Concert Review

Q-Tip's Do-Over Kills Momentum at Marquee

See more shots in our 2K Sports Bounce Tour slide show.

By Martin Cizmar

Q-Tip is a perfectionist. Or so he said Monday night as he derailed his show one song in, taking a five-minute interlude to adjust the sound. “Any of ya’ll bloggers out there? Any bloggers?” he asked. “So when you blog about this, just be a little gracious.”

I’m trying my best to do as Q asked. Yet, with all generosity and graciousness of heart, I must admit that was the moment the former A Tribe Called Quest leader lost me. Even with a crowd going off like you’ll rarely see at a Valley hip-hop show during Tribe’s “Award Tour,” I couldn’t get back in to it. This is not all Q’s fault; the entire evening (doors at 6:30, house lights at 12:20) was plagued with little momentum-killers. What should have been an amazing three or four hours of music and gaming, as the 2K Sports Bounce Tour came to the Marquee, instead turned into a real slog.

The night looked promising: Q-Tip, who was a key figure in the Native Tongues Posse (De La Soul, Mos Def, Jungle Brothers and Talib Kweli, big influence on the Roots and their Soulquarian collective) along with up-and-coming hipster rap acts The Cool Kids and The Knux.

Taking stage in black leather jackets and tight black jeans, Bobby Seale style, The Knux quickly showed they had substance over their throwback style. Delivering "Bang! Bang!" and "Cappuccino" in a tight set, they kept the audience bouncing and laughing with great banter between songs (on the attractiveness of Arizona women: “I’m about to move out here, be like DMX, smoking crack in the desert.”) They closed things out with a rap over House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” which my friend Abby accurately described as “the most foolproof beat of all time.”

Between sets there was a surprising lack of entertainment, considering the attention spans of video-game obsessed hip-hop heads. Beyond a few kiosks outfitted with TVs and NBA 2K9, there was little to keep people entertained through unnecessarily long breaks between sets. Instead of having a DJ spin – and there plenty of good ones in the house, including one of the best of all time, DJ Scratch, who nearly stole the show from Q-Tip – they just popped in a CD and let the crowd chill. The promotions were pretty shoddy, too, considering the tour was put together by a game company. All they did was hurl a few t-shirts in to the crowd. Why not have some kids on stage facing off on the game for glamorous prizes?

Anyway, the Cool Kids also impressed. The 80s obsessed Midwestern duo – and judging by the throwback sneakers, shirts and jackets on display in the crowd, they weren’t the only ones – sounded great on “What Up Man,” which features some of the simplest beats you’ll ever hear in a contemporary rap song and the similarly thrown-back “Gold and a Pager” (as in why Ice Cube, a teenager, is fucked with, the cops searching his car, looking for the product, thinking he’s selling narcotics).

After what seemed like an interminable break between sets given that the other acts all had only a DJ backing them (and, we would later learn, the poor results of whatever they did, given the break) Q-Tip took the stage, starting solid before the long sound break to adjust the sound. A lot of songs had a jazzy feel, with Q’s super smooth, almost falsetto voice matched well. “We Fight/We Love,” off his new record, The Renaissance, and the classic single “Vivrant Thing” were highlights but the show never got momentum for me. Q closed things out with a long ass jammed out version of “Gettin’ Up” and, in the ultimate frustration for me, skipped his greatest song “Breath and Stop.”

I didn’t mind too much, by that point I was just ready for it to be over.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: 2K Sports Bounce Tour with Q-Tip, The Knux and The Cool Kids at The Marquee on Nov. 17.

Better Than: I don’t know what it was better than, but it may well have been longer than any show Phish ever played.

Personal Bias: When I learned that De La Soul was not actually dead – just clever with their album titles – I was very disappointed.

Random Detail: The Cool Kids and The Knux both had some great old school fashion going, but for my money the look of the night belonged to the dude who’d modified his vintage polyester bomber jacket from “Bucks” (as in Milwaukee) to “Buck$.” Nice.

Further Listening: Listen again to the brilliance of The Cool Kids’ “88” and The Knux’s “Bang Bang.”

By the Way: No “Breath and Stop?” Seriously, Q?

Photos by Luke Howerda