Monday, March 28, 2011

Lupe's Buzzkill of a "Concert"

Posted By on 03.28.11 at 02:02 PM

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Lupe Fiasco fans buying tickets for the show at House of Blues on Saturday night could be forgiven for expecting it to be a Lupe Fiasco concert—ads for the event prominently featured Lupe, and tickets started at $27.50 and went all the way up to $97.50 for VIP packages. Given that the night's entertainment consisted mostly of a DJ and a bunch of rappers who weren't Lupe Fiasco, it's not surprising that things turned ugly.

I wasn't there, but according to reports from attendees, during the five or so hours between the start of the show and Lupe's eventual appearance, numerous fights broke out in the general-admission area of the venue, the stage was piled with bottles thrown in protest, and at one point an unidentified man claiming to be part of the Black P. Stones gang came out and threatened the crowd on the mike. Lupe finally took the stage around 1 AM and delivered a 25-minute set that included a couple of songs he cut off after the first verse.

Andrew Barber of Fake Shore Drive, who was there, calls the gig an example of the "'it's booked as a celebration but not as a real concert so Lupe isn't technically supposed to perform" type of show. "In hip-hop they pull that all the time," he explains in an e-mail. "Get people to pay $40 to get in the door and then only pay the artist the appearance fee as opposed of the performance fee and then hope they do about five songs or so."

Indeed, it's a proven money-making formula for hip-hop promoters, though it involves misleading an audience and burning a lot of bridges for that payout. What's surprising is that a legitimate venue like House of Blues went along with it. The event was billed under the slightly ambiguous title "Lupe Fiasco Record Release Party," which technically didn't promise that Lupe was performing—but just from looking at the ads, I would've assumed he was.

It's a shame Lupe lent his name to such a sketchy scheme. Saturday's show was sold out, and Barber noted on Twitter that even writers for big newspapers in town had their guest-list requests turned down—it should've been a victory lap, not a disaster. Lupe's had a rough time recently, fighting to get Atlantic to even release Lasers and buckling under label pressure to record commercial material in the process. His fans are devoted enough to organize protests in his honor. They're the last people he needs to make into enemies.

Lupe's since taken to Twitter to apologize and put the blame on the promoters. We'll see how well that works as damage control.

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