To the throng that waited outside the Thunderdome at 6 p.m. to be let into the concert, I tip my hat and shake my head. The doors opened at 6:30 p.m., but Lupe Fiasco didn’t take the stage until around 10 p.m., leaving those who arrived early with roughly 3 1/2 hours of opening acts that were not the greatest.
Lupe-fest took a while to get underway, with each successive opening act seeming to be, and causing a good deal of hope that they were, the last, until the man himself took the stage and rocked the shit out of the half-full venue for an hour while a bunch of students magically conjured smoke from their fingers and danced in ways so special that they deserve their own paragraph. Which they will get. Later.
Lupe opened with a raucous rendition of “Kick Push.” He hopped around stage like a man possessed, perhaps trying to exorcise the demons of the substandard opening acts (with the exception, bizarrely, of the electro-rock trio Hey Champ that recently signed to Lupe Fiasco’s record label and put on an entertaining — if out of place — show).
The highlights of his show were unquestionably his two most recent hits: “Superstar” and “Go Go Gadget Flow,” both of which he took his sweet time leading in to in order to build crowd anticipation so that when the beat finally dropped in proper, the area in front of the stage was a mass of waving hands and shaking hips.
Although the crowd never expanded much past the sound booth at about mid-court on the Thunderdome floor, it more than made up for its lack of numbers with an enthusiasm rarely seen this far west, especially on a Monday night. In fact, the performance of the crowd was in some ways the most noteworthy part of the concert, as some pretty incredible dancing went on before and during the show.
Just before one of the openers arrived onstage, someone decked out in a red shirt and a red bandana danced in huge semicircle around the back of the sound booth in a manner that straddled the line between ironic and uncoordinated.
This was all very entertaining, until he made it almost all the way around the booth, at which point a man dressed in white stopped him and proceeded to dance in his face. This prompted a dance battle that was curtailed immediately by one of the many forgettable acts coming on.
That was pretty amazing, but nothing compared to the person who spontaneously started break dancing in the midst of Lupe’s set, which was pretty cool except that two other people (you read that right) then had a full-on break dance competition mid-concert at the back of the crowd.
As you can imagine, I was already overflowing with goofy dance happiness until the real star of the show burst forth like a flaming eagle.
To the man with the faux-hawk that did a dance incorporating the elements of crip walking, Riverdance, square dancing, full on double-fisted karaoke (down on one knee) and some interpretive dance during the encore (an excellent performance of “Daydreamin,'” including some singing by the very multitalented guitarist) I take my hat off, salute you and give you a gigantic air high five. Way to dance like there is nobody watching in a room full of people.
Although there were some pretty massive microphone issues throughout the show that inspired some bad feedback and Lupe’s improvised song about how you shouldn’t let sound issues get you down, he mostly worked through them flawlessly to deliver a performance that by itself was worth the price of admission.
Lupe’s energy never flagged throughout the show, and without a doubt, he brought it to a crowd of very enthusiastic university students that could not have been more happy to see him. Even without his great performance, the people in the crowd dancing were enough to make this show one for the ages.