Who’s That Peeking In My Window? Goodie Mob at Neumo’s
Goodie Mob Promotional Photo
First off let me congratulate you Seattle! I’d like to thank all those who went out to Neumo’s last Wednesday night to give Goodie Mob the sold out audience that they deserved. I didn’t buy my ticket until 2pm the afternoon of the show and informed a friend of mine that there were still tickets left. I didn’t think it would sellout by the time I made it to Capitol Hill, but I was wrong. We get out front of Neumo’s around 10pm (I’m a genius and left my house without my ticket initially) and saw a queue the size of one those monsters from the movie Tremors.
My gut said “Good grief!” but my fiesta said “High-five!”
The time had come to formulate a plan, how do I get my friend into this sold out show? Let us order some drinks at the Moe Bar and flex some of our novice networking muscle, let us see what we can’t do. Bummer. The conundrum left us with nothing to enjoy but the sights and sounds of other bar patrons instead Helladope’s set. I didn’t mind too much, observing a crowd that came to watch a lineup of MC’s can be as entertaining as How I Met Your Mother.
To point out the obvious, you can’t have a hip-hop show without an audience. In the instance that it does happen, it’s like witnessing a fatal car accident. On the other hand, Rock n’ roll can survive in a cave, without food, water and someone to love. The energy of the band and music can exist on its own without any kind of fanfare or adoration. Compare the unsaid importance of a crowd at a hip-hop show in relation to that of an audience that goes to a venue to get down to some rock n’ roll and your talking about two drastically different worlds. It’s that connection between audience and performer that draws a wider variety of people to hip-hop shows than that of the rock persuasion. Currently, hip-hop is saying something that rock n roll is not. Even if an overwhelming majority of contemporary mainstream hip-hop isn’t saying anything of significance.
Just before Goodie Mob took the stage, my friend somehow managed to gain entry into venue. This is a perfect example of never giving up on your dreams kids. If you wait around long enough, you too might have the opportunity to attend a sold out show at Neuno’s when you don’t have a ticket. I can’t tell you how he did it, let’s just say Calgon (ancient Chinese secret).
Goodie Mob took the stage with all four members dressed in black from head-to-toe. You had to wonder if there was some symbolism to their fashion sense. Was this reunion tour really a funeral march of redemption for southern hip-hop? Goodie Mob was one of the pioneers at the forefront of the southern hip-hop movement. A genre that has since been hijacked by syrup sippin’ empty vessels called “artists”, backed by one-hit wonder krunk inducing club beats. We’re talking about hand-me-down imitators of DJ Screw and Shawty Redd, rappers with less staying power than Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. This is not what the people want and the Mob knows this.
With every song serving as a “Remember me?” bludgeoning overture, they made home fries out of would-be small potatoes MC’s. All your unwritten bars became a desolate grey wasteland of never-had, courtesy of the Goodie Mob’s blunt ashes. They tore through a set old favorites that occasionally featured an unexpected sample or two. “Get Rich to This” had a sample of the Eurhythmic’s “Sweet Dreams” that was seamlessly included into the song. “Cell Therapy” had the guitar intro from “Stairway to Heaven”. I’m sure the first thing that came to Jimmy Page’s mind when he wrote that riff was Big Gipp jumping around Neumo’s stage in a bulletproof vest. I didn’t think it was possible but “Goodie Bag” sounded more threatening and confrontational than it does on record. “Dirty South” highlighted the around my way storytelling that made rappers from the south so unique at a time when hip-hop was getting most of its attention in New York and Los Angeles. The crowd erupted when “Black Ice” started up, the only thing missing was the guest appearance from Outkast.
The Mob did a couple of songs from side projects that featured at least one member of the group. Cee-Lo performed the Gnarls Barkley (his project with DJ Danger Mouse) hit single “Crazy”. He also performed the song “Closet Freak” from his solo album Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections. Initially it was hard for me to embrace some of the projects that Cee-Lo was a part of. I would’ve rather heard new Goodie Mob tracks instead. However, his vocals are unyielding and so impressive in person; you have to appreciate the fact he ever decided to do rap in the first place. Goodie Mob also performed Outkast’s “Liberation” off of Aquemini. I was hoping by the time they got to the part of the song where Erykah Badu absolutely kills it, that Mrs. Badu would repel down from the rafters and blow everyone’s minds. “You can catch me in my too short drop/Mouth got colors like a fruit loop box…” Smile for me daddy. I completely forgot Big Gipp was on Nelly’s hit single “Grillz”, until I heard those eerie holiday chimes accompanied by the sinister artificial string section over the P.A. speakers.
Besides showcasing songs from other projects, the Goodie Mob had a tongue and cheek “rock n’ roll break” during their set. Snippets of the following songs were all blared over the loudspeaker at one point, Danzig’s “Mother,” Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I thought it was pretty hilarious. I guess they figured, “Hey, Seattle, flannel, grunge is still kind of around right?” Looking back on the break now, it was more a strategic move than anything else. One of the biggest problems with hip-hop acts is that they sometimes run out of gas by the end of the set. This was not the case with the Goodie Mob.
Like the prizefighters you knew they were, the Goodie Mob answered the bell until the final notes of “They Don’t Dance No Mo’”. In my faux old age, I’ve become skeptical of reunion tours because they often leave me heartbroken and disappointed. Goodie Mob’s performance will cause me to second guess my instincts the next time another one of my favorite acts reunites and comes rolling into town. And as they continue from one city to the next, I hope that the true spirit of southern hip-hop will rise again and lay waste to the ring tone rap that it unintentionally gave rise to.