Tone Loc @ Martini RanchBy Ricardo Baca | January 21st, 2008 | 4 comments
Tone Loc brought his trademark dark shades and deep voice to the Martini Ranch on Friday for a short, lackluster set. Photos by Doug Beam.
Remember those scenes in “Sid & Nancy” where Sid Vicious is trying to forge a solo career in New York City right after the Sex Pistols’ inevitable implosion? Remember those scenes of Vicious on stage at Max’s Kansas City, fumbling his way through failed sets with hardly a clue of how off his performance is — so incredibly alone and past his prime?
Seeing Tone Loc at Martini Ranch on Friday night was a lot like that — sans the heroin and leather jackets, natch.
Actually calling Tone Loc past his prime is even more ridiculous than saying the same thing about Vicious and his punk rock buddies. Sure, the Pistols’ flame was brief, but it was bright and eternal in the way that it will always be felt and heard. Tone Loc, on the other hand, was a jokey hip-hopper who came along the right time, getting lucky and scoring a couple No. 1 hits along the way.
As a kid plodding through middle school in the late-’80s, I was right in the middle of the Tone Loc craze. I remember a friend showing off his “Funky Cold Medina” seven-inch at his locker between wood shop and language arts. It was the jam then, and judging from Loc’s lackluster mini-performance at Martini Ranch’s third birthday party, the song carries little weight now.
Loc, like so many other kitsch-vintage performers on the B-rate, rent-a-musician circuit, doesn’t get paid to come to town and play a full set of material, per se. He gets paid to come in and get the crowd riled up, “sing” a couple hits and encourage the fans to drink (and tip) plentifully. And that’s exactly what he did. (Lesson learned, again: People are easily entertained.)
A rough recount of Loc’s “show” on Friday: He started on stage with a DJ and a sideman, riffing (poorly) off “Rappers Delight.” Then he rocked an elongated “Funky Cold Medina,” wearing a black T-shirt and a white baseball cap and flanked on each side by scantily clad dancer ladies.
Track No. 3 was something of a riff on “I Shot the Sheriff,” and the fourth had some fun with an old AC/DC song. Somewhere in the sweaty mess was “Wild Thing,” but neither of the MC’s hit songs nailed the massive crowd as hard as the “American Idol”-aping contest Loc staged in the middle of his weak set.
Yep, in the middle of the four or five songs Loc laid down, he invited five contestants on the stage to dance, rap or sing — and the winner would get a crisp $100 bill out of Loc’s pocket. It was like a “Girls Gone Wild” audition in the suburbs of Greeley — nothing against Greeley — and the audience ate it up like a cheap sheetcake at an office party.
Between the lame “Idol” rip-off and a “this-side’s-louder-that-that-side” contest, this was obviously a show purely for the intellectuals. In truth, Loc knows what an audience wants. They want nostalgia. But cut-rate nostalgia only goes so far, and had he tried to perform an all-music set for 45 minutes, he would have lost people two songs in.
The organization at the club was also a little off. After Loc’s short set downstairs, the DJ moved upstairs to keep the party rolling … only he took his sweet time managing the stairs. After 10 minutes of silence, the music came back over the PA — but if 10 minutes of silence in a LoDo bar after midnight isn’t a buzzkill, I don’t know what is.
All photos by Doug Beam.