Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Erykah Badu really put it down on Monday night at Wingate Field out in Flatbush. I really love those Wingate shows. Out of all the free-concert series that take over New York every summer, the Wingate one is probably my favorite, even though they don't sell any food inside the venue and it takes forever to get out of Flatbush at night. It's a huge venue, basically high-school football field with a bigass stage attached, and you can show up just a little while before the show and still get in, as long as you don't mind listening to Marty Markowitz talk about civic pride for like an hour. (It's more fun than it sounds.) And they actually book acts who people want to see. Like Erykah Badu.

Badu's recent psyche-soul earth-mother kick is basically tremendously pretentious all the way around, but she makes it work because she commits to it completely. She's got presence for days, she can sing her ass off, and the band she's got these days (flute player and all) know exactly how to play off of her and follow her cues. I couldn't get all the way behind New Amerykah because there's practically not a single hook on the whole record, but that's not as much of a problem live because you know she's got "Tyrone" and "Bag Lady" in the chamber and ready to go whenever people get too restless. (She's also really funny, which helps.) A Fluxblog-type setlist for the Monday night show would be like this: some song / some song / Erykah taps on a drum and makes weird mouth noises for a couple of minutes / something that Andy Beta said was an Ethiopian love-dance or something / long dorm-room bong-hit monologue about a documentary she saw one time / some song. But she's got enough force of personality to make it work, and whenever the jumbotron camera would zoom in on her face, with its giant afro-wig, when she was hitting a high note, she'd look like the Maggot Brain cover, which I liked. And it was sort of a blessing that the crowd thinned out a bunch before she finished; it gave everyone room to move. I was standing near the back of the field, and during the last song a crowd of about a hundred people, all standing near me, started doing the Electric Slide for some reason. It ruled. People need to do that at shows more.

Also, I thought it was really smart that Badu's DJ started the show by playing "A Millie" and then cutting it off right at the "where is Erykah Badu at" part.

A quick point about the whole Badu-having-kids-with-rappers thing that everyone was getting upset about a few weeks ago: Nobody's mentioned that Badu has really good taste in rappers to have kids with. Andre 3000, the D.O.C., and Jay Electronica are all great rappers! And I have this vague idea that they all seem like they'd be pretty good dads, especially the D.O.C. I like the idea that there's a kid in a backyard somewhere playing catch with that guy, anyway. And meanwhile she dated Common's lame ass forever but never had his kid. Good job, Erykah Badu!