Talib Kweli, Club Red, 7/21/12

Talib Kweli Club Red Saturday, July 21

There is only one word to properly describe Talib Kweli's performance at Club Red in Tempe: endurance.

Those who crammed into the club had to handle less than ideal weather conditions, soaring humidity in the venue, and ongoing technical difficulties.

Opening the show was El JayBeats and The Bakers, which consisted of no less than nine guys on the stage. It became messy and convoluted as the set went on, making it impossible to discern one song from another. People were still waiting in line out in the rain during much of it, which was probably a better place to be. The crowd was hardly enthusiastic about the performance, and it seemed to last way longer than desired.

Chandler-based hip-hop/rocker G-Owens took the stage, complete with guitar, keyboard, bass, and cello. The band seemed to be just what the crowd needed, playing songs like "Aviator" and "George Washington". The performance, although motivating, was not without sound problems, with ear-piercing feedback and random fits of static interrupting the excellent performance, a theme that would continue with every other performer throughout the evening. G-Owen soldiered on though, delivering a satisfying set.

The award for strangest performance of the evening goes to Bobby BrandNew, who was accompanied by a Mr. T lookalike, complete with gold chains. BBN's fusion of hip-hop and hard rock would have worked without the gimmick, as the accompanying guitar really cemented the performance. It was just impossible to take him seriously with B.A. Baracus standing next to him, who at any moment could have started rapping about "pitying a fool".

People took the opportunity to head back to the bar for a refill during A.D.D.'s performance, whose stale chrome-and-chronic lyrics did nothing to energize the quickly exhausting crowd. As if temperature and weather weren't enough, the crowd was forced to endure a 40-minute wait before Talib Kweli took the stage at exactly midnight.

Kweli ripped into an homage to The Beastie Boys with his rendition of "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," in tribute to Adam Yauch. He moved through crowd favorites like "Palookas" and "Hot Thing" before surprising the remaining audience with "Lonely People," which interpolates lyrics from The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby."

Technical difficulties plagued Kweli, through "Strangers"(sans Hi-Tek) and "Re:Definition" (minus Mos Def). Kweli's lyrical genius was obvious during "Wait for You." The show finally wrapped at 1:15 a.m. with "Just to Get By", arguably Kweli's most well known song. Those who were looking for an encore were left disappointed as the club quickly cleared out, allowing everyone some much needed cool night air.

Despite the conditions of the five-hour-show, the audience couldn't get enough of Talib Kweli and the hours spent waiting were worth it.

Approximate Set List:

Talib Kweli

"No Sleep Till Brooklyn" "I'm On One" "Cold Rain" "Palookas" "The Blast" "Hot Thing" "Lonely People" "Strangers" "Re:Definition" "Wait for You" "Just to Get By"

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Talib Kweli at Club Red

The Crowd: A Mix of Everyone

Random Notebook Dump: "This thing might get busy."

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Richard Noel
Contact: Richard Noel