live review

De La Soul

De La Soul

May 12 2009
The Opera House, Wellington

Reviewed by Courtney Sanders
29th March 2010

DE LA SOUL 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
OPERA HOUSE, WELLINGTON
TUESDAY 12TH MAY 2009

So, there are several interlocking factors that make a good gig a good gig. There’s the crowd, the venue, the logistical circumstances – sound, lighting et al – and then there’s the act themselves. Often the act themselves is so overwhelmingly good that no matter what the other factors offer, their show is going to rule regardless. And sometimes, the quality of the performance can actually change the perception of the rest of the factors, a la that guy that was standing in front of me was super annoying but he was just really excited because the band were that good. Sometimes, however, and as was the case for De La Soul at the Opera House in Wellington, these conglomerative factors are more interesting and become the primary motive for going and the (main) reason for such an entertaining evening.

This gig had been moved from SFBH to The Opera House and I heart The Opera House (the last show I had seen there was Ryan Adams - read; Beautiful) so I was super stoked to be back there. And it was just as lovely as ever. However, with the brightly coloured backing screen serving to turn a floodlit venue into something of a day-glow rave-up (which was actually a De La appropriate lighting situation), I think the choice of location only served to highlight the dichotomy between the classiness of the venue, the classiness of the act, and the dynamic of the crowd. Who. Were. Embarrassing.

I had some notes written down from the night, and as I was going back through them it was probably about 80-20 in favour of crowd occurrences V De La Soul themselves, and this could potentially say something of my appreciation for said band, but I don’t think so. Because A) I really enjoyed the show. Their absolute professionalism, tight set and crowd hyping was old-school classic, their ability to shout things like ‘You up top get so excited you crash the balcony and kill everyone underneath (WTF)’ (and the resulting deafening stamping) spoke volumes for their ability to charm everyone in the process of delivering hits that defined Hip hop, and B) All of the notes that I wrote down in my notebook have little things beside them that refer to who actually made that comment; so for example, Ashlee who I was sitting beside noted “OMG, the guy in front of us is probably the biggest douche bag I have ever seen and I haven’t even talked to him yet”. And she was right. In between PDA-ing his girlfriend he was contained in some sort of hypnotic funk dance thing that was Horrific to watch. Then there was the girl who fell on top of us twice – once walking down our row and once upon her return – and then there was the end stage raid times. Oh but first there was the guy who jumped onto the stage expecting to be able to crowd surf back into it only to find there was no-one left to prop him up – that initiated giggling so strong from the band that they couldn’t continue to rap. Shame to his name. And as for the last crowd hurrah? De La Soul, true to their rudimentary but brilliant crowd cajoling of the night – which involved things like ‘put your hands up’ and ‘when I say yes, you say no’ – invited all the ‘ladies’ upstairs to hang out with them. Which would have been fine, had an overenthusiastic blonde lass not decided to try to pash a member by literally engaging him in a headlock type maneouvre, forcing his retreat to the back of the stage for the remainder of the show. And this girl was kind of the personification of the crowd for the night – everyone was just so ridiculously, manically excited.

I guess the crowd potentially only serves to highlight the ability of a band serving out their twentieth anniversary on tour, and the following that one undoubtedly builds up as a result of this mainstay, and they were really good, to the point where for many people, a stage raid was unavoidable, but I can’t help being just a little bit embarrassed. What is De La Soul going to think of Wellington? One inescapable image of a blonde haired embrace? I hope not. But hell, at least I (and everyone else) have fond memories. Thanks for going through that for us De La Soul.



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