Wednesday, February 07, 2007
NOT AGAIN...CAGE IN TEXAS...
So Angry Tim and I venture down to the GetDown this weekend to visit Rory and, more importantly, go see Cage play at Haileys in Denton. Last time we went to see Cage, Dallas managed to scrape together about, uh, 17 people to see him play. I was assuring Tim that Denton can always pull together a better audience. It's just a fact. The word of shows has better penetration because word of mouth is a powerful thing in a smaller community. Not only that, it's a fairly liberal university in Denton and they like to watch live music. Fantastic. Shouldn't be any problem, right?
Well, the line as the doors open would be encouraging. I mean, there was actually a line. But after that initial rush, the heads just stopped coming in. I think we topped out at somewhere around 50 people, but not one over that. I find a place to sit down and entertain the guests who, before the show even starts, began squirming. I knew I had a tall order ahead of me trying to keep Angry Tim's wife and Rory's wife entertained until the show started. But I also knew that when Cage came on, this show would roll all the way to a fantastic finish.
The opening act (who coincidently played Dallas last time Cage pulled through) were actually better the first time I saw them. Nobody knew the words to their songs because, well, they ain't even scanned but about 1,700 units. Not only do they not know your material, but at 1,700 sold, they don't even know your name.
Then, Cage finally makes it out (at which point my Roaming Homie Wil makes an appearance) so I'm at a split attention. Not only that, I have some street-teamer (see also POSTER HANGER or ANNOYANCE) barking in my ear about how he's hoping to get signed to Definitive Jux. I ask him if he has any material and he gives me the standard response, "I gave all my copies out already." I'm sure, if that was true, I could search the trashcans and find a copy.
Cage comes out and you can tell he's in a different spirit tonight than the last time I saw him. He's visibly annoyed and, while I can definitely empathize with life on the road, these folks came to see a show. You at the very least need to make it more entertaining than just listening to the record at home.
He barely did that. In fact, I'd say he didn't achieve that if he didn't headbutt that silly street-teamer smack in the forehead during his set. And when the highlight of the show is watching a girl volunteer to get clocked by a "cupcake girl," you're gonna have a hard time telling your buddy back home what he missed. Nonetheless, I blew up Danny's cell during "Too Heavy for Cherubs."
There's two parts to why this didn't work out.
Firstly, Cage's expectations of the Denton experience was simply too high. I'm convinced there's nothing we could have done that night to make him adjust and put on a killer performance. He ended his set in a back-and-forth during a section of "Agent Orange," and when the cats on the front row didn't land the lyrics, he said, "Close enough," dropped the mic and walked off.
Cage has sold only 19,000 of his last record in about 18 months. Not everyone is going to be able to rap along. Danny might. Angry Tim might. Even I might, but then even though I can doesn't mean I will. Just do your act, man. But getting pissed off because 50 kids in Denton don't know every word of your material is played. I respect Cage, love his material and, despite his poor showing this time through, I'm still going to turn kids onto him because I believe in the music he makes. But, be that as it may, I don't wanna feel like I'm trouble at one of his shows.
Secondly, the show failed because hip hop fans don't show up at shows. It's culture fans that show up at shows. Especially in Denton. They gravitate towards a culture and not the artist. They like music when it's convenient to, but they ain't going out and buying the material on a day-in, day-out basis. I'll get more into this phenomenon later because it's quite prevalent in hip hop, but in short, if the beat's loud enough, they're gonna enjoy it. You don't have the active listener in Denton. That's not to say that they can't get down, but they're purely reflective of the artist's energy. You put on a bad set, they stand there with their hands in their pockets wondering why they're there. You put on a hyped set, they're gonna crowdsurf. When Cage walked off, they turned around to the door like, "Cool, anyone up for Arby's?"
Alright, folks. I gotta get to work. Support your local hip hop artists. It's bad enough that the labels treat 'em like garbage. They don't need it from their listeners too. Show up to the shows. Show gratitude. If you see Cage, take Wil's advice, just give the dude a hug. If you want a good rock album, pick up Locksley's Don't Make Me Wait. I don't recommend rock albums very often, so listen up. Do the Antoine shimmy and be glad you're a not a Boston Celtic.