TVD Live Shots: Public Enemy at the Dell Music Center, 8/14

Having been to a few live hip hop shows, I don’t have much desire to see more. There’s a DJ not doing much, one or two rappers, and maybe a hype man. So even if the music sounds good, the shows are usually really boring. Public Enemy defies these norms. Their live show is electric, politically-charged, and visually very entertaining.

There’s so much happening onstage that it’s hard to know where to look. The S1Ws moving in unison, posing militaristically and periodically doing push-ups, DJ Lord spinning from on high, live guitar, bass, and drums, Professor Griff prowling the stage with his customary stern glare, Flavor Flav being goofy and wild cementing his reputation as the greatest hype man ever, and Chuck D bouncing around, swinging his mic like a bat, all the while commanding the stage like the hip hop preacher the world still greatly needs. At one point he reminded the crowd that Pennsylvania is spending more money on prisons than education. Angry boos followed.

For all the gravity of the politically charged show, Flav closed the show with a message of love. He encouraged the crowd to raise their hands and first make the sign of peace and then make a fist. “This stands for peace and togetherness. Make a fist like this, this stands for power. With peace and togetherness, we will all have so much power. If we all stuck together and built a wall of unity, it would be so strong, no others could drop in and tear down what we got.”

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