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UWM Pantherfest w/ Common and Dashboard Confessional @ The Marcus Amphitheater

Sept. 11, 2009

Sep. 16, 2009
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The widely shared critique of Common's 2008 album Universal Mind Control is that it contradicts the artist's hip-hop revivalist past, but even though the Chicago rapper renounced his virtuous lyrics for misogynistic, amoral lines, his beats are as forward-thinking as ever, and they pumped an extra kick into his University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Pantherfest show at the Marcus Amphitheater last Friday.

Consecutive club-rap hits "Sex 4 Suga" and "Punch Drunk Love" set the tone early, promising that instead of a series of the word slinger's slow jams, the gig would be an all-out booty-shakin' romp. At times, Common's thunder was out of control. When three audience members stormed the stage to break dance during Finding Forever's "The People," Common halted the song and told the three guys to "respect the stage."

Later, Common embarked on a hip-hop history lesson, spitting lines from A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum" and mixing Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M.," LL Cool J's "I Need Love," Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" and others before closing the pastiche with Joe's "Stutter." And he dropped Milwaukee locales like Water Street and the East Side, along with stereotypical Wisconsin fare—beer and the Packers—in a four-minute freestyle rap.

Opening the night, Dashboard Confessional intertwined Chris Carrabba's early sappy acoustic rock with the group's harder power pop. The hit that rocketed Dashboard to instant fame, "Screaming Infidelities," fell flat; the song lost its intimacy when played with a full band as opposed to Carrabba's lone guitar and sentimental voice. And a cover of Weezer’s "El Scorcho" sounded uninspired, with the frontman trying to pull off his best Rivers Cuomo impersonation instead of owning the song himself.

Carrabba and company twice spliced covers into their own songs, infusing a chorus of U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" at the end of "Rooftops and Invitations" and weaving Say Anything's "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" with the otherwise earnestly sung "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most." A blazing rendition of "Hands Down," Dashboard's most gleeful tune, ended the gig on a high note, though, as an elated crowd sang every word.


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