Concert Review

The Game: Slower Than Baseball, the Excitement of Curling

Even to those of us who aren't huge proponents of mainstream rap, The Game's second album, Doctor's Advocate, was hugely influential a few years back. Advocate was a note-perfect throwback to gangsta rap's halcyon days of the early '90s and quite possibly the best mainstream rap album since, well, pretty much since everyone started making these distinctions between "mainstream/commercial" rap and "indie/underground" hip-hop in the first place.

So, worst-case scenario, you'd figure The Game had at least one genuinely great album of songs to draw from for his set Saturday night at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Then again, anyone who'd been to a few rap shows knows a letdown is always possible. One thing I didn't expect  though, was to be bored out of my fucking mind. Sadly, after the show finally ended at 11:45 p.m., I was stifling yawns as I made my way back to my car.

My friend and I got to the Celebrity about an hour before the show started. After removing everything from our pockets and being thoroughly frisked and wanded by security, we found some seats and waited for the show to start. Apparently, whoever was in charge of the house music didn't do their homework, because when noted Game nemesis 50 Cent's "What Up Gangsta" started playing over the PA system, the half-full venue erupted into a loud chorus of boos (incidentally, this is the first time that Shazam app for the iPhone has actually come in handy).

The crowd wasn't much kinder to the opening acts. Local artists Keez, Big Five Gang, and C-Thug were limited to approximately 10-minute sets, which were still about nine minutes too long, judging by the crowd's collective indifference. Up-and-coming L.A. rapper Nipsey Hussle also failed to energize the crowd during his 25-minute set. Hussle's bio describes him as " a devout member of the Rolling Sixty Crips," and his all-blue attire certainly reinforced that description, although several members of his crew wore predominantly red. Maybe they're finally taking that "We're All in the Same Gang" message to heart in South Central these days.

At 9:30, the host came out and announced that The Game would be on in 20 minutes. About 40 minutes later, the house lights finally went down, but we still had to sit through another half-hour of The Game's Black Wall Street cronies (including PHX rapper Juice) before the man himself finally hit the stage at 10:50 p.m. After his first song, it was clear that The Game was having some throat issues. His already gravelly delivery was even more raspy than normal, and he let the crowd finish plenty of lines throughout the night. About halfway through his set, The Game downed an entire bottle of what he claimed to be Smirnoff, much to the amusement of his entourage (which appeared to number in the high teens). The Game is either a really bad actor or has a liver made of granite, because he continued right along for another half-hour, hoarser than ever but without a single slurred word. After 55 minutes, The Game's set was over and we were treated to another barrage of plugs for the afterparty at one of Phoenix's seedier strip clubs. I saved a flier for it. It might be "flier of the week" material just for the hilarious fine print at the bottom.

Oh, yeah, and I'm pretty sure he played only one song from Doctor's Advocate. Weak.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: The Game at Celebrity Theatre.

Better Than: 50 Cent with a bottle of Chloraseptic.

Personal Bias: I fervently oppose snitchin.

Random Detail: The quote of the night goes to my girlfriend, who texted me: "How was Tipsy?"

Further Listening: I'm thinking some semi-obscure, old-school West Coast gangsta rap, like Penthouse Players Cliqu.

By the Way: What's with everyone asking around for weed? Doesn't anyone come prepared anymore?