photography by Aylin Zafar
With the god-awful summer temperatures finally cooling down and Electric Zoo officially wrapping up the summer music festival season, there’s no denying that fall and real life is back in full swing. We have some treats to help tide you over, though–pictures and a bit of a review (albeit a little late) from the last stop of the Rock the Bells 2010 tour in DC.
Be warned: We weren’t able to catch URB favorites Yelawolf and others at the Paid Dues stage, arriving just after KRS-One had left the stage (though from what we hear, that may have been for the best).
To call the final RTB show (8/29) at the Merriweather Post Pavillion an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement. Up until the final hour were worries about the show being shut down due to the city’s 11 p.m. curfew, with festival-goers caught in a limbo of “will-she/won’t-he perform?” anxiety.
By now, news of Lauryn Hill’s three hour delay in taking the stage has made its rounds around the interwebs and you can read all about it in full detail here. The gist: Yes, Ms. Hill was late. How late? Oh, about three hours. Are you surprised? Our beloved queen has been stringing us along during the whole ride of this tour, however. We first reported an exclusive scoop of her inclusion in the RTB tour back in May, however her name was MIA once the official reveal of the lineup was made public. Later, she was back on the bill. Naturally, the best way to approach the idea of seeing Lauryn Hill was to not expect to see her at all.
But how could you keep from getting excited by the prospect of seeing the woman who taught you how to pine away in love, how to navigate heartbreak, how to demand respect, and essentially shaping a part of you and your relationship to music? She’d shown up to the other three dates, so fans were hopeful that the tour would finish out strong.
The #rockthebells Twitter feed actively covered the ups and downs and teases of the headlining sets–so we think it’s best to take a look through and let them speak for the event itself. But let this be said regarding Ms. Hill’s performance: while she was no doubt unprofessional and many complained of her new, sped-up arrangements of classic songs, we thought it was a great first step back to the spotlight.
[see the full gallery of photos HERE]
The rest of the headlining acts were untouchable in their own right—Tribe picked up the crowd and raised spirits after a 2-hour lull in the mainstage lineup. Always the highest example of an incredible live show, they were joined later by Busta Rhymes, driving the crowd into some much-needed hysterics post-Lauryn disaster (prior to her surprise appearance). Wu-Tang’s set was surprisingly sentimental—with Inspectah Deck revealing that his mother had passed three hours prior. RZA reached out to lend his arm to Deck in an embrace that was just a nod to how far the group has come. All six personalities, larger than life, on stage together— with Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son, no less—genuinely just having a great time and enjoying each other’s company. The guys could have been rapping alone together in a basement or a garage and still would’ve had a blast—the chemistry between them is that palpable. Snoop brought his Cali-cool to the stage, along with some friends and a couple 40s, too. A fellow writer commented that it’s funny to think that at one time Snoop was seen as a menacing figure in mainstream media, a leader in that “gangsta rap” music that was taking over youth’s record players and Walkmen in the early 90s. Now Snoop is the beloved Uncle in hip hop, a culture unto himself and a mainstay in our public consciousness forever; but also, a devoted father who coaches his son’s soccer team and lives in Long Beach. Fans at RTB DC worried about Snoop failing to appear during a long delay in his set, as rumors of him being in Brooklyn hours prior to the show were circulating on Twitter. But in the end everyone showed up and the festival ended up being a celebration of the Golden-Era hip hop and a tribute to the album format, just as intended.