So maybe I did get a little cocky the other night, telling people I was going to the Common album release party in Manhattan, somewhere below ground in an Upper West Side swank club you needed to know somebody and be on the guest list and offer a bid for Barack Obama’s senate seat to get into. Of course, I don’t actually know anyone, except for Jeff Vrabel in this case, who knows many, many people, including some who still send him invites to album release parties in Manhattan in case he wanted to fly the supersonic jet he owns (thanks to that newspaper salary) to get there from South Carolina in a few hours.
The e-mail he forwarded me said the doors opened at 9, Common would perform at 10:30. I was going by myself since they removed all the plus ones from the list (sorry Barry!) due to the huge interest, so I arrived at the fashionable mid-range time of 9:50. The place was bumping with Hot 97 banners here and there. Some dude wearing a standard Okayplayer fan outfit walked up to me and leaned in to say something.
“Am I supposed to get you a wrist band?” he asked.
“Huh?” I said. He pulled back and looked at me.
“Aren’t you here with Theo?”
“Oh. I thought you were …..uh … you look like this other guy.”
That’s right, I thought. All white people look alike.
The guy ended up helping me get a free drink from the bar anyway. Just as he got to the bartender, the guy on the mike announced that the event was over. “Sorry y’all, we all got early planes to catch in the morning.”
The free drink service had also ended. I did some reporting and it turns out Common did a little performance starting at about 9:30, making this probably the first time in history a hip hop show has started earlier than scheduled (hear that, Kanye?). Then he rolled out. I guess I probably caught maybe the end of the performance when I first walked in but didn’t even realize it. The album, Universal Mind Control, is getting slammed in reviews anyway.
I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed. But I guess it’s a pretty big concession to remember that at Coachella in 2006, Common was the surprise guest who came on stage with Black Star as the three of them played way past the midnight curfew and Mos kept telling Common he would have to pitch in because they were going to pay the fine.
“Wait, how much is the fine?” Common asked, possibly not joking. Then he pulled like $5 out of his wallet.
It was cool to be there at least, even if it was kind of a bummer that I didn’t make it in time for the performance. I thought of something though — it’s lame to see a musician in the crowd at a concert but not actually see them perform. But who is it cool to see in the crowd at a show? Actors! Blah to Common the rapper but OH MY GOD LOOK OVER THERE IT’S GREEN LANTERN!!
Or maybe I just didn’t play my cards right.