Well, it’s official. I’ve tried to avoid it by partying, playing in bands, and soaking up current music of all kinds but it’s finally happened: I’ve become old. Very old. Judging by last night’s Chief Keef concert and the rowdy response to it, I’ve hit the 1,000 year mark, at least.
There were about 120 or so people in the crowd (great for a Tuesday in Reno) and most were 16 to 18 years old. As a substitute teacher for Washoe County School District, I even recognized a handful of them. I figured they would mouth the words and dance a little but when Keef took the stage they came alive in a way I’ve never seen. Clouds of smoke hit the sky and the crowd of kiddos became an amorphous mob, losing it to the terribly compressed beats clipping their way through Cargo’s impressive sound system.
After a competent outing by local hip-hop duo The Halve Two and 30 minutes of house tunes, Chief Keef took the stage with eight cohorts, four of whom with their own mics, and the group proceeded to drink, dance, and rap along with the lyrics just like the crowd. With many of the performers in hats and glasses, it took me a bit to pick out which one was Keef. It wasn’t a performance, it was a party, complete with bottles being passed from hand to hand and arms being slung over shoulders in faded half-hugs of companionship.
In the last couple years I’ve seen Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator, Chance The Rapper, Kevin Gates, etc. The point is I listen to rap and hip-hop. I consider myself more than a casual fan and while what I saw last night may have been the worst show I’ve ever seen, it was also the most actively engaged I’ve ever seen a crowd at Cargo or anywhere in Reno. More than once it crossed my mind that I was watching a musical changing of the guards, something akin to the punk movement in ’70s New York or the British Invasion of the ’60s.
So although I didn’t “get it” and I spent more time feeling like my dad than I ever have before, the energy that was bouncing off the walls of that concert hall can’t be denied. Songs like 2012 hit “I Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa” had kiddos running back to the empty bar damn near gasping for water. Whether or not it was some sort of musical evolution I don’t know. But it was certainly a helluva good time — for them.
The Halve Two
Reno emcees Junes and Libs make up the hip-hop duo The Halve Two and for 45 tumultuous minutes they fought the good fight with a crowd clearly uninterested in what they had to offer. The two piece has a Blue Scholars-meets-Jurassic 5 sound but dipped in the self-deprecating, self-awareness that comes along with being 30 and white.
“We’re gonna slow it down for you guys since you’re just standing there anyway,” Libs half-joked to the crowd halfway through the set. The Reno locals finished strong and did the best they could to pump up the crowd for what was next.