North Coast Fest, Sunday: Wu-Tang Clan review and photos
By now, we all know that Wu-Tang Clan aint nuttin ta fuck wit. North Coast Music Festival attendees learned that Mother Nature should not be trifled with either, when some nasty weather cut short the group's headlining show on Sunday night. With RZA providing the beats, the East Coast hip-hop collective brought the ruckus, gathering for an abbreviated set that gave fans plenty of opportunities to throw up their Ws before the festival grounds were evacuated.
The set was billed as a performance of the group's seminal debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), but it was by no means a track-for-track rendering, opting to touch upon some of the record's best moments while leaving room for deviation. Shuffling across the stage, the middle-aged rappers shouted their way through abridged versions of "Shame on a Nigga" and "Clan in da Front" quickly establishing a hierarchy within the Wu ranks. The ever-reliable GZA and Ghostface Killah showcased their lyrical dexterity, effortlessly recreating verses they penned 20 years ago.
But it was former sitcom star Method Man who delivered some of the night's best (and most animated) performances, including a rendition of his eponymous track that culminated with the MC diving into the crowd. The evening also wasn't without some awkward moments—the late Ol' Dirty Bastard's piped-in verse during "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" and the National Weather Service announcements that signaled the set's abrupt end—but it succeeded in giving a bunch of sweaty kids a venue to scream along to some of their favorite Wu-Tang tracks.
Few people seemed to notice the omission of songs like "Can It Be So Simple" or "7th Chamber" and no one complained when the group burst into a raucous version of "Reunited" from its 1997 release Wu-Tang Forever. Over the course of a 45-minute set, Wu-Tang Clan demonstrated why the influence of 36 Chambers' crackling soul samples, uninhibited profanity and violent imagery still looms large in modern hip-hop. It's a visceral combination that attracts even the most casual rap fan and sells "C.R.E.A.M." t-shirts. The Staten Island collective cracked the code two decades ago—you can't begrudge them a victory lap.