The most dangerous concert I’ve ever been to didn’t involve MCs, turntables, or guns. It involved Circa Survive, guitars, alcohol, and a rousing rendition of “I Felt Free.” I’ve never been more scared during a night of music in my life than I was at the business end of a boot to the thigh while trying to claw my way to oxygen during a rock show at the (former) Best Buy Theater in 2014. I’ve seen concertgoers concussed at metal shows; I’ve taken feet to the face at punk shows; I’ve even dealt with excruciating body heat at outdoor festivals. Those special physical threats are rare at hip-hop shows, but they’ll continue to unfairly bear that cross, especially in the wake of the Troy Ave shooting at Irving Plaza almost three weeks ago.
Last night, Aesop Rock, Homeboy Sandman, and Creature brought the first hip-hop show post-Troy Ave shooting through Irving Plaza. After management, Live Nation, and the NYPD felt the need to cancel hip-hop shows across the city and even instill an 11PM curfew at the venue, the show went the exact opposite way officials thought it might: smoothly. I went to go peep the show myself and here’s what happened:
6:21 – Arrived at Irving Plaza. There’s two lines (VIP/GA) and the GA line is corralled into sections to keep fans from blocking residential doors. Hop online and impatiently wait for friends to get here from Five Guys on W 29th & 7th.
6:28 – Three cops are patrolling the front area.
7:07 – Doors open. Friends get here late, begrudgingly hop to the back of the line.
7:10 – Security searches bag thoroughly.
7:15 – Wait for friends at the back of the line.
7:30 – Check merch booth before show starts.
7:37 – No show.
7:48 – No show. Heads to the merch booth for foolish purchases.
8:00 – Still no show.
8:01 – Creature and Rebelmatic take the stage. Hearty rap-rock that gets people jumping. Security/police must be very confused right now.
8:12 – Creature/Rebelmatic end.
8:31 – Homeboy Sandman takes the stage.
8:47 – Very sweaty Sandman becomes a human sprinkler. First three rows are drenched.
9:15 – Sandman ends.
9:21 – Group of people slides in front of us. Complains about people in front of them taking up too much space. Grates teeth.
9:27 – Other friend offers to switch with our group. Urge to slap in the back of the head dulls.
9:29 – Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, & DJ Zone take the stage.
10:17 – Cops presumably startled awake by disc scratches from DJ Zone.
10:56 – Rock/Sonic/Zone ends.
10:58 – Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman come out to perform ‘Lice’ encore.
11:12 – ‘Lice’ ends. Heads back to the merch booth for more foolish purchases.
By the time we’d left the building, we didn’t even realize it was past the supposedly strict curfew; our night had been so fun and manageable, we hardly noticed. It was what every good hip-hop show in New York City has been: slick rhymes, good vibes, and hoarse voices. You try rapping all of “None Shall Pass” without collapsing a lung an hour after performing on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. Even a handful of drunk assholes can’t ruin that.
Admittedly, Aesop Rock’s mostly white fan-base isn’t exactly the demographic the NYPD is afraid of, but this was the first step in the right direction toward proving that hip-hop isn’t the problem with gun violence. I promise that Lil Uzi Vert and 21 Savage’s fans will continue to prove us right when they perform at Irving Plaza On June 29.