On Monday night, the AmEx Sync Show Presenting Jay-Z took place in Austin, Texas. The star of the show, Shawn Carter, not only performed a phenomenally intimate set in front of a capacity crowd of less than 3,000 at Austin City Limits, but also for those watching the live stream on YouTube and VEVO. Halfway through the concert, once I realized this wasn't a typical concert experience — just in the sense that it wasn't private for simply those of us in attendance — it became clear that a typical writeup was also not in the cards. Writing about the chronology of the concert, the genius transition from "Glory" to "Hard Knock Life," hearing Jay-Z say "all the parents in the house, make some noise," or Hov's mulligan on "U Don't Know" because he messed up the lyrics is interesting, but that doesn't shed any real light into the unique experience of being there.
Full disclosure: I hate live music. Too loud, too crowded, too hard to have a conversation, and just generally too much yelling for my taste. However, my love of all things Wu-Tang so surpasses my distaste for live music that when I heard that the Clan was bringing their Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game to a venue mere yards from Grantland HQ, I had to attend. OK, fine, I didn’t have to. I planned on attending, then didn’t feel like it, then only came around when I considered how livid 17-Year-Old Me would be if he knew that he would grow up to be Now Me.
Van Halen performed at Café Wha? last night. It’s possible you’ve already heard reports of this, since Café Wha? only holds 250 people and just about every single person inside the venue was a journalist, an industry bozo, or a former Wimbledon champion (John McEnroe was there). This event was partially the result of Café Wha? being previously owned by David Lee Roth’s 92-year-old uncle, but it mostly happened because Van Halen assumed unfathomable intimacy would be an easy way to remind the media that they’re still awesome. The stage was about 15 feet long and eight feet deep; in 1981, it’s possible Roth could have touched the ceiling with his foot, or at least with his samurai sword. It was a little like watching Darryl Dawkins dunk over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on a Nerf hoop in your grandparents' basement.