Home / Music / Concert Reviews / Lupe Fiasco w/ Yo-Dot and Pharaoh Mac & DMT @ The Rave

Lupe Fiasco w/ Yo-Dot and Pharaoh Mac & DMT @ The Rave

Nov. 27, 2015

Nov. 30, 2015
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Photo credit: Rhianna O'Shea
Though they may seem inconsequential much of the time, the concert-going experience is shaped by plenty of elements beyond music, one being what an artist chooses to say, or not say, between songs. Even if most performers simply stick to the tried-and-true method of pandering to the audience, recycling the same rote lines from night to night (my apologies if you thought Milwaukee crowds actually rock harder than those anywhere else), an off-the-cuff comment, if funny or meaningful enough, can be as memorable as your favorite number. Yet while we all appreciate a little candor or a moment feeling specific to a particular tour stop, these kinds of asides are best doled out sparingly and with purpose, lest they become a distraction, as they did during Friday night’s show from Lupe Fiasco.

The evening’s two local warm-up acts had to contend with another element which dramatically affects the concert experience albeit one less within their control, namely the Rave’s uneven sound, which was exacerbated by the stage being constructed across the middle of the Eagles Ballroom. Openers Pharaoh Mac & DMT got things going, bringing along not just a live drummer but a cellist and violinist as well, collectively known elsewhere as SistaStrings. It’s an interesting addition to the usual hip-hop setup, notably on “Same Time,” but one that sadly would have come off far better were the mix not so severe. Yo-Dot endured a similar disservice but managed to shine nonetheless, at one point going a cappella for a song in an apparent effort to finally get his point across for once.

The sound’s rougher edges conveniently disappeared as Lupe took the stage, leaping forcefully into his set with “Mural.” For a stretch it seemed as if Fiasco wasn’t ever going to let off the gas; then he abruptly did, stopping “Kick Push” partway through to fixate on some random audience member, “Blake,” whom he repeatedly returned to as a focus for stray thoughts. These became stranger after a stream-of-consciousness spoken-word segment, ostensibly about Laquan McDonald (somehow devolved into fighting words for Kid Cudi), which he then spent several song-breaks walking back with quasi-philosophical speeches about forgiveness. More subjects followed, and by the time he proclaimed his own Tetsuo & Youth album of the year his initial momentum was long gone, which is why it’s usually best to let the music do most of the talking.

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