All photos by Chris Svetlik
All words by Daniel Bleiberg.
The last show that I went to, Wale dipped out after about ten minutes and two full songs, so when the sold-out crowd at the Black Cat on Monday night spent a solid hour and a half waiting around for just an opening act for Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek to materialize, I was thinking I might be cursed. Luckily, things eventually got off the ground as Laws, of Tampa’s J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League got on stage for a quick set. And while he spent most of that time trying to win the audience over, a nifty cameo by DC’s own Tabi Bonney got the crowd pulsing. By the time Talib and Tek got on the mics, the anticipation had built to a nice little crescendo.
Now, it seems to me that people are either into Talib Kweli or they’re not at all, and no amount of convincing gets anybody to change their mind. That being said, even an anti-Talib enthusiast would have to have been impressed by the energy they were bringing. Mixing in classic material from Blackstar and Reflection Eternal with some of Kweli’s more recent solo work, the two dropped one crowd pleaser after another. They also afforded everyone a sneak peak of Revolutions Per Minute, Talib and Hi-Tek’s upcoming album set to be released in a couple weeks.
So the set was great. Everyone seemed pleased. And then they came back for an encore and it got weird. Talib invited the ladies in the crowd onto the stage and somehow managed to pull up a set of women that just could not dance. Or, they could dance, but it didn’t look pretty. The juice in the room fizzled out quick, and Talib, maybe frustrated at the lack of energy, invited dudes up onto the stage as well. It didn’t help, naturally, but then the Black Cat crew, for whatever reason, decided to shut the show down and kill the music. Talib got pissed. He yelled at the soundmen for being unprofessional and cutting him off and he told the entire staff of the Black Cat that there would be consequences if they didn’t let him finish the set like he wanted to. Just like that, Talib got music back and the Black Cat staff dedicated themselves for the next fifteen minutes or so to the task of bouncing prospective dancers off the stage. Bizarre. But a bizarre ending to a good show is better than nothing.