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Monday, August 27, 2012

Live Review, 8/25/12: The '80s Babies and Their New Faves Rule Rock The Bells

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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DMX
  • DMX

"I love California!" he exclaimed during one of his more coherent moments. "I've fucked Indian bitches here, Asian bitches here."

He let the crowd do much of the work of barking out songs like "Ruff Ryders Anthem" and "Where The Hood At," but he showed impressive energy and jumping skills while bouncing around. He announced that his next album will come out on Sept. 11, and it sounded like he'll donate some proceeds to help New Yorkers who were hurt in 2001.

The only live band of the entire production that we saw belonged to J. Cole, and it pulled off a very musical and entertaining soundcheck -- or maybe it was just a relief to hear live music after a few hours of recordings coming from DJs. Cole, an artist and producer signed by Jay-Z, wasted no time projecting the charisma that landed him on the Roc, and diamonds/Illuminati signs were thrown up as he ran through older songs like "Who Dat" and newer cuts like "Nobody's Perfect."

Ice Cube
  • Ice Cube

Ice Cube led the audience in a pledge of allegiance to the Westside and busted out a song he hadn't performed in 17 years: "No Vaseline," his diss cut to N.W.A. after he went solo. His longtime collaborator and onstage hypeman WC predictably offered his should-be-patented Crip Walk, but it was a shock to see Cube do it too, all in fun. His set was concentrated on hits like "It Was a Good Day," "You Can Do It," "Bop Gun (One Nation)," and "You Know How We Do It" but he also brought out his sons OMG and Doughboy for a new song.

Dynamic duo Redman and Method Man, hip-hop's Cheech and Chong, closed out the second stage with some funky Jacksons choreography (well, their version of it, anyway) and riffs of their smokiest work. After getting clobbered in a Method Man mosh pit last winter, we stayed on the fringes of their crowd, which was surprisingly mellow while we were there.

Redman and Method Man
  • Redman and Method Man

"Rock The Bells is where you come for that real hip-hop!" Redman said. And the lighters went up in the air.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I'm still on a high from interviewing Ice Cube on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, so I had to tear myself away from seeing all of J. Cole's set, which was one of the day's highlights. Once again, I wanted to be in two places at once.

Random detail: The venue had a texting system wherein people could send a message to be displayed on a ribbon at the bottom of monitors broadcasting the main stage. We watched one such monitor while waiting in a food line and giggled at the texting system backfiring a bit by being used for potential drug sales: "Selling trees in the parking lot behind Monster truck," read one missive. Oops.

By the way: 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the first Rock The Bells event, which was held in Southern California, so we suspect that promoter Guerilla Union plans to pull out some extra stops next year.

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