By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jul 06, 2006 at 10:52 PM
I can’t remember the last time I saw a Summerfest show start an hour late, but the lengthy delay before Thursday’s Digital Underground concert set the stage for a scattered and hectic, but still thoroughly enjoyable, performance by the “original freaks of the industry.”

It wasn’t just the sampled hooks that evoked memories of a George Clinton concert -- the Underground, led by Shock G (aka Humpty Hump) were all over the place -- but mostly in a good way. Just like the slow-building pace of a Parliament show, it took the Underground a little while to get going -- but by the end of their set, they were in full stride.

The group floated between their old hits, like “Gut Fest ’89,” “The Humpty Dance,” “Kiss You Back” and “Doowutchyalike” – but also spent a fair amount of time joking with the audience, showcasing their talented Milwaukee DJ, DJ Nu-Stylez, and letting a few other rappers freestyle a bit.

Shock G was flamboyant and full of energy as ever -- sporting purple pants and an airbrushed Humpty t-shirt. Money-B dressed more sedately, but together, the two rappers hardly missed a beat as they laid it down old-school.

A few technical problems marred the performance, especially as Shock G sat down at the keyboard to sing a tribute to former band mate Tupac Shakur.  Even Shock G couldn’t stand the fuzzy distortion coming from the instrument, and looked uncomfortable toward the end of the set.

And perhaps because of the late start, the group only played for about 40 minutes (and unfortunately didn’t play my two favorites tunes).  But they certainly went out with a bang with the racy “Freaks of the Industry” off their 1990 debut album “Sex Packets.”

I’m not sure if Summerfest is a great venue for this original hip hop funk party band, but their Milwaukee connections ensure the group will be back soon. Hopefully the distractions will be gone next time, and they can turn an already high-energy concert into an even better experience.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.