[Note: I’ve always wondered if you can really review a show over a week after having seen it…well, tonight, we shall see].
A Music Review: The Date: Thursday, 3/29/07
The Time: Doors Open 8pm
The Place: The Middle East, Downstairs: Central Square, Cambridge, MA
The Show: The Jedi Mind Tricks, also Sean Price, and Reef the Lost Cause
The Middle East is a cool little club located in Central Square, Cambridge. Central Square ain’ t the nicest of places….my friend said he saw someone smoking crack on a bench in broad daylight a few months ago. Don’t know if I believe him or not…..but let’s just say its not totally out of the question. Despite its often intimidating aura, its loaded with cool restaurants, cool bars, and smart people (M.I.T.’s right down the road).
The club itself is Cool with a capital ‘C’ (in case you didn’t notice). There are several different aspects to the club: The Downstairs, where most of the big time shows are; Upstairs, a smaller venue for smaller shows; and the restaurant, which is directly above Downstairs (I’m not sure where Upstairs is). They often have live belly-dancers perform during the week. The restaurant, as you may have guessed, serves Middle Eastern Cuisine.
Arriving at the restaurant at around 7:30, I met up with a couple of friends to grab a bite before the show. Being half-Aremenian, I feel I can be somewhat of a critic here, so I’ll give it a whirl:
“The hummus, baba ghanoush, and tabouli all had distinctive lemon tastes, which was not nesseccarily a bad thing. The pita bread was fresh (although not the freshest), and we were kept in ample supply by our friendly waitress. Phantom especially liked the Falafel Sandwich that he ordered, which, for only 5 dollars, was a deal. The atmosphere was nice: Phantom liked that the lights were turned down, and enjoyed the views of people outside from the window. He was not, however, impressed with the bathroom, which was a unisex toilet that could have been a little more inviting (although, clean nontheless).
The Phantom Gourmet gives the Middle East a total score of: 78 points.”
(Cue shitty jazz music).
[The above was an inside joke for those who watch The Phantom Gourmet, a local Boston/New England restaurant TV show. Sorry….I HATE INSIDE JOKES].
Anyway, after grabbing some grub, we headed out into the chilly conditions (cold and windy, yo!) to get in line. Cause, you know, it was 8:30, and doors opened at 8, and since these shows always start late, that was plenty early to go downstairs and get a good spot.
Plenty early indeed: upon entering, we saw a sign that read: “Sean Price: 11pm/ Jedi Mind Tricks:12am.” That meant two things: it was gonna be a late night….and a shitty morning at work.
After hanging out at the bar for about an hour, the first act came out: this was the act, before the act, before the act (note: I’m paying homage to great line from a very early David Mamet movie called “Things Change,” when a young William H. Macy, playing a limo driver for the Mob, is told that the man he is driving is “The guy, behind the guy, behind the guy.” Great movie.). Anyway, the first first first act usually is good at one thing: sucking. And they sucked it up pretty well, I’ve gotta say. Luckily, they were only out there for about five minutes. The time at this point: about 10:15.
At about 10:30, the first real act came out, even though he wasn’t listed on the bill: Reef the Lost Cauze. And let me tell you: Reef was the man. He put on a great show that lasted about half an hour, and he was genuinely good. At one point he decided to show off his singing skills and bust out a little Marvin Gaye. He’s based out of Philly. If you want to learn more about Reef, check out his Wikipedia site. The guys I was with bought one of his CDs.
At this point, I’m gonna stop the music review momentarily to talk about the crowd.
The crowd, was, well, how do I put it….a little on the rough side. First of all, the guy-to-girl ratio was about 10-1. (Interestingly, almost every girl there was HOT. Even more interestingly, this same exact thing happened at the Paradise Rock Club in Allston last spring, when I went with a couple people to see GZA. The place was packed with thugs…..and sprinkled through the crowd, absolutely gorgeous girls. Not sure if this is some kind of strange phenomena.) By the time Reef’s show was ending, the place was really filling up.
For those who have never been downstairs at the Middle East, it’s more than cozy….it’s closet-like. Don’t get me wrong…..I love this place, its probably my favorite club in Boston. But when you get this many scary dudes into a crammed place like this at once, and add alchohol….well, things tend to get interesting. And interesting they got: a few highlights.
Three fights broke out…all involving the same dude (I’ll get to him.)
A couple guys came up onto the platform we were standing on at about 11pm: one was about 400 lbs, the other about 600 lbs. The 600 lb guy, who looked a little like Fat Joe (a rapper), looked around and yelled, “Where all the bitches at?……its all dicks up here.” His boy was like “They over there.”
To which Fake Fat Joe was like “Oh”, and meandered over to some ladies. (Note: I was pretty terrified of these dudes. I can’t imagine if I was a 120 lb girl in a tank top.)
But the highlight of the night: meeting local hip-hop sensation Esoteric. For those who don’t know, Esoteric, along with his dj 7L, have produced several worthwhile albums, and got there start in Boston. I have one of there albums on my iTunes….honestly, I really liked them, but wouldn’t have been able to pick either out of a crowd.
Well, it turns out Esoteric was hanging out backstage…and decided to come out to the crowd to hang out. He came over to the bar where we were hanging out, grabbed a drink, and started talking to my buddy. (Note: it may sound really stupid, but I’m actually not really good at talking to people like this. I can pretty much talk to anyone….famous people, normal people, whatever. But if its someone who’s written something that I’ve found meaningful….well, I end up bubbling stupid shit like a baby. For example, if I met Slug, who in my opinion is one of the deepest, most intellectual hip-hop artists out there, I’d probably sit there smiling and nodding at everything he said. I’m kind of like a sixteen year old girl that way.)
Well, he introduced himself, and we all kind of hung out for a few minutes. Ofcourse, he had people coming up to him every few seconds, asking him things like “Are you gonna go up onstage tonight?” (To this, he answered, “Nah, I’m too shitfaced.”) But honestly….he was a really, really good guy. I would have never picked him out to be a hip-hop star….he was just a regular guy shitting around with us. He even recommended which Reef CD to buy when my friend couldn’t choose.
About half-way through his hanging out with us, something really funny, really strange, and really shocking happened. Some random girl came up to him and was having a conversation with him….neither me nor my friend were really watching or paying attention that much. But out of the corner of our eyes, we both saw the same thing: in mid-conversation, the girl made a very obsene sexual gestures to Esoteric, blatantly suggesting they do something do something together. Now, I won’t go into details here for fear of embarrassment (uh-oh…I’m blushing), but lets just say, in all my days, I’ve never seen a girl make this gesture during a conversation (I’m sure Esoteric probably has).
Anyway, she left a few minutes later, and my friend asked him why he didn’t pursue the situation any further.
“Ahh, man, I can’t do that shit, I’m getting married in June.”
Esoteric, folks…..an A-Okay guy!
Anyway, getting back to the music……Sean Price was scheduled to come out at 11:00. Who’s Sean Price, you ask? Well, I didn’t know much about him either, but my friend knew about him and liked him: he knew a couple of his songs. Hey…that’s good enough for me.
But Price didn’t get off to a good start….even before his show started, he was making all the wrong moves. At about 11:15 pm, there was still no Price to be found. People started getting a little restless. Finally, there was a voice above the crowd.
“Everybody…..SEAN PRICE IS NOT IN THE BUILDING. HE IS NOT HERE. IN THE MEANTIME, GO GET ANOTHER DRINK….HANG OUT.”
Yah….that wasn’t exactly what everyone wanted to hear. The already restless, slightly dangerous crowd started getting a little riled up. When the kid with the mike came back out, someone threw something at him. To which he replied into the mike, “GO GET A F**KING DRINK!”
That was answered with a big “F**K YOU!” from the crowd, and the kid quickly scurried to safety. It was at this point that the first fight broke out….involving the token “Raging Bull” of the crowd. This kid had a huge jacket on that was gold in color….and pretty much was looking to fight everyone. First he was in a fight down by the stage….then later, he was in a fight near the bar, and I overheard most of it (this wasn’t really a fight….it was an “almost fight”, often just as entertaining). Someone had accidentally spilled a drink on this rumbling tough guy (very easy to do in the crowd), and said tough guy decided to take matters into his own hands.
Getting the attention of the spiller: “Hey Mutherf**ka!”
At this point more dialouge came, but I couldn’t make out words over the crowd. But I could tell it was getting a little heated. The spiller (who seemed a tad bit nervous, seeing as he was surrounded by all of Tough Guy’s friends), said something along the lines of “I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry.”
To which I heard the distinct words “I’ll knock your f**king face off! You spilled on my jeans!”
Well, that got settled (somehow) without fists….only to lead to another fight involving this guy about ten minutes later. He bumped into myself and one of my friends later on….I let him do his thing, not really wanting to have to get into a fist fight on a darkened dance floor.
Back to the music….at about 11:30, Sean Price finally made out to the stage. The only problem….he sucked. Not one of the better live performances. I found myself watching the first two songs….then meandering back to the bar to hang out. About a half an hour in, we were all pretty bored, yawning up a storm. His show consisted of the following: songs that sounded the same; fake gunshots (seriously); his boys running around with video cameras, capturing the action; and random shouts of “SEAN P….JESUS PRICE SUPERSTAR!” In case you’re wondering…..yah, it sucked as bad as it looked. Finally, his freaking show ended (Note: I was at a party the next night with someone who works in the hip-hop business down in NYC. I told her about the Price show, to which she answered, “Yah, he’s not good live.” Well…good to know).
By this time, it was 12:15 am on a work morning…luckily, they didn’t waste any time getting the main show out, The Jedi Mind Tricks. Honestly….I own one of their albums, but don’t know much about them. What I do know now….they put on a great show. Non-stop, for an hour straight, they pumped out songs….I give their performance a solid A. Here’s my complimentary link to their Wikipedia sight (sorry….I’m getting tired and lazy.)
To make a long story short….at 1:30am, the show ended. I left the club (my friends left earlier), headed out to my car, and jogged to my car for about 20 minutes. Sorry I’m wrapping this entry up abrubtly…all of the sudden, my ass is very, very tired.
Until Next Time,