Whenever rap goes up against go-go at arena concerts, go-go music invariably wins. There's just no way that a couple of rappers singing over prerecorded music can match the excitement generated by a 10-piece go-go band playing all the way live. Friday night's "Summer Fun '87" concert at the Capital Centre was the perfect example.
When rapper King Sun (of King Sun-D Moet) took the stage, he said, "Please don't mistake me for L.L. Cool J." It is unlikely that anyone did. You could almost see smoke rising from deejay D Moet's turntable, but emcee King wasn't up to par. But he warmed up for "Mythological" and sounded much better on "Hey Love," rapping over a haunting synth melody.
The local Junkyard Band followed, playing bare-bones go-go in miniature. When the band members performed an interpretation of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" (recently covered by Club Nouveau), they exposed many of their own weaknesses. They were slack-toned and noisy, vocally awful, but they recouped to sound much better on "Sardines."
Next up was a miserable outfit called Scott & Raven, a watered-down imitation of Rick James. Despite their outlandish getups, fancy moves and absurdly contrived theatrics they were booed repeatedly, and they deserved it. Only the visually oriented and tone-deaf MTV generation could spawn such an awful entity. Also disappointing was D.C. Scorpio, whose unusual blending of rap and go-go styles didn't sound too good live. During "Stone Cold Hustler," you could barely hear his rap, and the melody was indistinguishable, odd because the record was playing.
Things brightened considerably with heavy D & the Boyz, whose brief set included "Chunky but Funky" and their hit version of "Mr. Big Stuff." They were followed by Experience Unlimited, who pumped up the crowd with its usual verve. But it wasn't until after a slow ballad (a cover of Prince's "I Adore You") that EU really warmed up, playing the Caribbean flavored "Go-go Juju" and a funky adaptation of "Here Comes Peter Cottontail."
Closing the show was female rap team Salt and Pepa, who tried to prove that they could rap with the guys by using lots of gratuitous profanity. With all the smut of the Beastie Boys but little of their humor, Salt and Pepa did best when they stopped babbling long enough to perform their hit "My Mike Sounds Nice." It was almost worth the long, long wait.