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Live Wires 

The high and lowlights of 2006 performances

Wednesday, Dec 20 2006
Before we toss our 2006 calendars, it's time for a little eggnog-induced reflection on what went down on stage — or on the tour bus between gigs, as it were.

Lady Sov's Public Meltdown

With a mountain of hype making her seem like the biggest British act since the bloody Beatles, trainspotters zeroed in on Lady Sovereign's November appearance at Mezzanine. But the diminutive femcee's embarrassing tantrum — which continued throughout a lackluster performance — proved a buzzkill in more ways than one. Half of the sold-out crowd was long gone by the time the torment mercifully ended with an unintentionally ironic cover of the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant."

The B.A.R.S. Fiasco

The Bay Area Rap Scene Awards could have been the hyphy movement's answer to the Grammys. Instead, the Dec. 2 event started with a 40-person Fillmore entourage basking in San Quinn's reflected glory, and ended two hours later with 300 people on stage being dispersed by cops in riot gear. Hmm, maybe there's a smarter alternative to "going dumb."

The Coup's Tour Bus Crashes

We're fairly certain bad roads — and not government conspiracies — are to blame for the politically outspoken Oakland group's bus crashing after a December San Diego show (with tourmate Mr. Lif) and bursting into flames. Still, that's hella fucked up: Not only were several dates canceled, but background vocalist Silk-E and Lif's DJ Wiz suffered serious injuries, and the band lost all its equipment and gear.

Hyphy A.W.O.L. at Shadow's Gig

With all the focus on DJ Shadow's plunge into hyphy on his latest album The Outsider, it seemed reasonable to expect some stunnarific guests for his September Greek Theatre show. But instead of the Federation, Turf Talk, and Keak Da Sneak, the Yay Area was underwhelmed by now-vintage trip-hop anthems and bland, insipid Britpop from Chris James.

Santana Goes Senile?

The otherwise spectacular Damian Marley/Ben Harper show at the Greek featured a peculiar cameo by a geriatric Carlos Santana, who hit a few solos — all featuring prolonged notes in the upper register — then wouldn't leave the stage. Santana added nothing to Harper's masterful slide guitar playing — it's possible the shoe-designing geezer mistook poor Ben for Rob Thomas and was waiting for him to play "Smooth."

Gallantly Tasered

As the saying goes, you're nobody until you get tasered on stage in Texas. And while Two Gallants' October Houston show — when a police officer allegedly went ballistic on the S.F. band and several audience members— was certainly shocking, it did result in considerable publicity the folk-rock group might not otherwise have received.

KRS Loses It

During a March conference for Stanford's Hip Hop Archives, "Stop the Violence" movement founder KRS-One threatened journalist Adisa Banjoko, insulted a roomful of credentialed academics, and claimed Too Short wasn't hip hop. That's not a good look.

2006 wasn't all bad, however. Some highlights:

Honeycut's Coming-Out Party

Months before its song "Shadows" became a hit on Live 105, a then-unknown Honeycut made its first public appearance at a February Noise Pop showcase. Bart Davenport came off like a cross between Mick Jagger and Todd Rundgren, RV Salters was a keyboard maniac, and Tony Sevener's live MPC programming truly sealed the deal. Even then you just knew these guys had something special.

Hyphy and Backpackers Unite

Hyphy generated big sales and renewed national interest in local hip hop, but it also accumulated negative publicity. All was gravy, though, at the second consecutive sellout of "Paid in Full," an annual local hip-hop showcase, which brought together Zion-I, Turf Talk, Mistah F.A.B., Gift of Gab, and the Crown City Rockers. Luckily, the audience, the artists, and their entourages all kept their cool.

Banton Goes On

This August, reggae superstar Buju Banton overcame accusations of homophobia from LGBT activists, concerns of "possible fanatical followers" by public officials, and two canceled concerts (in Oakland and San Francisco) to deliver a two-hour outpouring of blazing dancehall and mellow roots at Berkeley's Shattuck Down Low — which was as love-affirming as it was hate-free.

About The Author

Eric K. Arnold


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