CONCERT: Joe Budden x Opera House x 11/5/11

You know your fan base is special, when lackluster promotion, and an opening act that appears to be a practical joke on the audience doesn’t force a single audience member to call it an early night. The Opera House’s Doors open at 9:30 pm for Joe Budden to headline for a near two hour set.. The Jersey City native with the raspy voice, enters the stage before a raucous crowd of nearly 600 fans, a good number considering the botched job by the promoters.

Sporting black shades, a black scarf over a black button up wool sweater and black pants, it appears he is dressed appropriately for a funeral. It may be the end of the brief rap career of “K-Slick”. Those wondering what the ‘K’ stands for are welcome to guess, just as I have been doing, since he hit the stage.  My guess is ‘knucklehead’, which can be supported by his antics on and off the stage.

K-Slick appears dressed as if intends on auditioning for a Rascalz music video. Donning a nameless Toronto Maple Leafs’ jersey, Blue Jays fitted cap on top of a white bandana, which is matched with even more bandanas. Seemingly to cause some effect, he has one bandana tied to each of his wrists, on top of what appeared to be “Cutters” football gloves. Slick may have wanted to provide the paying crowd with their own gloves, as they’re unable to catch on to any of his music. The audience’s patience wears thin, and many chants, and boos are awarded back to Slick.

Tired of waiting for the Budden’s arrival, who is been rumored to not even be in the city, Slick leaves the stage multiple times, often leaving just a Slick’s partner, “Quincy” and a DJ, alone to consume the remains of the crowd’s disproval.

Slick’s return proves to be an amusing improvise. He relays messages to the audience such as “I received a text from Joe. He said he’s eating a steak” and “It’s not my fault, that his flight got pushed back. Just like his albums”. Each comment is like fuel to a fire, and the crowd’s reaction grows louder and louder.

Slick, visibly annoyed, has one final trick up his sleeve, “Joe Budden trivia”. Asking questions to the crowd backfires on him, as when one member who offers to answer a “question”, hijacks Slick’s microphone. A humorous game of “hot potato” ensues with members passing it back and forth. At once, he realizes what he’s up against and Slick is done for the night.

The biggest roar from crowd follows Slick’s departure, Quincy jogs behind him, leaving the DJ to play a medley, seemingly on repeat. The audience is left to stand around as the sounds songs are relief. Starting with “Niggas in Paris”, by Jay-Z and Kanye West, the loop features a tracklist that includes four separate spins each, of Joe Budden’s “Pump it up”, “Fire” and Marques Houston’s “Clubbin” which of course features a verse from Budden.

Vocal, angry and restless, the crowd comes to a hush when a new face appears to the DJ booth. “Damien” Joe Budden’s DJ emerges to swap out the previous DJ’s equipment in preparation for the main event.

Budden’s associate “Mal”, plays the crowd by offering a few jokes, easing the mob. Its finally time, the smoke machine hits and the music begins, Mal hypes the crowd enough that all of the previous events are a memory.

12:23am, the instrumental for “Aftermath” punches through the venue’s large sub woofers on the wall. “Jumpoff” Joe Budden finally appears, He walks on stage, drink in one hand, microphone in the other. As the horns and percussion hit from the beat, he takes a moment to shake hands with the many fans extending their hands to make contact. He sets back, places his drink and the crowd roars. He begins to spit and the crowd, males and females, rap along, matching, word for word.

“Shouts to all my fans, glad that I can inspire ‘yall. Got a couple haters, still trying to acquire more…”

A crowd friendly performance, Budden allows his music to make it an experience. He blesses the crowed with several gems of his catalogue such as “Follow my Lead” minus Joell Ortiz, “Come Along”, “Sober Up” and “Pump it up” which actually got the biggest ovation. He remarks following the song, “I don’t know what it is about ‘Budden fans’, but yall usually hate that song”

Budden even provides a Toronto exclusive.  Performing “10 minutes” live for only the third time in his career, flanked by loyal fan “Cory” who he pulled on stage to join him in the role of hype man.  Cory however, was not the only one who was offered a close up of Joe. Joe offers three fans the opportunity at a backstage pass, only if they can recite lyrics to verses of his selection, which all three fail.

Fans come close to receiving a bonus Budden hour, as its daylight savings and clocks go back at 2:00am, prompting him to ask at which 1:00am does the show finish. Unsuccessfully, the crowd shouts back “the second one!” One of the more comical moments of the night, which includes him taking time between songs, to tell stories behind his music.

The lights get even lower, and he slows down the pace of the show. With the crowd at his control, he performs songs such as “Exxxes”,  “Black Cloud”, and “Role Reversal”, some of his more imaginative content. “All of Me” is the final song that Joe offers to the crowd. With the beat playing out, he shoots a salute, disregards his microphone and leaps off stage, to hug, shake hands, and take photos with fans.

Joe Budden does a good job of carrying his humorous twitter persona on stage live. His witty remarks about a striped  pattern on the pants of a female in the crowd and even and “T.O. Flo” writer @SlavaP’s mustache.

Even when forced to weather through a terrible opening act, the crowd stays loyal as ever. Budden’s set makes up for a very weak start by K-Slick and little Quincy. Budden is very receptive to Toronto, and crowd returns the feeling. Great interaction with an audience always makes a great show and he understands this.

Budden’s crowd is a mixed bunch of individuals, the man bring s in a large number of dedicated listeners, males and females alike. It becomes scary to witness the groupie-like tendencies of much of the men who lose their sense of pride and shame just to be on stage with him and to make contact.

I do recommend attending a Joe Budden concert in Toronto, but pay attention to the billing. if Mr. K-Slick is performing there’s no rush, just get in on time for Budden. The following day after the show, becomes even more unintentional comedy, the young man doesn’t take well to criticism.

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