*** K-OTIX Spontaneity First-Run tee in khaki***
Our first meeting with Wu Tang on December 12, 1993 left me with the impression that musicians are, for the most part, regular folks like the rest of us. When they’re cut, they bleed (literally). The next few encounters with Wu Tang highlighted other realities about musicians in general, and hi hop artists in particular.
About a year or so after we met Wu, they were scheduled to appear at a small club that was next door to the best record store in the city at the time, Soundwaves. By this time, the Wu movement was in full force, so anticipation for the show was pretty high. If I’m not mistaken, tickets were only $10, but I managed to get the hookup. Line was around the block. People piled in early to catch what was, for most of them, their first Wu show. Hip hop shows start notoriously late. Throughout the night the promoter would hype the crowd about Wu Tang “just getting in the limo from the airport” or “being on their way to the club”.
But by 11pm, people started getting antsy. I poked my nose around a bit and heard someone in the promoter’s camp backstage saying that the Wu had yet to board their flight in NY. Ouch. So I left, knowing that whatever followed would get ugly. Needless to say, they never showed. I don’t remember what excuse the promoter used, but people wanted blood.
A few years later, we opened for Wu in 35 degree weather at an outdoor venue in Austin (Stubb’s, for the curious). This would be our first real introduction to the level of fanaticism that artists can create. By this time, we’d become seasoned performers, and were comfortable with opening for well-known national artists. If I recall, we scheduled a relatively short set, probably no longer than 20 min. By the time we got to the third song, the crowd just started chanting “Wu-Tang-Wu-Tang” over our lyrics. We just kinda gave in and started chanting with them. Why fight it. (Note – missing from this show: Method Man, ODB).
A couple of years after that, we opened for Wu again in a highly anticipated show back in Houston. (Venue : T-Town, which was actually the same venue that ATCQ and co performed in a few years earlier, under a different name.) This was post – Wu Forever and a host of solo projects, so everybody was ready for a show to remember. We took what we learned from the Stubb’s performance and knew that we really had to seize the bull by the horns to keep the crowd on task. We did a little better – we made it to the last song before they started chanting. And that would be the last time that we would ever open for Wu. Mostly by choice. (Missing from this show: Meth, ODB, and possibly RZA).
For me, that was the third show in which the group performed with what I consider to be significant absences; understanding completely that they have a lot of moving parts, and it’s pretty difficult to keep everyone on board. But it made us resolve even more to deliver what people expected to see.
Our experiences with Wu – and with other artists that I might discuss in the future if time allows – taught us not to take anything for granted. Personally, my pride won’t allow me to feel like I’m mailing it in. Live shows might be the most important aspect of a musician’s career, and the absolute worst thing to me is to undervalue the benefit of going all-out in your performance.
Enough about Wu. Next, we’ll talk about some historical moves in 1994.