De verplaatste show van Sage Francis was een feit. Er waren verschillende vragen die je kon stellen: zou de zaal vol zijn aangezien KRS in de andere zaal van de Melkweg stond? Kon Sage zijn vorige show in de Melkweg evenaren?
I remember it like it was yesterday. My friend Max was throwing a Sage Francis show in Deurne and charging 3 Euros to get in. It was beautiful, but much has changed since those days.
Sage is now almost a household name and his latest release ‘A Healthy Distrust’ has been critically acclaimed from New York to Rijeka. Check out our review and cop this album as fast as you can (if you still haven’t done so).
So off to the Melkweg once again (damn, this place is turning out to be my second home these days). Meeting Konrad of Epitaph Records and shooting the shit for a while (expect another Atmosphere show sometime in the near future!) it was time for the interview with Sage Francis. Knowing from his website (www.non-prophets.com) that Sage constantly gets asked the same questions over and over, he usually takes the piss out of the interviewer when it gets boring and repetitive. To avoid this from happening to me, I came equipped with a finely constructed set of questions including the deadly “You’re hanging on the edge of a cliff and you are holding Sole on one hand and Slug on the other… Which one do you let go?”. Expect this crazy video-interview to be online soon! Also, it was decided that we would either bumrush the KRS-ONE stage or start a battle between the crowds by yelling at each other. Would Sage actually stick to our plan? We would see…
After the interview, I was just hoping that the crowd would not be as small and dead as it was a couple of days ago at the Sole show. Logically thinking, it shouldn’t be because Sage has gotten a lot of coverage on national television and newspapers with his latest release, and it was done in positive light. Seeing an almost full house after forty or so minutes had me grinning; we were definitely in for a dope evening.
Completing the interview with Grand Buffet, it was now time for the first act to hit the stage: Da Vinci. An unknown for me, the DJ with the artistic name took the stage and started doing some insane routines on his MPC while engaging in tribesman-like dance moves. Da Vinci took us on a crazy musical journey stretching from AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ to other guitar solo’s he furiously played on the machine. Da Vinci also treated us to some Drum & Bass/Gabber-type of music for a couple of minutes which was received well by the crowd. Definitely a good opener (he even played the MPC with his nose!), and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot from this man in the near future (Epitaph, you might have a new man to sign…).
After a short break of fifteen minutes or so, it was time for Grand Buffet to hype up the crowd. Touring with Sage Francis in the States, these men built up a reputation for being quite political, yet humorous at the same time. We could immediately see this when the two gentlemen hit the stage jumping up and down with a Donald Duck balloon attached to their hip. Their set consisted of tracks from their EP’s ‘Cigarette Beach’ and ‘Pittsburgh Hearts’ and the large group of fans from Den Helder went crazy when the track ‘Americus’ was being pumped out of the Melkweg speakers. The two gentlemen did not forget to pass around the big Donald Duck balloon in the crowd while making fun of the Dutch “Drukks, Drukks, Drukks” that they seemed to enjoy. The crowd was very into the show and the Pittsburgh men showed their love by jumping into the moshpit and pushing around with everybody else. It should also be mentioned that these guys are very good beatboxers, and while they might not look like a bad-ass rap duo if you saw them on the streets, they surely are.
So now it was time for grandmaster Sage Francis to bless the Melkweg stage. Starting off his set with ‘Escape Artist’, Sage had a guitarist to help out with the back vocals and Da Vinci to mix the tunes. Right when the ever-quickly rapped chorus to the opening track was about to be kicked in, Sage shut his mouth and let the back vocalist (to my big surprise) execute it with finesse:
“In an effort to make ‘em all see what I found in my life I decided to give ’em a look/ None of ’em giving a glimpse trying to guess that I’m sitting in the middle of an unread book/ Letters are falling apart/ But the sentence descend on the word and the wording is permanent/ Never been missed/ If you were missed/ What did you miss/ Interpreted is”.
Sage then went on to perform the ‘Crack Pipes’ lyrics on top of a Healthy Distrust beat and extended it further with Da Vinci once again doing crazy solo’s with his machine. Sage, who was wearing a monk’s outfit, started doing some insane dance moves like making headrolls with the guitarist to ‘Dance Monkey’ which ended fatally for the guitarists’ glasses (R.I.P.). Sage responded humorously by screaming “THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WANNA BATTLE THE SAGE!”. Also, for the first time in my life I witnessed a skit of an album being performed at a live show. ‘Voicemail Bomb Threat’ was re-enacted with Sage talking on the phone as the promoter while the guitarist and Da Vinci were waltzing in the background to the incredibly relaxed beat produced by Joe Beats.
The set continued with ‘Sea Lion’ (one of the highlight tracks of the latest album -produced by Alias), to be followed by a spoof version of Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’. The beat was jacked to the fullest, the lyrics changed up a bit, and Da Vinci was making b-boy stances in reaction to the loud Rick Rubin drums. The humor did not stop there, as every once in a while, the track ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’ (from the Team America: World Police Soundtrack) was played in a passive form of sarcastic rebellion.
The next track to be performed was one of my personal neo-Sage favorites: ‘Bridle’. What made it even better was the fact that Sage played an extended version of this track (not available on the album), including a never heard before second verse. At times like these I wish I had a secret microphone to make a bootleg of the show. What was even better was that Sage actually went ahead with what we talked about backstage, and the war vs. the KRS-ONE crowd had been put into motion. Knowing that his fans would be loyal, Sage asked the Dutch crowd to yell at the top of their lungs “OVVVAA HEEEREE!” to the question “WHERES THE REAL HIPHOP AT?!”. This continued on for a while and the KRS-fans heard the Sage army without a doubt. Alright, maybe they didn’t hear us because of the big door / hallway / loud music combination that separates the venues, but it was still dope.
Nearing the last three tracks of the show, the energy of the crowd was at a high and Sage seemed nowhere near tired. The final trio started with ‘Jah Didn’t Kill Johnny’, a dope cut about Johnny Cash and questioning why he passed away, which was interpreted even stronger with Da Vinci’s live harmonica (damn, this guy knows his stuff!). Next up was ‘Climb Trees’, basically the track that got Sage really out there to the underground market. Once again, an extra spice was added to the track when the whole crowd was told to do the ‘Tree Climbing Dance’ or else Sage would leave. The final banger of the evening was ‘Makeshift Patriot’, the #1 song about loving your country and serving it with pride… NOT!
When the set of the Epitaph/Strange Famous artist ended, the audience was thirsty for more. Clapping hands loudly and screaming for an encore, there was clear disappointment in the crowd when Sage did not return. One must not be fooled, because this is definitely not Sage’s fault. The Melkweg has a strict rule about when a show ends, and I had seen backstage that the curfew was set promptly at 23:00. Oh well, people who missed Sage’s set or the diehard heads who want to see him again can head over to Belgium’s Dour Festival.
This was most definitely one of the greatest nights in the history of the Melkweg. Having a legend like KRS-ONE performing across the hallway and still filling up the second stage with Sage Francis fans was a memorable night (especially for the lucky people who witnessed both shows). Da Vinci started us off with dope instrumentals; Grand Buffet continued with political humor and Sage Francis topped it off with a memorable, near perfect performance. For the first time in a really long period, I can’t find anything to complain about…
Hoogtepunt: everything… from start to finish
Dieptepunt: I really can’t think of anything
Bier: 2 Euros
Geluid: suprisingly good
Bezoekers: almost full house
Damage: 11 Euros + membership