Last Night: Public Enemy at Revolution Live, September 17

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Public Enemy

With Mayday and Blowfly

Revolution, Fort Lauderdale

Friday, September 17, 2010

Looking out from behind the stage into a sea of crosshair-adorned chests, I felt a strong sense of pride as a screaming crowd of 600-plus South Floridians reclaimed the classic Public Enemy fist pump that had been so wrongfully annexed by the douches on Jersey Shore. When Public Enemy hit the floor for the last US stop on their Fear of a Black Planet 20-year Anniversary Tour, with all original members in tow (sans Terminator X who retired in 2003 to become an ostrich farmer), a bomb of awesomeness went off inside Revolution Live.

All my discrepancies with Flav's reality show antics and PE's musical output over the last 15 years were blown from my head in a shotgun blast of hype verse and anthemic chorus. What struck me more than anything though was how good the Bomb Squad-produced instrumentals sounded live. Even with the addition of a live band, a divisive performance strategy that usually serves to "cheese" up the overall sound of raw sample-based production, the tracks were as heavy, dense, and powerful as anything I've ever heard. And although the sense of danger surrounding PE's Fear of a Black Planet might have diminished slightly in the last 20 years, the brilliant dichotomy of party vibe and militancy that's so indicative of Public Enemy's style has remained strongly intact.

Despite the $20 I lost on a bet that Chuck D would be wearing Knicks basketball shorts, this was the most bang for my buck I'd received in a long while. From the gritty classic rap of Miami vet Garcia to the adult music parodies of dirty rapper Blowfly and finally the upbeat classy b-boy stylings of Mayday, the show was progressively lovely. When the curtain went up again, Chuck D was there to offer personal cosigns to all the openers and then, much to everyone's chagrin, to introduce two more openers who put on enthusiastic, if however misguided, performances during which there was admittedly a fair amount of shit-talk going on. But the second an S1W goose-stepped into view of the audience with Prof. Griff closely behind, all was quickly forgotten. After a full hour + of classics like "Fight the Power", "Don't Believe the Hype," and "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," an open session round-robin family jam put the finishing touches on what was by far the best anniversary party I've ever been to. No encores needed.

Better than: the 20th anniversary of my life.


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