Lil Wayne Very Late, Very Predictable at US Airways Center
Robert Brandon Martinez
Things I witnessed while waiting nearly two hours for Lil Wayne to perform at US Airways Center on Wednesday night:
- An impromptu routine by all of opener T-Pain's assortment of dancers, including two midgets, a fire-eating contortionist, two dudes with their faces painted like Juggalos and two of (what appeared to be) Gwen Stefani's former harajuku girls.
- T-Pain saying, "I'm gonna tell y'all the truth, promise y'all won't get mad.... The reason my fat ass is still up here is cuz Wayne is stuck in traffic." This was only 20 minutes in, when Pain and his performers were trying to stall long enough to avoid the inevitable awkward delay.
- Various tour personnel congregating on the side of the stage in an obvious way, talking and sharing information from their cell phones. Bad sign.
- Hearing the kid behind me, who had minutes earlier declared Young Jeezy's"My President is Black" to be "the new national anthem," saying aloud what we were all thinking: "There ain't no traffic at 9 o'clock."
- A DJ's increasingly slapdash list of categories offered up as reasons to make some noise: "If you got $5 in your pocket make some nooooooise!"
- After an hour of listening to a DJ, watching opener T-Pain come back on stage wearing pajamas and a scarf to dance, in a futile effort to quell the crowd.
- Being told by one DJ that Lil Wayne was "in the building" only to be told a few minutes later that he was "on his way" by another DJ.
- Seeing what happens when a DJ at a rap show literally runs out of hip-hop tracks to spin and turns to "Smells like Teen Spirit" and "Are You Gonna Go My Way."
- Watching someone wearing a baby-blue bear suit (the bear had braids like Lil Wayne) try to moonwalk, in a futile effort to entertain fans who had waited an hour and a half to see the headliner.
- Hearing a medley of DMX tracks dedicated to Phoenix because "this cat lives out here," even though the cat in question lives in a Maricopa County correctional facility and has vowed to leave the state for good as soon as he can.
- Hearing Lil Wayne booed, and chants of "this is bullshit" erupt when an hour and 45 minutes of downtime hit.
It was a looong night at US Airways, as the artist behind the bestselling album in the world last year, Lil Wayne, came to town. Who knows if he planned it this way, but the first line of his opener, "Mr. Carter," was painfully appropriate: "I hear you were looking for me?" Wayne claimed he was hassled at a checkpoint near the border, accounting for his tardiness. Not that the crowd cared much. Although they were booing and chanting before he took the stage, he appeared to be instantly forgiven when he finally appeared at 10:45, even though he's notorious for this sort of thing.
Wearing a black leather jacket, jeans, Chucks, and a chain wallet, Wayne looked as much like a rock star as a rapper. He even pulled out an electric guitar during his set to perform "Prostitute 2."
Most of the show was pure, predictable rap showmanship. Highlights included "Got Money" -- in which T-Pain, wearing Homer Simpson pajamas and riding a Segway with dice hanging from the handlebars, joined in -- and "A Milli," in which Weezy aimed a flame-throwing cannon at the crowd. The other tracks from his smash Tha Carter III were all played ("La La," "Mrs. Officer," "Phone Home"). Unsurprisingly, "Lollipop," played at the beginning of the encore, got the biggest reaction of the night, the crowd going wild for Wayne and his neon-wearing backup dancers, one of whom worked a pole like a pro. It wasn't a bad performance, in the end, but it sure was a late one.
Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if, like T-Pain, I'd been able to watch it in my pajamas.
Last Night: Lil Wayne at U.S. Airways Arena
Better Than: Waiting for Miniature Tigers to go on last Wednesday. We could sit down, at least, and Weezy's late start was still better than their 12:57 a.m. opening chords.
Personal Bias: I like Lil Wayne, but I hate poorly run shows. I understand Wayne gets hassled at checkpoints -- why wouldn't he, considering what they allegedly found in his bus last time? -- but knowing that, maybe he should plan to get his ass here early.
Random Detail: T-Pain does a hell of a moonwalk for a big man. He should, however, put the full version of "I'm in Love with a Stripper" back in his set.
Further Listening: I cannot imagine listening to anything related, in any way, to Lil Wayne for a couple of weeks after this.
By the Way: Shout out to Kirsten and Alia, who kept my friend Grant and I entertained during the break.
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