Sunday, April 02, 2006

Common Opens the Basement

40 Acres Fest yesterday was pretty fun, though I only stayed at the booth portion of it for a couple of hours to help out my clubs' booths. I came back in the night to see Common though, and both people I was planning on seeing it with bailed on me, so I just went it alone because I was excited to see Common. Click to enlargeI came a few minutes before the opening act, Brownout, where a crowd was quickly starting to gather. I managed to get to a comfortable spot maybe thirty or forty feet from the stage, and Brownout was surprisingly good. Their music was very Latin inspired, but all instrumental. I would've taken more shots of them, but I wanted to save my battery life for Common (and I'm glad I did because I ran out during his encore). I didn't want to put up all my pictures from the night here and kill your browser, so I got an account with a site called Zoto. It was a runner up for one of those Web 2.0 awards I mentioned last week, and yet it offers tons more storage than Flickr and allows you to store the originals of pictures. You can see all the pictures from 40 Acres Fest over here, but if you really want to see them up close then just go to my Zoto site and search for "Common" or "40 Acres Fest" because I have them all tagged. Anyway, after that band we only had to wait 20 minutes for Common, and they actually played some real good music on the stereo in the meantime (Kanye West, Jimmy Eats World, Weezer, Mos Def, Jay-z/Linkin Park among others). Oh, and he kept mentioning "the basement," which I took to mean underground Hip Hop, hence the title.

His keyboard player, drummer, and DJ all came on stage before him of course, and after an unrecognizable introit we hear the beginning of "Be" and then he races on stage jumping so much that you'd think he had epilepsy or something. When you see that kind of energy, you know it's going to be a fun show. From that point on, the concert really didn't lose momentum. He followed up with "Go," and then "Faithful." What was cool here was that he freestyled a little bit and then just kind of talked over the beat to the crowd about being faithful and it was funny because he started to say how sometimes girls aren't always so great and aren't faithful themselves, and he said that makes him so mad that he has to "Testify." I explained that story because it shows how much effort he put into that transition, and he did that a few other times in the night, as well. How awesome is that? He did a lot more freestyling as well, a lot of which to the tune of Vince Young and Austin and Longhorns and such. He always kept the crowd responsive to him with calls and organized hand motions and singing and every technique he could possibly have used, I think. He did some old school rap homages, too (including some hip hop), and a few collaborations ("Get 'Em High" and "My Way Home", namely). What I loved about it is that he was trying to Click to enlargeentertain you more than just rap. For example, he brought a girl on stage from the audience and literally starting macking on her by wiping their sweat with the same towel and dancing with her to more and more seductive music (including some "Bump 'N Grind" to the audience's amusement). Then there was the crazy solo he had his DJ do, and he also tried his hand at breakdancing. Common obviously did more from Be (including "The Corner", "The Food", and "The Say") than his other albums, but he definitely hit on some of the old favorites (like "Resurrection" and "I Used to Love H.E.R."). Only someone dead inside wouldn't have been energized and inspired by this concert, especially when he did a whole extended version of "It's Your World" where he talked about how tragedy brings us closer to God and how we spread his love by helping those we don't know and that only we can change our worlds. If you haven't gotten the idea by now: I totally ripped off UT by getting this show for free because it was so awesome that I would've paid at least $40 or $50 to see the 90 minute set, plus the encore we got out of him. I can e-mail you the few videos I took if you drop me a line, but they're not a whole lot since I wasn't sure how big they'd be when I took them.

As you can tell, I had a pretty busy Saturday so I decided against doing any sort of April Fool's Joke, but wikipedians kept score of all the different pranks, and Google actually had a couple of good ones. One was a funny dating service, and another was some cleverly placed UFOs. What's not a joke is that CD sales actually dropped almost 10% last year from 2004, but digital music sales still held strong. I think that the rise of DRM awareness will hurt mp3 sales until the music industry can get its act together, but I personally still love CDs because of the high quality and hard, DRM-free (for now, at least) copy. In honor of Apple's 30th anniversary (and current lack of a press event, argh) Engadget put up a look at the good, bad, and ugly from their long line in computing. Thankfully, the ugly part is on the lower end of the spectrum, and it's a fun walk down memory lane for those of you who were old enough to remember those simpler (yeah, right) times. If you're a web designer, this article is a must-read because it goes through a lot of security tests you can put your site through to make sure that it's hack-proof on at least a basic level. One thing never changes in computers (just like in the legal system): there's always a loophole. If you're hunting for some software then stop by here first for a good roundup of some of the best freeware applications out there, several of which I personally use (including Audacity, Paint.NET, and Gaim). Lastly, Robert Cringely put up an article about Paul Allen only to end with something quite interesting: he believes that Microsoft's days are numbered, largely because of an Iowan lawyer who won't settle for any less than unconditional surrender, it would seem. I don't think that she'll be able to stop them for good, but I'm sure that she can tie them up in litigation for a good long while.

Now for some news you really won't believe: Ice Age 2 opened at #1 with an astonishing $70.5 million to clobber the March record and become the biggest opening weekend of the year. It got some alright reviews, but not enough to warrant them grossing almost their entire budget. Inside Man made less than a quarter of that at number two, and V for Vendetta sadly fell to number five. There are a couple of new trailers out there. One is an Internet exclusive for Clerks 2, complete with curse words, and it's the first time I've actually believed that this movie is going to be really funny. The other is a teaser for The Simpsons (exactly as described on Friday), but it's very short and the movie has over a year to go, so don't hold your breath. MiraJeff at AICN gave a great, detailed review of Hard Candy, but beware of spoilers four paragraphs in. I'm now really syked to see this movie because it sounds pretty crazy.

Now, as usual, some Unconscious Mutterings:

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Desire::Passion

  2. Sleep::Deprivation

  3. Lost::Television

  4. 2006::Year

  5. Pump::It (Louder)

  6. Space::Jam

  7. Stuck::Together

  8. Reference::Memory (as in computer RAM)

  9. Birth::day

  10. Hand::ful

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