GZA and Killer Mike at Summit, 9/22/12

Categories: Concert Reviews

All photos by Elyse Mitchell.
Killer Mike at the Summit last night.


"I don't have a hypeman, so you're my hype man," Killer Mike tells the crowd two songs into his set. "So get hype, motherfuckers." The crowd is more than happy to comply. Opening with the first three songs from his new album, the emcee emits a raw energy on stage that could keeps the crowd hyped over songs like "Dear Lord" and later "Reagan," which he introduced with a diatribe about the socioeconomics of the war on drugs.

The crowd gave that energy right back, bouncing and bucking along with Bonecrusher's Southern club anthem "Never Scared," on which Mike featured, and then swaying along at the end of "Ric Flair" as DJ Trackstar dropped the Phoenix Express tune "You Make My Life a Sunny Day," which is the origin of the beat's smooth horn and vocal sample.

Killer Mike at the Summit last night.

"I'm having the time of my life. I wanna appreciate y'all," he told the crowd. "And to all the ladies dating video game players and hip-hop fans, it can be boring sometimes, so I appreciate y'all." The aside was partly in appreciation of Trackstar's girlfriend, Camille, whose birthday is today. The DJ called her on the phone, and the crowd wished her a happy birthday. It got downright family-like.

Maybe it's because Killer Mike has a new album, R.A.P. Music, that improved the relatively young audience's familiarity, or maybe the crowd was a little too stoned by the time GZA came on stage around midnight, but the Genius did not seem as connected with the audience. Before his set started, he gave himself an introduction of sorts from off stage. "I'm like the Wizard of Oz. I'm here to give you courage. To give you a heart. To give you a brain."

Despite what seemed like unnecessarily long breaks between sets for the four-act bill, the crowd seemed excited: Chants of "Wu-Tang" and "RIP ODB" had already broken out spontaneously. But, after opening with "Duel of the Iron Mics," and "Living in the World Today," GZA wasn't feeling a couple of people in the front row, so rather than deliver upon his all of his wizardly promises, he gave them a hard time.

GZA at the Summit last night.

The tour is being billed as GZA performing his classic album, Liquid Swords,though most of those in the front row looked like they were born the year it dropped (1995). After two decades of crowds packed with Wu-Tang devotees, the audience in the Summit wasn't giving him the energy he was looking for, apparently. Trying to incite them, he told everyone they seem like they're from Aspen. "Y'all are some laidback motherfuckers."

While the crowd connected with familiar anthems like "Liquid Swords," which he saved for fourth, even though the title track is the album's first song, everyone under the age of thirty lost a step on cuts like "Cold World" and "Labels." GZA appeared perturbed that the crowd wasn't as in tune as it should have been.

During one exchange, he asked a kid how old he was, and how familiar he is with Wu-Tang lyrics. The kid replied that he was seventeen, didn't know all the words, and that his dad put him onto Wu-Tang. GZA seems pleased enough with the answer. "We don't just have fans that grew up with us," he said. "We have their children."

Later in the show, he asked another guy whether he'd like to get on the mike to see if he could do a better job. He told the kid that if the crowd booed his effort, then he'd have to leave the show. The aside then escalated to the kid actually getting the mike and attempting to tell a joke about two cannibals eating a clown. The kid was allowed to stay, despite the joke not going over too well.

Continue for more details and a Critic's Notebook.

Location Info


Summit Music Hall

1902 Blake St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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