October 04, 2008

Music Review: Hammer Time for the Schools, Still Too Legitimate To Quit

We haven't been waiting for MC Hammer to stage a comeback, but his strange early performance at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco's huge Golden Gate Park, yesterday morning, at least lets us glimpse the man outside of the secret life of a washed-up celebrity & born-again minister. Billed as a "special educational program for local schools," after traveling two hours on trains & walking thru the disorienting mazes of Golden Gate park, I shouldn't have been surprised to see at least a thousand elementary school children waiting in anticipation around the Star Stage for an act, it could be argued, they were born to watch. The "general public", a far stranger scene (who can & would make it to see Stanley Kirk Burrell at 11:30am on a weekday?) was fenced off to keep us from dancing with the children. There were many middle-aged festival attendees who seemed a little confused at how hardly, strictly this wasn't bluegrass, some dreadlocks happy to dance to anything, & a spattering of some thirty-something white people in hammer pants who must materialize at these events from out of that vacant void, if they haven't been stalking him ever since. It was a short school-program-length'd set, no lighting (it was a humid cloudy day), & made perfect by the excellent dancing on stage & off. MC Hammer is about the same age as Barack Obama (if that puts anything in context, & if it does, I'm not sure why or how), but he has moves. And his backup dancers were all over the place, altho perhaps a tiny bit under-rehearsed. The highlight of the morning, & perhaps one of the great moments of human history, was when he brought about thirty kids onstage to dance with him on "2 Legit 2 Quit", & several of the kids had as little inhibition as an antarctic-dwelling flightless sea fowl has kitchen appliances. MC Hammer was in great spirits, you could tell he was having a blast, & apparently, he immediately told Warren Hellman (who buys the whole festival & puts in on for free) that he would be glad to come back next year. I'm headed over again right now, look for my blanket at the Banjo Stage.

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