With Numonics and Phresh James
Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale
Sunday, June 20, 2010
No, there were no fog machines running in Revolution during the Wiz Kalifah show, not a single one. No, the low-lying cloud settled on the sold-out crowd of skinny jeans, fitted hats, and colorful shoes was completely man-made. As Wiz hit the stage to riotous applause, performing songs from his new mixtape, Kush and Orange Juice (among others), it was clear to see that little emphasis would be placed on the latter.
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From the empty bar, I watch Khalifa work his almost Goofy-esque charisma to a screaming horde of college-aged megafans, the vast majority of whom hadn't missed a single lyric even by the middle of the set. In about an hour of 808s, tattoos, dranks, bitches, money, kush, weed, purp and Twitter adverts, Wiz delivered a pretty standard, bare-bones rap show. To be honest, it's the same live show that most all well-known rappers have: run around the stage a little, take your shirt off, and let the audience and hypeman handle a majority of the vocal responsibilities. But really when a room full of 1,500 people knows the words to every one of your songs, little else is required of you. Wiz's pop-star effect on the audience is definitely proof that he's far surpassed his XXL's "Freshman" status and graduated to the top of the new class. Virtually all in attendance were brimming with genuine enthusiasm for the man, and even corny crowd calls like "Wake-N-Bake" and "Rolling-Doobies-Up" were drawing electricity out of these supercharged fans.
Damn, was this really the same audience that sat nearly comatose through three hype acts of opening support? D.Schwartz, Numonics, and Phresh James -- all three of them well-known hometown heroes with new records getting heavy circulation on the interweb -- put in solid performances with only some slight technical difficulties (goddamned DJ!!) to what I assumed would be a lot more fanfare. Schwartz played heat off his new Foot on the Gas project with producer B-Wirks, beatmaker Numonics was joined on stage by a wild cast including Florida MCs Butta Verses, Saheed, LMS, Quest, Streets Buchanon, and drummer Sandor Davidson, and Mr. James rounded it out on the "MIAliens" tip with some good tunes that were probably the most laterally similar to Wiz's out of everybody. I'm not saying no one got any love; there were definitely some responsive fans in earshot for all. But just to put things in perspective, the only time audience noise levels reached above a 6 was when Butta Verses asked, "Is there anybody in the house from Coral Springs?" It was clear these kids were saving themselves for Khalifa.
It wasn't until fellow Pittsburghian DJ Bonics started in with the Top 40 stuff that things began to warm up and I immediately began feeling old. There were hundreds of 18-year-old girls dancing around me in a circle, and I was typing some harsh commentary into my phone about how tight all the dudes' pants were. In my oversized Dickie shorts, I started to feel like one of those '80s metal dudes that works at Guitar Center, with the acid-washed jeans and sleeveless Cinderella shirt, frowning at everyone in disapproval. Whether you believe the hype or not, you can't deny that Wiz Khalifa is definitely onto something. Pop enough for Drake fans, lyrical enough for rap heads, fashionable enough for hipsters, and high enough for everybody.
**On an unrelated note, watch out for recent Interscope signee Yelawolf. I'm wagering I'll see all these same kids again when he sells out Revolution in another six months or so.