Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nneka – Double Door – 3/21/2012

Sometimes I can be a real dumbass. Two years ago Nneka played the Double Door on Valentine’s Day. And I skipped it. Knowingly. It’s not like I had a date… have you seen my profile pic? I’m sure I had a valid excuse, such as having to draw mustaches on all the models in the latest issue of Vogue. Sure, it was hilarious, but I regretted that decision for two long years until Nneka gave me a second chance and returned to the Double Door. If I had come all the way from Nigeria and Cracky couldn’t make the effort to don his parka and go a few miles down the street, I’m not sure I’d give him another chance. But that’s because I’m a vindictive ass.

However, in my defense when I tried to get a ticket, Double Door asked if I could do a favor for one of their best customers, Admiral Clement Okon, and purchase his ticket by Western Union wire transfer, since he was currently away on an off-shore oceanic expedition without access to Internet, and he would pay me back at show along with an extra $10MM USD for the inconvenience.

I never heard back from General Okon, but I did make it to this show early and planted myself up front. Which was one of the better decisions I’ve made recently for two reasons.

First, holy crap, is she good. From the moment she walked on stage I was drawn to her in every way. Simple, natural, passionate, informative, grateful, professional, beautiful, confident. Oh, yeah, and talented. The music has a decidedly reggae feel, but has elements from hip hop, blues and soul. And the band she has assembled moves between styles and keeps up with her every step of the way. They pour it all into a Nneka branded blender and serve the music up like a socially-conscious smoothie. But unlike a large corporation plastering carefully-crafted slogans on their cups and bags just to make you feel good about buying their crap, these songs have meaning for Nneka. And she wants them to have meaning to you. Which brings me to my second reason I was happy to be up front.

Most of the crowd that showed up was not worthy of this woman and should have been tossed head first into an industrial slicer. Being up front put fewer of them between me and the band. First, people, shut the fuck up. I still have no clue why anyone pays ten, fifteen, twenty plus dollars for a concert ticket and then talks through the whole show. Here’s a consumer tip from your Uncle Cracky – stay the hell home and listen to the CD or go around to the corner to one of hundreds of taverns around Chicago which has been specifically designed for that purpose. Hey, I get it, this ain’t Carnegie or the symphony, but when you go to a bar offering live music and you pay to get in and the artist is trying to tell you what the song means to her or is serving up a quiet acoustic number, how about giving those vocal cords a rest, Slappy, before someone gives you a roundhouse kick to your flapping jaw.

Furthermore, maybe you won’t show your complete ignorance over what is going on, as witnessed from the following paraphrased exchange between Nneka and a crowd of people whom I am ashamed to call my fellow Chicagoans. Although I have a feeling poor Nneka encounters this in venues throughout America. She’s giving the intro to a tune called V.I.P. (Vagabond in Power), basically about the abuse of power and the high proportion of dickheads who end up in those positions. Except she’s a bit more eloquent than I.

Nneka: Corporations exploiting the resources of Africa… because they consider the people of Africa… unimportant.

Crowd: murmur, murmur, murmur, my drink is empty, murmur, what are you doing after the show? murmur, hey baby, murmur

Nneka: Western VIP’s….

Crowd: murmur, wait, what did she say? VIP’s? We’re all VIP’s!!!! Yay! Woo-hoo, VIP’s!!!! Yeaaaahhhh!!!!!! VIPeeeeeesssss!!!!!!! Woo!

Nneka: sigh

Sorry, Nneka, we’re all not that ignorant. Really. It just seems that way. But if it means anything to you, this was easily one of the best shows I’ve seen this year and I promise not to miss you ever again.

Cracky and Nneka, sitting in a tree.