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October 11, the date of my first review assignment for The Grimey Gatsby dot com. The EXDO
Event Center, a few hundred steps from where I parked on 33rd and Larimer, hosted this stop on
DJ Carnage’s Parental Advisory Tour featuring an energetic and highly danceable coordination of
Admittedly, in a total rookie move, I waited for a few minutes in the long line of crews draining
booze and shoving each other. But the seasonal changes in Denver weather inspired hope that the
word “press” could make a difference. Shout-out to the doorman. My inexperience was no more
visible in the short line, loaded with hungry LOUDPVCK fans a few of which were turned away
My name was on the list, game on with the self-proclaimed lord of the trap. I wanted to witness a
display of raw rap technique and feel the cleanse of that recklessness so many rappers are trying
to harness in these times of fragmentation and bubbling social tension.
The preliminary performances generated good energy but only captured so much of my personal
attention. A diverse range of teens and twenty-somethings made up the audience including a
healthy latin@ contingent sure to keep the party moving. I planned to order just one drink,
maker’s and coke, but my plans changed when I saw a fan pulled out of the crowd by an officer,
blunt in hand, still lit. Though I was glad to see this man’s punishment top out at legal lecture and
simple asset forfeiture, I did notice that the air smelled clean and the bars were bumpin’.
My focus on A$AP aside, I’ll give it to the opening acts whose quilt of variations of both classics
and originals laid solid concert groundwork before clearing out at 10:00 pm sharp. During the
wait I met up with another GG unit who bought me that second beer and somehow persuaded the
front desk into sticking a photo pass on my chest.
With the crowd bulging, that most infamous monologue from Pulp Fiction rolled through the
speakers introducing Ferg with a cleverness perhaps lost on this young crowd. “… and you will
know my name is the Lord …” Samuel L. Jackson warned as Ferg jumped onstage to the fan
favorite ‘I fucked your bitch.’
Frequently with rap shows the ratio holds: the less people of color in an audience, the more the
MC must guide fans toward performative reciprocity. EXDO felt ready but A$AP puts in work
and they don’t appreciate a lazy crowd. Ferg took control right after the opener, asking, “do you
like that fuckin’ song?” only to tell, “then ACT like you like that fuckin’ song!”
The set riffed over A$AP past and present, including ‘(get the) fuck out my face,’ a few verses
from the quintessential LORD$ NEVER WORRY mixtape, and the obligatory ‘Shabba.’ The
peak came during the extended treatment of Juvenile’s ‘back dat ass up’ segueing into ‘work,’
one of Ferg’s most popular tracks brought to life by balloons and a string of healthy women
onstage under the implicit agreement of knowing how to twerk.
One could say that Ferg’s disappointment prompted an abrupt ending of the set but the truth is he
did what he could to interweave his shit with what was always gonna be a dance party. And DJ
Carnage didn’t make the audience wait long before redirecting that momentum toward a seamless
mega set of exploratory dance technics and teased-out bass drops. The dance floor stayed hot.
I hadn’t felt the cleanse but it had been a good show. I was partially gauging my interest in
staying when I asked a door attendant if reentry was an option. In a rather tangential reply she
told me I was free to go backstage with the rappers, tapping the press pass on my chest. I thanked
her with a smile, entering the first of two smoky backrooms. Beginner’s luck.
Feeling momentum and recognizing that the back-back room was where the real action was at, I
turned that knob next and pushed open the door. Chilling around a big table was Ferg with his
legs up, A$AP Ant, and other members of the crew. I wish I could report more grime but the girls
invited onstage were apparently not shown comparable courtesy by the door lady. A member of
said crew still quickly pushed me out. After a short while, Ant came out to the second room to
discuss some entrepreneurial possibilities with a few local acquaintances. Then he noticed me and
asked whom the fuck I was.
“I don’t have anything to sell,” I said, immediately playing hopeless defense.
“Who are you?” Ant repeated.
“I’m just a fan of rap music. I wanna spread your word, watcha got?” Holding up my phone.
“Press?” Ant asked. I thought of the sticker on my chest.
“Eh … kinda, not really.” It didn’t feel like a lie.
“Get the fuck out,” Ant said, pointing at the door. I had been back there for about 20 minutes.
“I won’t fuck with y’all, bro” I tried to assure, nonetheless rising out of my chair with an
understanding that I had seen too much to be allowed to stay.
“OUT! OUT!” Ant bodied me up all the way out the door. I guess I walked too slowly.
Outside, Ant pointed me out to the door lady and said, “do NOT let this man back in.”
“What did you do?!” She asked, worried.
“Nothing much – they just don’t want press,” I calmly replied.
“Well you can go back in if you want,” she insisted, referencing my pass.
Apparently I wasn’t the only first-timer.
Written by: Martin Osborn @o_z.z_y Photos and Video by: Zac Cheek @digitalcriminal