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Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

Method Man @ The Rave

Oct. 26, 2011

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If you go to enough concerts, there are certain signs and rhythms you come to know. For instance, if the band says goodnight but the houselights don't come on, there's going to be an encore, regardless of how much or how little the fans stomp and cheer. Some of these little insights are genre specific, such as the advisable practice of never going to a rap show at the scheduled start time. In contrast to rock, where bands usually have one or two carefully selected openers, an appearance by a big-name MC is often preceded by a seemingly endless string of wannabes and upstarts.

So as a concertgoer, knowing when to show up can mean the difference between a fun night out and a frustrating bore. Sure, there may be diamonds in that opening-act rough, but mostly you just stand around looking at your watch, waiting for the fun to start and cursing whatever monster decided it was OK to charge $7 for a beer. It takes something of a developed sense to know the proper time to turn up, and it's never a bad idea to call the box office beforehand and ask about set times to effectively separate the filler from the killer.

Overhearing a doorman complaining about the number of warm-up acts as I walked in, it was clear that bullet had been dodged. Seemingly only a few minutes after New Orleans-based MC Curren$y wrapped up his confident set, Method Man stormed the stage, launching into a performance that included plenty of Wu-Tang favorites—his de facto theme song, "Method Man" from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), appeared early on—as well as significant selections from his underappreciated Tical albums. Unsurprisingly, the set's few Blackout! cuts provoked an intense reaction in the crowd, which was smallish in the best way, making it easy to get a good view while still maintaining some breathing room.

And a good view is important here, since beyond simply being skilled, Meth possesses an unbelievably charismatic stage presence, cracking jokes, sharing spliffs with the audience and at times walking out onto the sea of people like the second coming of Iggy. Thankfully, he avoided the rap-show cliché of having way too many people onstage, keeping the focus on the man himself. He was, of course, joined by a couple of acolytes, but they made good contributions without weighing things down. The contours of Method Man's one-of-a-kind flow (like Snoop Dogg, Biggie and a few others, he's got one of those rap voices you wouldn't mind hearing read the phone book) never got lost in the ether. On one or two occasions, he even went a cappella, and it was in these rare moments one was able to appreciate that Meth isn't simply a big performer, but a precise one as well. It was a dynamite show, made all the better by not having to slog through amateur hour to get to it.

Photo by Adam Miszewski