Music News

Up a Hill

So the space shuttle Discovery finally launched three days after its original lift-off date of July 1. NASA blamed bad weather for the three-day delay. Fair enough. But what was the reason for the other delay on July 1 — you know, Ms. Lauryn Hill's big holdup at West Palm Beach's Soulfull Saturday? Three hours after her scheduled set time of 6:45 pm, Hill finally took the stage — some ten minutes after the headliner, the great Al Green, was supposed to have started. Hill's set was eventually cut short when the sound guys turned her off midsong. Too bad she didn't perform acoustically, as was advertised.

So what was the reason for Hill's tardiness? Was it technical problems? A wardrobe malfunction? I asked the event's organizers, Bryan Silber and Chase Tureaud of Incentric Entertainment, but they didn't have an answer. In fact, they didn't seem too concerned with Hill's shenanigans. Because when all was said and done, Al Green's performance was pure gold and well worth the wait. And according to Silber, we can thank the city for allowing the show to go on past the park's 11 p.m. curfew. Green's set didn't start until 11:30 and ended an hour later.

"We made a decision that as long as we had the extension, we'd get Ms. Hill to perform," Silber says. "The most important thing for us was to make sure we got her on stage and the people got their money's worth. The city deserves all the credit. They were responsible for allowing it to happen."

And, Tureaud adds, the city didn't bill Incentric for the overtime. "That's the new West Palm Beach," Tureaud says. "Mayor [Lois] Frankel wants this to be a 24-hour city. This was her way of putting her ideas into practice."

As for Ms. Hill, Tureaud and Silber say they weren't in direct contact with her and have no idea where she was or what she was doing while her fans oh-so-patiently waited. "All I can say is that she wasn't on site at her scheduled time," Tureaud says.

But the sound guys were. And they're the ones controlling the volume. Hell, if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's never mess with the sound guy. I found that out the hard way when I was 17 and performing my first public event with a band called the Happy Accidents. We showed up late to an Amnesty International benefit at Lake Worth's Bryant Park. The sound guy was pissed. But what did I do? I flipped him the bird and called him names during our set. He shut us down after ten minutes — the right thing to do.

"Oh, but Ms. Hill is a Grammy Award-winning artist," you say.

Yeah, so was Milli Vanilli... what's your point? At least they didn't take forever to set up. All those cats needed was someone to pop in a tape and press play. Despite Green's topnotch performance — his professionalism made up for Hill's flakiness — the experience left me with a slight hangover. What Fats needed was a change of scenery, to a place where performers don't play hide-and-seek with the audience, where the stage turnaround is fast — and where girls get in free for wearing bikinis. Yep, it was time for Fats to hit up the Seminole Hard Rock for Little Steven's Underground Garage Tour, the poolside party hosted by Little Steven Van Zandt, Sirius Radio personality, former E-Street Band guitarist, and Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. Headlining the July 2 show were the Shadows of Knight and the Buzzcocks. Though I saw the Buzzcocks a week earlier at the Warped Tour, I was curious to check 'em out in a different environment.

"We liked playing the Warped Tour, but this is more of a holiday," the Buzzcocks' Steve Diggle said after the band's set. He was right. It felt like a vacation: the giant lagoon-styled swimming pool, the man-made beach areas, the smell of suntan lotion, and the family types who strolled over from the nearby resort. They were probably wondering about all those people who weren't wearing bathing suits, especially the guy who looked like Greg Gumbel. And so was I. After moving in for a closer look, I realized that it was Greg Gumbel. Apparently, he's a Broward County resident and friend of Van Zandt's. And there he was, chillin' with a Rolling Rock.

"Steven's a friend of mine, so I figured I'd drop by," Gumbel said. "I'm always up for checking out live music."

And I'm always up for checking out live music accompanied by go-go dancers. The skimpy, '60s-styled outfits worn by Little Steven's go-go crew were an eyeful, but even they were overdressed compared to the audience. Normally, the sight of bare-chested guys at a rock show makes me cringe. But it made sense here. Of course, Fats was a dumbass and wore a black shirt and pants. What can I say? I thought it'd be raining. It's not like I can't handle the heat. The Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley, I'm not so sure about.

For the show's grand finale, Little Steven joined the Shadows of Knight for the band's big hit, the Van Morrison-penned "Gloria."

"This is and always will be the national anthem of rock 'n' fuckin' roll!" Van Zandt shouted, announcing that all the bands would be joining in the collaborative finale. The stage was full, no doubt. But the Buzzcocks? I glanced over at their "green room," a tiki hut with a TV inside. Sure enough, there was Shelley, sprawled back on a lounge chair. He was spent. But hey — the Buzzcocks earned their break. At least they were on time.

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Jason Budjinski