Thursday, July 7, 2016

Concert Review: Sir-Mix-A-Lot at Summerfest

Two songs into his first-ever (!) Milwaukee show, Sir-Mix-A-Lot proclaimed (paraphrasing) “Ain’t nobody come out to these shows to hear some abstract-ass new song no one’s ever heard of. They want some old school!” The man certainly knows his audience.

That audience, as was probably expected was predominantly white and predominantly young, though all generations and races were represented. All the recent handwringing and thinkpieces in the music press about the misappropriation of black culture meant nothing here, because these people came to dance and Mix came to supply jams to dance to. The whole thing was essentially a 70-minute party.

It should be noted that Mix-A-Lot can flat-out rap. He had hype men, but they mostly stayed in the background to let Mix shine. Opener “Buckin’ My Horse” and a fiery rendition of “Testarossa” displayed his verbal skills. Also worth nothing was his storytelling skills. He said how he saw some lady on MTV -- who he claimed looked just like him, goatee and all -- who said he was the epitome of a one-hit-wonder. Mix -- yes, we are on a first name basis -- then got on Twitter to reply by taking a picture of his middle finger and then his taint. (Please don’t look that up on Google) But his nephew (also a member of his on-stage entourage) reminded him of his other hits, and they kicked into “Posse on Broadway”

It’s true that Sir Mix-A-Lot never reached the ubiquitous heights of “Baby Got Back,” but the set proved that he has songs that at the very least you’ve heard of. “My Hooptie” was well-received, if the stench of weed was any indication. “Swass,” which was apparently the basis for The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha,” was present, as was “Beepers,” “Buttermilk Biscuits,” “Jump On It” (which got the second-best reaction of the night, complete with copious references to Milwaukee, 414, Brewers, and Bucks), and, yes, his masterwork -- or magnum opus, if you insist -- “Put ‘Em On The Glass.”

The only real misstep was a bizarre (to me, anyway) interlude where they played Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and chanted over it. The crowd kept dancing like nothing had changed, which was sort of cool actually. I had just the right amount of beer in me to think a mosh pit was a good idea, but that never came to pass.

Mix kept the energy high throughout, and the crowd ate up every second of it. There was much booty-shaking, particularly by lovely young women. One had a permanent grin on her face while dancing with her man -- a pure unadulterated joy that my unshakeable melancholy won’t permit me to experience. There were dudes dancing too -- a pasty shirtless guy by himself, an old guy with a pony tail also by himself. Me, who in lieu of sweet moves swayed to the rhythms and tried my best to sing the lyrics.

The set ended as one would expect, with ladies invited on stage for an extended version of “Baby Got Back.” Mix-A-Lot high-fived people and thanked the crowd for coming out, and claimed he would be back. For an hour-plus of jamming out to classic tunes and forgetting about the daily grind, I would definitely go see him again.

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