Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Review: Public Enemy, Ice Cube and LL Cool J rattle the Mahaffey with rap's boisterous past

ST. PETERSBURG — With the cranium-rattling levels of bass, chaos and raised-fist rap lyricism filling up the Mahaffey Theater Thursday — De La Soul! Public Enemy! Ice Cube! LL Cool J — it was easy to get seduced by the Kings of the Mic Tour.

A little older, a little thicker, a lot richer, these hip-hop progenitors still possess the sweat, passion, VOLUME to stir the blood, make you feel youthful, unconquerable. They made you feel like it was okay to wear your baseball hat backwards again. Oh yeah, feels good!

Every now and then over the three-hour-plus show, however, the near-capacity crowd of 2,000-some would get knocked back into a 21st century reality. For instance, when PE's Chuck D barked out a ferocious rhyme — and then gave everyone his Twitter address. He even said "Tweet me!" I wasn't sure whether I should fight the power or go cry in the bathroom.

Hey, that's a retro reunion show for you. It was loud and sloppy and silly, and the ferocious societal wallop these guys once delivered has been turned into a feel-good sing-along.

But hey, these are darn good songs to sing along to. Give me PE's thunderous Can't Truss It — quite possibly the most insane jam the Mahaffey has hosted — over most of today's pretty rap. (Kids, get off my lawn, right? Rap is always more meaningful when you're 18 years old.)

The trio of De La Soul smartalecks are still nimble, and the show had its first gloriously transcendent high when, at the end of their short set, they launched into Me, Myself and I.

Backed by a full band, a DJ and a small army, PE was next, with Chuck D and notorious clock-wearer Flavor Flav — both in their early 50s and recent inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — refusing to act their age. The volume was way too pumped, and their powerful words were buried under needless boom. But it wasn't hard singing along to 911 Is a Joke (Flav doing his squirmy spaz dance, natch), Bring the Noise and Don't Believe the Hype.

Long before he was considered family entertainment, Ice Cube was the most incendiary mouthpiece in music, the most dangerous man in the most awesomely dangerous band on the planet: N.W.A. He's not as fearsome at 43, but he still has the gift of those naturally arched eyebrows, which make him look like he's about to slug someone. His set was compact and hard, old-school gangsta, opening with Natural Born Killaz. Cube showed his melodic side on Check Yo Self ("Cuz shotgun bullets are bad for your health") then caused a minor riot with N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton.

Closer LL Cool J (aka 45-year-old James Todd Smith) is also a household name and multi-hyphenate: movies, TV, licking his lips as host of the Grammys. But let it be known the man responsible for Mama Said Knock You Out and Going Back to Cali is still a pugilistic MC. Backed by DJ Z-Trip, LL made sure his vocal was high and mighty during his hit-packed set. For all his Hollywood trappings these days, his performance was in-your-face and unfettered, including a haymaker version of I'm Bad. Call me crazy, but LL and Cube and PE sell their boasts better as middle-aged survivors. All hail the Kings — they've earned the title.

Comments
Imagine Dragons coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Imagine Dragons coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Let's be honest: Imagine Dragons are probably the most successful rock band of this decade.They're not the only group to debut in the 2010s who can also headline arenas, but they're definitely the only one to have such enormous crossover success on a...
Updated: 12 hours ago
This week’s top concerts: Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Clearwater Sea-Blues and more

This week’s top concerts: Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Clearwater Sea-Blues and more

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Willie NelsonI’m sure that when Willie Nelson had to postpone his recent Clearwater concert after a bout with the flu, you, like me, took the news well, spitting through clenched teeth: "OH NO YOU DON’T, 2018. YOU WILL NOT TAKE WIL...
Published: 02/21/18
Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron talks touring at 50, being the ‘Two Princes’ guy and more

Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron talks touring at 50, being the ‘Two Princes’ guy and more

Go back and read Rolling Stone's 1993 cover story on the Spin Doctors — yep, that's a thing that actually happened — and the first quote from singer Chris Barron jumps out."I don't want to be 50 years old and be out on the road with my vo...
Published: 02/21/18
Hernando symphony tackles old and new favorites

Hernando symphony tackles old and new favorites

BROOKSVILLE — From Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra to Bruno Mars and Carlos Santana — tunes from all over the musical spectrum.Those are a taste of the old and new favorites audiences can enjoy when the Hernando Symphony Orchestra presents its Spectrum...
Updated: 12 hours ago
SoundBytes: Coheed and Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, Dua Lipa, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and more

SoundBytes: Coheed and Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, Dua Lipa, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and more

— Prog-punk and emo will meet this summer when Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday embark on a summer tour that stops at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 7. The Story So Far will open. Tickets are $29.50 and up. Click here...
Published: 02/20/18
Snoop Dogg, T.I. to headline inaugural Halftime Music Festival in Tampa

Snoop Dogg, T.I. to headline inaugural Halftime Music Festival in Tampa

Are you ready for an all-new hip-hop festival in Tampa?Snoop Dogg and T.I. are scheduled to headline the inaugural Halftime Music Festival on May 5 in the North Lot of Raymond James Stadium. Also on the bill: Karol G, Baby Rasta y Gringo and Brytiago...
Published: 02/20/18
SoundBytes: Glass Animals, Katt Williams, Natalie Prass, Lee Ann Womack and more

SoundBytes: Glass Animals, Katt Williams, Natalie Prass, Lee Ann Womack and more

— British alt-rock outfit Glass Animals is coming to the Ritz Ybor on July 24. Knox Fortune will open. Click here.— Katt Williams is returning to the USF Sun Dome on April 14. Tickets are $49 and up. Click here.— It's been a while s...
Published: 02/19/18
2018 Safety Harbor SongFest lineup: Fantastic Negrito, Josh Ritter, more

2018 Safety Harbor SongFest lineup: Fantastic Negrito, Josh Ritter, more

Folk, blues, even a little bit of rock: The 2018 Safety Harbor SongFest has a little something for everyone.Organizers on Sunday night announced the lineup for Safety Harbor's fifth annual festival, which returns April 7 to Safety Harbor Waterfront P...
Published: 02/19/18
Review: Kelsea Ballerini gets close to fans, digs into ‘Unapologetically’ at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Review: Kelsea Ballerini gets close to fans, digs into ‘Unapologetically’ at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Kelsea Ballerini has a story to tell. It's the story of the last three crazy years of her life, from a breakup to the Grammys to a marriage and all the "life, growing up, self-discovery" in between.If you heard her new album Unapologetically, it's a ...
Published: 02/17/18
Tickets on sale this week: Smashing Pumpkins, Katt Williams, Alan Jackson, Eddie Money, Coheed and Cambria

Tickets on sale this week: Smashing Pumpkins, Katt Williams, Alan Jackson, Eddie Money, Coheed and Cambria

Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:• Smashing Pumpkins, 7 p.m. July 25 at Amalie Arena, Tampa, $29-$125, on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the box office, 401 Channelside Drive (walk-up only), and via Ticketmaster at Ticketmaster.com, o...
Updated: 9 hours ago