Friday, July 25, 2008

He's jus a Rascal

So, some friends and I set out early at 9:00 to go see Dizzee Rascal at Cervantes last Tuesday - we didn't wanna miss anything since there was no opener listed. Figured with me off on Wednesday this was an ideal situation to let loose a little and enjoy a great show. Inside it was kinda sad with maybe about 30 people in the venue. But it was early. And even so, there were probably four times as many people there at 9:00 when he played here in 2005. A sad state, yes, but maybe it was gonna pick up with a lot of late walkup biz.

We had drinks as it crept past 10:00, and then 11:00 rolls around and it's starting to look bad - only 50 or 60 folks total and still nobody on stage. Some DJ comes on starts playing reggae, segues into hip-hop and then starts playing dance stuff that's pretty far from what anybody is there for - but it got our attention, got people on the floor and listening. Around 11:45, an announcer abruptly comes on the PA system and announces that the show's cancelled and the crowd can get refunds at the door. Weird. What happened?

Bartenders and staff are pissed, claiming Dizzee refused to take payment from them in check form while crowd largely seems to assume that Dizzee doesn't want to play to an empty house. So what gives? To me it seems that the responsible thing to do is to go out and play, not to let the business side of things interfere with and punish your audience who did come out to support and who did pay to see you. If Diz didn't want to play to an empty house, he needs to just grow the fuck up - his songs are often about maturing past what his friends from his 'hood are doing. Well, if you really want to be taken seriously as an adult, behave like one. I don't have a lot of respect for the artist who allows that stuff to show through in their gig - yelling at soundmen, stopping songs because the crowd's too loud during the ballad, complaining to the audience about your monitors - that sort of thing is unprofessional and selfish. But to never take the stage when you're actually at the venue already? Really bad behavior. Worse than a no-show even.

Dizzee, if you didn't want to play to a small crowd, if you weren't willing to just come out and do your best even under mediocre circumstances, that's sad. If you used an excuse that you wouldn't take a check, it's also sad. If the contract specified cash or whatever, there shouldn't have been a check waiting for the artist - a contract's a conract - and if so, shame on Cervantes for it. If no such specification was made, it's again on Dizzee and again just sounds lame as can be.

I'm glad that I had good company to hang out with. I'm glad that a DJ at least came on to entertain folks while these sorry negotiations took place backstage. Wish he'd have been more in touch with what the crowd was there for, but it was a shitty gig to be thrown into so I feel for him. But next time Dizzee comes to town - and now it's dawning on me that the last time he came here (and played for the same club owner!) was only after at least two other gigs had been announced and cancelled (though both with some advance notice) - I'm gonna have to think twice about planning a night around it.

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