Rant Warning: I rarely go to public events these days but, when I do, it’s because I believe the experience will be worth it. I love spoken word and poetry slams so I was thrilled when I saw my beloved Luka Lesson was performing at Miami Marketta on Sunday.
The first half of the afternoon was brilliant… a poetry slam that included performances that moved me to tears. For me, the beauty of the spoken word is that it’s spacious enough to highlight subtle nuance, spontaneous inflection and offbeat rhythm. The words themselves may be memorized but the performer draws the focus and the words become punctuated by a rich silence. Conditions that usually serve to evoke a rawness and vulnerability often desecrated by a contrived and polished production.
You can imagine my surprise when Luka appeared on stage with a back up BAND!! He commanded the audience to stand and move forward and like good ‘sheeple’, most complied. It took me a few moments to assimilate what was happening. Partly because this was so unexpected and partly due to enjoying a rare glass of pinot.
In the style of a rock concert, the lights flashed for dramatic effect as the drummer fired up. Before I knew it, and against my better judgement, my body was moving… I started swaying and tapping my feet to the beat…
I turned to look at my friends who were sitting there with equal confusion. We thought maybe this audacious display was just a one off to ‘mix things up a bit’?
Alas, this was not the case, as the show continued in the same vein, one (poem?) after another. None of us could make out the words he was attempting to rap, let alone grasp the context. The sexiness and potency of his once raw and unadulterated passion drowned out by the loud drum beat and coerced into conformity with the tempo.
The result was a sensationalized, homogenized and ultimately indigestible product that left us with no choice but to stand up and leave in protest. We headed straight to the bar where the very ‘flirt-worthy’ bar guy asked “if everything was ok?” Of course I expressed myself (possibly a little passionately for effect), about the atrocity I had just witnessed. A woman standing beside me interrupted and reprimanded me for ‘dissing’ the Messiah! That was the last straw.. After telling her that Mr Lesson’s egoic display and her unsolicited opinion was NOT what I paid for, I smiled sweetly at the bar guy, put my glass on the bar and left.
It seems it’s a rare human who can gracefully step into growing popularity while still maintaining the integrity of their art. Just sayin’.