Lupe Fiasco at Summerfest
The Chicago rapper brings some unlikely groups together Monday night
- MONDO LUCHA! celebrates fifth anniversary in high-flying style at Turner Hall
- David Sedaris goes off book, shines at Pabst Theater
- Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck offer glimpses of greatness at Riverside Theater
- John Hodgman, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman give Pabst Theater three shows for price of one
- Top 5 musical moments from Kenosha’s 2013 Ride of the Living Dead
Hopefully at least one Summerfest official was in the crowd for Lupe Fiasco’s electrifying concert at the Miller Lite Oasis Monday night, as the Chicago rapper highlighted exactly what is needed for the festival to reach a younger demographic. Skate punks stood next to hardcore hip-hop fans, who rubbed shoulders with frat bros. Nobody looked any older than 30. Thankfully, all parties got along swimmingly.
Much of the evening’s good vibes came directly from Fiasco’s own inclusiveness, as well as a top-notch sound system and an excellent live drummer. There was a frenetic quality to the best of Fiasco’s material, as the rapper always seemed on the verge of losing control. (I haven’t seen a rap act make such good use of nervous energy since early Public Enemy shows.) Much of Fiasco’s set possessed an almost punk-like feel, with the rapper prowling the stage like an amped-up front man. On an energetic “Hello Goodbye,” Fiasco even did a series of frenzied jumps off of the drum kit.
Like a lot of rappers, Fiasco still relies too much on medleys and shout-outs to the hometown crowd. (The tribute to Michael Jackson was a serious momentum killer.) Fiasco was more successful when he just let his stellar songs do the work for him. Striking versions of “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” and “Go Go Gadget Flow” highlighted the singular perspective that Fiasco brings to hip-hop, and made a compelling case for the Midwest's rap strength. While much of the Chicago love goes to Fiasco’s occasional partner-in-crime Kanye West, it is Fiasco who is pushing hip-hop in the most exciting directions.
Late in his set Fiasco performed “Kick, Push,” a song that combines the rapper’s love of hip-hop with his passion for skateboarding. With its blurring of underground cultures and ambiguous call to rebellion, it’s a perfect anthem for the genre-hopping iPod generation. It’s also a great summer anthem, and it sounded wonderful blasting out of the speakers on a mild night at Summerfest.