Story and Photos by Andy ArgyrakisAfter ten years in the business, 15 million records sold, and collaborations with The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is still plugging away on the road supporting its brand new Thug World Order CD. Having already been through Chicago once on the tour and considering the fact that the group is well past its prime (especially after the death of key member Easy E) a recent gig at Chicago's House of Blues didn't reach sell out capacity.
Unfortunately for those who did turn out for Bones' second time around, the group didn't hit the stage until three hours after the printed ticket time, subjecting all to a series of unbearable and indistinguishable opening acts. When members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony finally did take their place on stage just after midnight, the enthusiasm level sank from when everyone first arrived, and to make matters worse, the group was not even remotely prepared or interested in giving fans the show such patience deserved.
For those unfamiliar with the group, the basic formula for their studio driven sound is to have a DJ spin in the background while they rap/shout/scream to the beats, occasionally throwing in a hip-hop or rock sample. In concert, that recipe appeared incredibly artificial with each of the group's MC's consistently stumbling over one another and talking louder than the music itself. Whether touching on new cuts from Thug World Order or past hip-hop infused hits "First of the Month," "Days of Our Lives," and " Crossroads," the guys had absolutely no coordination or continuity with each other whatsoever. In between each song, members spoke to the crowd senselessly about everything from getting high to remembering the departed to shouting out repeatedly "What's up Chicago?" again stumbling over each other's sentences.
Even more absurd than such nonsense side conversations were the dozens of entourage members literally planted on every nook and cranny of the stage. These men did absolutely nothing expect stare into the crowd and gawk at the group members thinking they all looked really cool when in reality they were merely taking up space. There was one point in the show when the Bones' members sprayed water on the crowd and no less nine of the group's homeboys stepped into place to clean up the mess that landed on stage. (Two people at most were needed for the task, which not only made the sea of bodies look even sillier, but it got in the way of the primary performers). If only those caretakers could have only stepped in and pulled the plug before Bone Thug-N-Harmony launched into its latest single "Home," the crowd could have been spared members' sampling disgrace of Phil Collins' adult contemporary classic "Take Me Home." Not only did the beat of that '80s gem have absolutely nothing in common with their street savvy rapping, but the jumbled execution and excessive bass thumps were awkward and embarrassing. With a few more "What's up Chicago?" call outs and some unnecessary and incoherent freestyle rapping interludes, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony gave its encore less goodbyes for the evening in one of the biggest rip offs and poorest examples of translation from the studio to the stage in recent memory.
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