.
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