Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Yelawolf at Revolution

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Yelawolf Revolution Little Rock image
  • Nicholas Pippins

Stepping into the venue at the tail end of opening act Arkatext's set, the crowd was vast and teeming, certainly more plentiful than you would expect for a Sunday night. Perhaps this was due to the 18-plus door status, because it seemed like quite a lot young kids. I haven't seen Revolution that crowded in ages.

There were the usual suspects one might find at a white-rapper concert: a young tanned girl in a nonexistent skirt and furry boots grinding devoutly against a man with a shaved head and tattoos for eyebrows, at least two resident Juggalos and one bewildered-looking sliver-haired gentleman in a baseball cap who was probably a chaperone.

Epiphany took the stage to emcee between sets — asking the crowd where they were from, joking with a stray island of Alabamians (Yelawolf's home state, and mine) as the crowd bellowed at them. After calling the hogs a few times, almost apologetically, Epiphany lead everyone in a chant of "YEL-A-WOLF" until the man himself leapt up onstage, wearing a fedora, gradient-tinted sunglasses, and black bomber jacket, as if in disguise.

As is customary with Alabama musicians, Yelawolf performed a few antics with a bottle of Jack Daniels. He announced, "Cheers, motherfucker!" and chugged from it; he took a huge gulp and flicked off the audience righteously, at the beginning of his party anthem "Good to Go" he turned the bottle upside down and released the whiskey in a golden spray onto the stage.

Yelawolf is a classic-styled Southern rapper — he's in love with those sixteenth-note hi-hats and simple tracks and fat beats. He's not a rapper preoccupied with elaborate presentation; he has a really fast, decisive flow like Tech N9ne or Mystikal. After the third song, he removed his sunglasses and proceeded to freestyle until his eyeballs puffed out like Ray Liotta in the car chase scene in Goodfellas. He's a charmer, mostly because he engages the audience like comrades ("Y'all look like some of my homies!"), smiles his brilliant Elvis smile, and even hands out gifts, like when he produced what appeared
to be a blunt from his jacket, held it up like a precious jewel, and threw it into the crowd below. What a rad guy.

He stayed away from repping Alabama in any divisive way (than it already appeared in his lyrics). In one slightly schlocky move, he lead the crowd in a tour of his influences, almost in a Branson-style medley ranging from The Doors, Johnny Cash, NWA, Metallica, Outkast (whose clip of "B.O.B." garnered the heartiest singalong), and finishing with Lynyrd Skynyrd. While this move seemed a bit cheesy and irksome, it ultimately served to unite the many disparate demographics Yelawolf's music touches, and, as made clear by the Outkast chant, we realized we had enough in common to go on peacefully.

And that was the most noteworthy thing — it was easily the most integrated show I've ever attended in Little Rock, and while the kids were drunk and the windows were steamy and the noxious smell of Jagermiester and surreptitiously smoked cigarettes was thick in the air, the mood was over all celebratory. Yelawolf’s songs weren't offensive or scathing or anything other than fun, swaggering party anthems. And there's nothing wrong with a party.

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