Last Night Maximum Capacity Bullshit
posted by May 20 at 12:10 PMon
El-P, Dizzee Rascal @ Neumo’s
Last night’s “sold out” El-P and Dizzee Rascal show at Neumo’s was my first at the venue since it’s capacity was recently cut by the city, and, to be blunt, it’s bullshit. Granted, I have no professional experience in evaluating building capacity, but I’ve been to a ton of concerts in the last 13 years (wow, oldster moment), and last night’s show was not at capacity by any reasonable standard. During the co-headliners’ sets, the “sold out” crowd only packed about the front half of the room and the mezzanine’s balcony; the rear of the room and the rest of the mez were totally sparse.
Before anyone accuses me or the Stranger of being Neumo’s lapdog (a notion Severin and LaJuenesse would be more than happy to disabuse you of), I have, of course, been to Neumo’s (and other clubs) when they’re overcrowded, and it sometimes sucks. Neumo’s can be especially hellish at a truly packed summertime show. From a purely selfish standpoint, it was kind of nice last night to have an artificially empty room—there were no long lines for drinks or the bathroom, it was painlessly easy to wander around the club. But there were probably a hundred or so more people who would’ve loved to see that show even if the place was a little more crammed, but who were unnecessarily shut out.
It must have looked weird from onstage for Dizzee and El-P, to go from a probably properly sold-out show the night before to this to another packed show the night after. I’m sure someone at the venue explained the situation, but still, if I were one of these touring artists, I would be left with the distinct feeling that Seattle doesn’t have its shit together about music and nightlife.
The show itself, when I finally got over the absurd amount of space in the place, was great. The audience that crowded the front of the room was totally enthusiastic, jumping up and down, waving arms, shouting call and responses loud enough to make the crowd sound twice its size (which, again, it could’ve been). Dizzee Rascal opened with “I Luv U,” played anthems “Stand Up Tall” and “Fix Up Look Sharp,” with DJ Aaron LaCrate, smiling wide, spinning the Billy Squire mash-up version of the latter track. I realized that the track “Paranoid,” with it chorus of “Rinse me out / use me up / cuss me down / fuck me up” delivered in Dizzee’s mad accented bark sounds like nothing so much as a lost Crass song.
El-P and Dizzee are, as has no doubt already been observed, massively different MCs. Dizzee’s voice and cadences may be foreign, but his charisma and moves are classic hip hop. El-P, on the other hand, has a stage presence more like lead singer of a rock band—I don’t think I’ve seen any other MC use a mic stand rather than hold his mic in his hand. El-P leaned on his mic stand, thumped it into the stage, held onto it for support as he shook and seized, eyes shut, like some bulkier Ian Curtis—total rock singer stuff, like he’s been spending a lot of time with Trent Reznor. The crowd was stoked; when El-P commanded they put their hands up and keep their hands up, they did; when he told everybody to scream, everybody screamed. He encored with “Tuned Mass Damper” and then hi-fived/shook hands with all the fans at the foot of the stage.