Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tomorrow night, at the Verizon Center, I will be attending the Maxwell concert. Also in attendance will be rapper Common, singer Chrisette Michele, and jazz pianist, Robert Glasper.. The music fan in me appreciates the fact that each artist brings something to the stage, which shall make for a fun-filled night of music. The analyst in me thinks this particular combination of artists in a large venue like the Verizon Center is a complete disaster. Allow me to explain.

I'll start with Maxwell. I enjoy his music, his voice and his showmanship, but with an artist like that acoustics are everything. Last November, I went to see him in Constitution Hall , which is a much smaller venue, and seats about 17,000 less people. There was no echo in the building, and there was a very intimate feel to the show. He performed there five nights, and each one was sold out. Now, he's attempting to move his show to a huge venue that doesn't really play to his strengths as an artist. Artists like U2, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones could get away with a huge venue, because their sets and their bands allowed for it. Maxwell? Not so much

Next we have Chrisette Michele, who I really can't say a whole lot about, because I don't own any of her music except this collaboration she did with the Roots. She has an above average voice, and I don't have a problem with her music, I just think she falls in the Maxwell category of being better suited for a smaller venue. But she has a slight advantage over all of the other performers, because she'll most likely be the last artists to sing before Maxwell. That means that people will be so excited to see Maxwell, that they will cheer and hype themselves up during Michele's set.

Common will have the second most difficult job of the night, because he is the only hip hopper on the billing. Now I wish I could say that fans of Maxwell, are fans of Chrisette Michele, and are naturally fans of Common, but it doesn't always work like this. I've known and followed Common since 1992, and I basically own his own catalog, but I wonder the masses will know and follow his lyrics. And even though he performs with a lot of energy and he's a veteran performer, in the Verizon Center (as opposed to smaller clubs where he usually performs) the tendency will be to yell, which will make it hard to hear how good his lyrics really are. I'm not saying he can't pull it off, it will just be a tall task.

And last but not least is Robert Glasper, who in my opinion, has the most difficult job of the evening. Jazz artists typically make a name for themselves by performing in small clubs with loyal followers. The last jazz show I attended was at a club called Blues Alley, which probably seats 50-75 people. Jazz fans make for sophisticated audiences. They know when to clap, when to shut up, when to recognize a great solo, and when something is awry. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Maxwell type of crowd won't get and understand those little nuances. And the full, rich sound that a pianist and his band get from performing in a jazz club, might be lost in a huge venue. And it sucks because Robert Glasper and his trio are GREAT..not good.

I am not trying to be negative here. In fact on Saturday, if the concert is bad, I will write a line-by-line rebuttal. I just worry that this experiment is not the way to go. Someone should have consulted me, so I could show them the way to go.

J Dillalude - Robert Glasper


DB said...

Hey Rashad, I'll be at the concert too! And completely agree and am concerned about each point mentioned. I almost didn't get a ticket because it is at the Verizon Center, but I'm such a fan of Maxwell's I'd feel like I missed out. Plus Common! I thought this will either be really dope or really really awful. So, crossing my fingers that it will be worth the ticket price and the effort.

Janelle said...

can you feel the hate??!! can you?? hahahahahaa