Perhaps some pre-show time with Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings put Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco in a feisty mood, as the MC got out of his car with a limp in the back of the Harley-Davidson stage, but performed with exhaustive energy for 90 minutes on the opening night of Summerfest.
Fiasco played songs from all three of his studio releases – "Food & Liquor," "The Cool" and "Lasers" – and only teased the crowd with singles off his upcoming "Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album."
Late in the show, he asked the crowd which song they wanted of the two, and as the crowd roared at each mention, he instead broke into "Superstar," his hit off "The Cool."
The MC seemed to feed off the crowd's energy as the show went on – especially once early sound problems were rectified – as they took care of the hooks for the songs that needed it. He smiled frequently, with none bigger than the one he wore as the predominantly Caucasian audience drowned out the bass as soon as the beat for "All Black Everything" started.
"Sometimes we only see what's on the surface," he said to the crowd after the song. "Sometimes we only see a color. We don't see what's in here."
He then pounded his chest to heavy applause.
Some highlights in the show included his verse on Kanye West's "Touch the Sky", a cameo on West's 2006 release "Late Registration" that introduced Fiasco to the world prior to "Food & Liquor's" release.
He and his live band brought a rock energy to "Kick, Push," "Out Of My Head" and "Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)," which most likely included the best guitar solo of the night anywhere on Summerfest grounds.
Fiasco, playing his third Summerfest, often interacted with the crowd to give himself a breather, but late in the show, someone who tossed a New York Knicks hat on the stage created the strongest Fiasco-Milwaukee bond of the night.
"Who's hat is this?" he shouted.
Incredibly, someone claimed it stage right, so he set the hat on a speaker and turned his attention there. "We have no love for the Knicks here. No love, my man."
As he peeled off his sweat soaked striped tank top, someone tossed a Brewers hat to him, which he put on briefly before retrieving a Jennings jersey from off stage.
"Midwest, man," he said as the crowd exploded. "We don't f*** with the Knicks like that. Tell 'em I said it."
Fiasco played off the roar into "Daydreamin,'" his Grammy-winning hit off of "Food & Liquor."
Oddly, he played the fast paced "I don't Wanna Care Right Now" twice – as the show's third song and then as its closer – but true to the title, no one seemed to care. In fact, it was received far better and with more energy than before.
Despite the pleading from the crowd to break into the two singles off his upcoming album, Fiasco avoided new material and played every hit off his first two records and nearly every track off "Lasers."
You couldn't ask for more as a music fan, as the band and Fiasco's vocals were sharp. His lyrics will make you think, but he proved that even thoughtful songs – and fans – can bring the house down.
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