Live: Jay-Z Battles Bourgie Malcontents At Blender Theater


Blender Theater at Gramercy
Wednesday, Sept. 9

Man it’s a lot of fun standing in a mob of people angrily chanting “Fuck T-Pain!” Yes, Jay played a “secret” MySpace/DJ Hero show 48 hours before a slightly more publicized Madison Square Garden charity gig, but, Auh!, that’s just the sort of dude he is. “They told me to go 45 minutes,” he informs us. “I think I’m gonna go an hour and 15 and shit.” Magnanimous. The show actually lasted a little longer than even that, if you add in the fire-alarm thing.

I feared a wan, half-assed cameo tonight, but this was a full-power, full-band affair, splendidly echoing Jay’s APW show a couple months back, easily the best show I’ve seen this year. All those blaring guitars and synths turned “U Don’t Know” into aggro, Motörhead-caliber arena-rock; the horn section (my favorite) redeemed otherwise wayward pop-cheese moments like “I Know” and “Show Me What You Got.” No cameos, unless you count Memphis Bleek, which only seemed to apply to one really excited young lady in the crowd. There’s somebody for everybody.

The setlist was considerably less pandering than APW’s (the non-Linkin Park version of “Encore,” please), and leaned, of course, heavily on the fascinating, only occasionally disastrous Blueprint 3: He emerged triumphant to “Run This Town,” dragged us through “Venus vs. Mars,” and succeeded more through what he omitted (we’re off “Off That,” mercifully) than what he included. He did not update “D.O.A.” to reflect recent T-Pain-related events, leaving that to the crowd and focusing his enmity instead on dudes sitting down in the back: “This ain’t a poetry reading. You fuckin’ my whole vibe up and shit.” (He later dismissed an entire section as “bourgie.”)

And yeah, the fire alarm cut him off in mid-verse, triggering five solid minutes of total confusion, the band fleeing the stage, a bunch of stagehands standing around looking concerned, the crowd bewildered but nonplussed. (No Great White fans in attendence, I guess.) Eventually Jay reemerged and affected a brief, brutally efficient rapid-fire climax: “Can I Get A…,” “Big Pimpin’,” “Hard Knock Life,” you guys are cool, except you guys back there are bourgie, “Encore,” and he’s gone. Living in New York City is fun.

DJ Hero has only one turntable, which is strange to me.