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June 10, 2010


Should I go to Rock the Bells?

Snoop Dogg on stage

The lineup for this year's Rock the Bells show just got announced, and they're doing things a little differently this year: all the big performers will be performing one of their classic albums in its entirety. Because of my ambivalence about big all-day outdoor music festivals, which has developed over the years into full-blown revulsion, I've never attended any of the Rock the Bells shows that have come to the east coast. But this year, I'm thinking about putting aside my aversion to standing around all day in a crowded field with no shade and $4 bottles of water for the chance to see some awesome performers. Maybe. At least this year it's at Governor's Island, which is a big step up from Jones Beach where it's been for the past 2 years.

Let's look at the lineup:

  • Snoop, doing "Doggystyle". Even with an impenetrable cloud of smoke around his head and swarms of Dogg Pound members wandering all over the place, this should still be great. Snoop has that combination of laid-back smoothness and tight precision that I love. He's the chillest rapper out there who enunciates. Plus: good old Michael McDonald sampling Warren G.
  • Tribe. Yes! Doing "Midnight Marauders". Huh? When you've got one of the greatest albums of all time, "The Low End Theory", under your belt, plus a fun debut album that didn't do as well commercially but is full of classics, why would you go with the OK but not as good third album? I love Tribe, but the album selection is a missed opportunity.
  • Wu-Tang Clan, doing "36 Chambers". Rock the Bells has always had strong Wu representation, and at first I thought I've got to see it. But when you think about it, ODB's gone, lots of the original members are more into doing their own projects these days, and it's entirely possible that only 2 or 3 original members will show up (Method Man and Raekwon, probably, hopefully RZA?) along with about 37 other random dudes who just hang around on stage. The year to see them was probably the first Rock the Bells in 2004 when ODB was still alive. This one could be transcendent and amazing or sort of a let-down.
  • Rakim doing "Paid in Full". Awesome.
  • KRS-One, Slick Rick, DJ Premier, all sound pretty good. Premier is allegedly doing a tribute to Gang Starr, which is ironic since right before Guru's death last year, he allegedly denounced Premier and said he didn't want him to be involved in any tributes. I guess it's Premier's show now. There are lots of smaller acts like Brother Ali and Clipse that look good.
  • Then there's a special performance by Lauryn Hill. Excuse me, "Empress" Hill. I don't know what she's doing here. It seems like she never recovered from the massive success of the "Miseducation" album, and remember her MTV Unplugged session from 2002 where she was completely unstable and started crying? Her behavior since then has been erratic and she seems to flake out of shows a lot of the time. It's a strike against the festival.

Just found out tickets are $99. To stand around all day and deal with long lines and sweaty 6' 3" guys who stand right in front of me in order to listen to a raspy Lauryn Hill while waiting for the good stuff.

Sitting on the couch and listening to "The Low End Theory" doesn't sound half bad.

categories: Music, NYC
posted by amy at 12:03 PM | #

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