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The Summer Jam Moment Is Dead

The very first concert I ever attended was 92.3 The Beat’s (for all my Los Angeles heads) Summer Jam concert maybe 10 years ago (I can’t exactly remember when). To this day I consider it one of my favorite concert moments, and when the special, “secret” guests performed – OutKast together, shortly before their breakup/hiatus/whatever they’re calling it these days – the entire crowd got to their feet and roared in ecstatic excitement, myself included.

When I used to live in Los Angeles, reading about, seeing pictures or watching footage of New York’s Summer Jam always intrigued me, as they fed into that intoxicating allure that the Big Apple was the Mecca of all things hip hop. Whether it was Jay-Z bringing out Michael Jackson on stage before inventing the “Summer Jam moment” by promptly dismembering Prodigy’s career in ways he’s still never recovered from, or the Diplomats having to replace Nas the following year amidst rumors he had planned on burning Jay in effigy, Summer Jam was the concert to check out for. Hell, it was part of the reason I wanted to move to New York.

Lately, however, that spark has dimmed rather significantly over the years, so much so to the point that I wonder if even the ideal of the summer concert itself is the same anymore. The core of the concert – the lineup – has lost that allure to me, but it’s probably because all of the artists I’d want to see in concert are either dead (save for random-ass Hispanic impersonators), old (I’d rather not see a Beatnuts set at this point in my life) or crazy (oh hai KRS-One). Age can prove to be a gift and a curse sometimes.

Since I’m on that topic, I do believe that one such reason could be the age factor. As we get older, lots of things that used to be fresh and innovative in its younger days doesn’t hold the same weight some five-plus years later. It was an amazing thing to see the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan at Rock The Bells in 2004, even if it would ultimately turn out to be one of the final times all nine of them would be in concert together. Now, a few years later, that energy ODB had is sorely missing, and while trying to replace him with one of his many kids is a consolation prize of sorts… well, who really cares about seeing one of Dirty’s thirteen children rap his old verses instead of Dirty himself?

Perhaps the concert has been losing to its little sibling, the free show (or, “free” if you know the proper channels), as well. Since I’ve moved out east I’ve attended more concerts than ever before and seen my fair share of performances from some of my favorite artists without so much as having to spend money on a cab ride home. So, why would I want to drop thrice that to spend a entire day surrounded by blistering heat, immature teenagers and expensive concession stand accoutrements at a venue where I can’t even see what’s going on stage unless I look at a giant monitor or wait for the footage to get sent to my inbox later that night?

You may not believe it, but there will likely never be another “Summer Jam screen” moment happening any time soon, unless it is something short of shocking. But there’s already some rock group that used to get a couple have sex on stage, so it’s gotta be crazier than that.

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