A few months ago, a law clerk in St. Louis mentioned to Caroline that he’s a member of a rap group. He invited her to a concert, and she didn’t end up going that time. Last week, she ran into him again and learned that he and his group were putting on another rap concert. He gave her a few free passes and some drink tickets, and we were good to go.
Okay, so what do you think when you think about the crowd at a rap concert? If you’re not picturing a large group of African American men and women, well done. You’re have fewer stereotypes to overcome than me. But I’m being honest here, and that’s what I thought I was getting into. Not that it was a bad scenario to get into. But I was a little amused that a little white guy like me would be in the middle of a sea of black people. I was prepared to be the token white guy who had no idea what he was doing at a rap concert.
So I put on my “Pour Out a 40 for 40” t-shirt (I thought this might help me assimilate), and head out the door with Caroline. We drive to this place in south county called Cruisin’ 66. I think I commented to Caroline, “Seems like an odd name for a rap concert venue.” But what do I know?
We walk in the doors, and immediately I realize that I have grossly misjudged and stereotyped the type of people who would be present that night. It was kind a of a dive bar, a big dive bar, with a mix of scraggly white dudes, women with ill-advised tattoos and jean skirts, and the occasional minority.
We found Caroline’s clerk friend, who chatted with us for a while before going on stage (another assumption debunked—I just assumed that before a gig, band members would do the kinds of things they do in Almost Famous. Sway back and forth in a group, maybe do some drugs, meditate, tweak instruments in secluded locations. But that doesn’t seem to be true at all. They’re just hanging out, waiting to go on). He was really cool, and I was intrigued about his band, the Midwest Avengers, especially after hearing the act that was playing as we chatted. The group on stage was a alternative rock band. They were jamming out pretty hard, making a lot of noise, except for the vocalist, who seemed bored and disinterested.
So the Midwest Avengers went on, and as it turned out, they weren’t quite a rap group. They were more like a rap-rock group, an intriguing mix (I assume there are other bands like this out there, but none that I currently listen too). And they weren’t bad. I wish the vocals could have been a little more clear, but I didn’t set my expectations high in a venue where the speakers were duct-taped to the wall (this may not be true, but that’s how it is in my memory). I did what any stereotypical white guy would have done at a concert—appreciatively stood up, tapped my foot, moved my head back and forth, and drank a beer. That’s good enough for me.
Caroline bought their CD, which we listened to on the way home…I have to say, the band is actually really good. The studio recording helps them, I think, because the sound is very clear. The lyrics are quite good, often funny, and the melody is great in many of the songs. I’d recommend giving them a try on iTunes.
I was almost hoping to be able to write a fish-out-of-water blog, but the above is what really happened. That’s the truth.