Review and photos: More Base, less of Vanilla Ice's snarl
For “old skool night” Sunday at Shephard’s, Harlem hitmaker Rob Base transported listeners back to the fun and funky days of ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop and pop. Vanilla Ice, on the other hand, took them to a place of raunchy rap-metal they never asked to go to.
In fact, it’s now safe to say that Suge Knight’s not the only one with beef vs. the Iceman, Robert Van Winkle.
When a nimble Rob Base took the stage, the tiki deck was shoulder-to-shoulder with fans nostalgic for Spandex-era oldies. Rob sang to a medley of hip-hop and R&B classics, including De La Soul’s Me Myself and I, Biz Markie’s Just a Friend and Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T. His flow was tops on original, Gospel-infused Joy and Pain. He even paused the track so the crowd could do the “sunshine and rain” part a capella, which they totally nailed. He was minus DJ E-Z Rock, but was accompanied by a DJ Kool-like character instead (you know, the “let me clear my throat” guy) – a great wingman/cheerleader with great vocal range. It Takes Two came off nicely, too.
Just when Shephard’s seemed to be a safe haven for carefree, dance-worthy oldies, a crude, aggressive Vanilla Ice performed stuff better suited for an Insane Clown Posse opening act. A deranged Santa clown ran around the stage and a buzz saw shot off sparks as Ice performed unfamiliar rap-metal tracks. Even when Ice Ice Baby finally came (confetti cannons rang in the moment, in fact), an ultra-hoarse Vanilla Ice performed it with teeth clenched and zero dance moves.
Perhaps in an attempt to amp up crowd participation (the opening numbers received some boos), he told fans to get up, wave your hands this way, that way and so on. Comedian Steve Harvey has a great bit about too many instructions at concerts today.He says something to the effect of, “I paid $29.50 to see you do the work.” Totally what I was feeling here.
A Play That Funky Music cover was an improvement, but before long Ice was back to the trashy stuff. He made some reference to the Surreal Life and to his co-star Ron Jeremy, then asked “How many people like porno?” Really?
Finally, he announced that he still loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and that he was going to do my beloved Ninja Rap. (Yea!) This is the “remake,” though, he said. (No!) It came off as another too-hard rendition of what should be an innocent rap-pop tune about crime-fighting reptiles.
If not for the great setting on the water and underdog Rob Base’s excellent set, this one could have easily made the fail blog.
-- Carole Gimbalvo, Soundcheck contributor
Vanilla Ice tries to make nice with fans at Shephard's. [Photo by Luis Santana | tbt*]