Live Review: Freddie Gibbs at The Studio, Auckland

Freddie Gibbs Auckland Studio

When he calls himself Freddie “Gansta” Gibbs you better believe it.

I’ve seen a few rappers in my time, but none seem as thug as Freddie Gibbs.

Gibbs had a DJ providing backing beats, and was also joined onstage by two big black men from his entourage. These two men didn’t seem to have any musical role so I assume that they were bodyguards or security. They spent the whole time drinking and smoking. $10 says it wasn’t tobacco, either.

I swear every song ended with Gibbs saying “Give it up for this motherfucker” and the DJ making an obnoxious horn noise, followed by Gibbs starting the chants “Fuck the Po-lice” and “When I say ES, you say GN!” [Evil Seeds Grow Naturally, the name of Gibb’s début album and clothing label.]

Every. Single. Song.

The dude would give South Park a run for its money in a swearing competition. “Fuck the Police! Smoke yo weed!” he shouted. “Who gets high and shows up for work?” he asked. “That’s what I do!”

This was the first time I had attended a hip hop gig in Auckland. When I first walked into the venue I was impressed. It was nice and big with balconies running around the perimeter of the room. And air conditioning – something that most Wellington venues seriously need to work on.

Gibbs was advertised to start at 9.45pm. I was surprised then, to see a younger rapper come onstage at 10pm. Turns out it was Wellington based support act Name UL.

He did well. He worked the crowd up, as any good opener should. And the once he finished we waited.

And waited.

And waited. For over an hour. Any hype that Name UL had caused had long worn off.

When Gibbs finally came on stage he said “We don’t have much time for this shit so let’s get going”.

Gibbs then delivered a solid half hour set. His rhymes were tight and his delivery impeccable. The crowd was lapping it up. Many of the songs were from his most recent release, Pinata. Half of what he did was a Capella, making it more impressive in stark comparison.

Then Gibbs left the stage. The DJ started a song and Gibbs ran back to do a song. Then he left. Then he came back. It was very confusing. Was he hoping that we chant for an encore? Clearly I wasn’t the only one confused because the crowd was noticeably thinning.

The DJ proceeded to play about four songs while Gibbs watched from a balcony upstairs. Then Gibbs came down and started dancing. Then he left again.

Was he going to rap again? Why had Gibbs said that he was short on time? If he had enough time to dance around surely he had enough time to rap a few more songs? Is it over?

I showed up to the show around 9.30pm and left at 12.20am. I barely saw an hour’s worth of live rapping during that time. I don’t feel like I got $60 worth. I paid money to see a rapper perform. If I wanted to listen to recorded hip hop I would have played some through my own speakers at home.

There’s no denying Gibbs has talent. He spits lyrics as well as the rest of them. But maybe if he had spent more time onstage instead of making me wait while he smoked weed I would have left with a more favourable opinion of him.