Last Night: Wu-Tang Clan At Numbers

Photos by Marco Torres
Method Man presses the flesh. See a slideshow of the Killer Bees (and several of H-Town's finest, who opened) here.
Wu-Tang Clan
December 12, 2010

Sunday night's Wu-Tang Clan show ended around 2:30 this morning, after five or six openers and more than five hours on our feet. By the time the group went onstage, at around 12:50 a.m., the crowd had waited almost one hour in place, only kept alive by DJ Elroy Boogie's work and the prospect of seeing one of the best collectives in hip-hop... eventually.

There was bitching and moaning, and a few bottles thrown at the stage. Social media was in a lather with people complaining about the late starts and lulls. Fans started leaving, cursing the group, while others hunkered down for the wait. But anyone who has ever been to more than one hip-hop show knows these things don't run on time. It's the nature of the game. You wait it out.

There was a time, years ago, when rock shows were the same way, before curfews and sound ordinances laid the hammer down. The headliner would come on an hour after the last opener, working up the crowd into equal parts exhilaration and stress until the headliner decided to hit the stage. Hip-hop doesn't run on rock time.

iLL LiaD
Aftermath arrived around 9:30 p.m. in time to see Nosaprise's opening set, which gave way to Ill Iliad and Jon Black and then scene-maven Fat Tony. The concept of having local openers at touring act shows in Houston is something that we wish we could see more, especially in rock and roll. It exposes artists who may well already have firmly established fanbases to crowds who normally wouldn't see them.

Some bands coming through shun local support for whatever reason, either by what we assume is greed, or wanting to bolster their own touring supporting cats that are traveling with them in vans behind their buses.

If you saw Wu-Tang this morning (it wasn't that long ago) you would have seen a section of Houston hip-hop that is bursting with flavor and aggression. Everyone threw in harrowing sets, including Nosaprise, whose set was more punk than rap, even without instruments.

iLL LiaD came out like a junkyard dog, begging for garbage to be thrown at him, which instigated just a small barrage of empty cups, some straws and, strangely enough, cash. His partner Jon Black was a recent find, helped along the 20 minutes of chaos.

Fat Tony came out for what we thought (haha, thinking) would be the last act before Wu-Tang like a conqueror in a full-length mink coat. He wasn't just a local opener last night, it seemed, he transcended Houston. We've seen Tony a million times before, and last night he was Texas rap. During his handful of tracks from new LP RABDARGAB, he came into his own.

Fat Tony, American Gangster style
B L A C K I E's small guest spot with Tony thrilled those of us in the crowd who were already familiar with him. Like we said, most of these folks probably hadn't seen any of our locals before, let alone been at a real live local hip-hop show.

Wu's touring opener, La The Darkman, was a total mood change from the fun Houston shit. He was like a brick wall. There was no audience interaction, and he seemed just pissed that he was there. It was like your favorite teacher falling ill and a veteran substitute being dragged out of bed to lead the class.

There was no personality and it felt generic, unlike the Wu to come. God love the dude, we know his work on record, but damn that was a buzzkill after the H-Town party.

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