Wyclef Jean played Showbox at the Market on Monday, July 21.
Even though I haven't been that into anything Wyclef's put out recently (I mean...The Carnival II doesn't even begin to compare to the first one, which is now, uh, 11 years old...damn), I've been listening to Wyclef since I was 8 (as a member of the Fugees), but I'd never managed to see him live. So I felt compelled to go, negative previews from other publications be damned. And even though I was worried that Wyclef would be a total prick and ruin all the childhood adoration I had stored up for him, I've gotta say: the guy put on an excellent, high-energy show, AND he did a lot of his older songs, including a couple of Fugees numbers like "Ready Or Not" and "No Woman, No Cry." I was disappointed that he didn't do any of my favorite jams off The Preachers' Son, but you can't have it all, I guess. And shit-- he played his guitar behind his back and with his tongue as well. The man knows his way around the instrument.
Best of all, Miss Erika Hobart and I managed to make it onstage to dance to the "Stripper Song" (oh, how appropriate. But never fear, no clothing was removed. We have, you know, some class.) Although I found it creepy that some of the chicks onstage were trying to feel up Wyclef while he was trying to, you know, sing. It was good enough for me to be within a few inches of the guy; no need for molestation. But I can also understand how one might be tempted. He's a good-lookin' dude.Whether I would have shelled out forty Washingtons for that, though, is another story. Twenty or twenty-five, maybe. But what with all the people ripping music off the Interweb, I suppose performers have to make their money somehow. And I imagine that at least some of the dough everyone else shelled out will go to Yele Haiti, which is an argument in favor of a steep cover charge. Plus, the big advantage of hefty door fees is that anyone who would pay forty bucks to see an artist obviously loves the music and really wants to be there, and last night's crowd absolutely reflected that. Everyone sings along, and you develop that sort of instant camaraderie from your shared love of the music. During "No Woman, No Cry," a total stranger, even, like, HUGGED me as we were singing together. You never get that at a $5 show where someone's sizing up a new band, and those are the shows I usually attend, so it was nice to be in an atmosphere where people are less self-aware and are simply excited to see an artist they've loved for a long time in the flesh.
On the openers...
Kardinal Offishal was sort of fun, and I had no idea it was they who were responsible for that "Dangerous" song with Akon (whose music I mostly loathe). For reggaeton, it was all right, but I never really managed to get on that particular train, so perhaps I'm not the best person to discuss it. Everyone else seemed to dig it, though.
What I found most interesting, however, were the hip hop crew from Minneapolis, Just Life, because even though I couldn't really understand the emcees very well, and what I could understand of the rhymes seemed sort of generic, they still managed to draw a fairly sizable crowd while the rest of us were busy boozing away as to be thoroughly sauced for 'Clef. It was their first Seattle show, and I hope that next time they come around, they manage to make themselves clearer to the crowd. I really liked their gold jackets and pelvic thrusting, though. Nothing like an accomplished pelvic thrust to kick off an evening.