A little over a week ago I went to the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square for Peterpalooza 3. Peterpalooza is an annual concert/birthday party for Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg. This year’s line up featured Chris Rivers, Retch and Ab-Soul, with Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Schoolboy Q headlining. Joell Ortiz, Vic Mensa, and G-Eazy each came out and performed a song as well. My original plan was to write this review immediately after the show but between sacrificing my phone to Danny Brown, getting my camera confiscated and coming home drunk as hell I decided it would be better to let the show marinate a bit before writing it up.
Chris Rivers, son of the late legend Big Pun, was the first to perform. He had a solid stage presence and brought a lot of energy to his set. This was the first time I heard his music (I’m willing to assume the same for most of the crowd) but that didn’t slow him down. He got the crowd involved with big beats and catchy hooks. At one point he had us all singing along with “I got my weed, I got my bitches, I got my gun!” Rivers’ set was short – just three songs – but he brought good energy and got the crowd involved. I’ll definitely be checking out his stuff in the future.
Retch came on next. I didn’t know too much about this guy going into the show other than that he reps NJ (!!) and I still don’t know much afterward. He had some heavy beats and a cool flow, but that was about it. He mumbled a lot of his verses and he didn’t get the crowd into it – people were actually trying to talk over him. From what I heard he sounds like he might be able to make a hot track or two but until he improves on stage he’s probably better off as a feature rapper rather than a live one.
Pete Rosenberg came out and addressed the crowd for a bit, thanking everyone for coming, telling us all to have a good time, applause for the DJ, all that kind of stuff, before calling out Joell Ortiz. Ortiz, by far the best unscheduled guest, sang his verse from the Slaughterhouse song “Hammer Dance.” He got the crowd jumping and ready for Ab-Soul.
Ab-Soul was dope. The crowd was hype as hell for anything TDE so people were jumping around when it was only his hype man on the stage. When Soul got on they lost it. He had a pretty long set, playing cuts from Control System and These Days. He brought Danny Brown out for “Terrorist Threats” and understandably, everybody went nuts. Ab-Soul really had the crowd on his side and his set was a lot of fun. My only complaint is that instead of closing with “Illuminate,” which had everybody bouncing and rapping along with the lyrics, he finished with a song that not too many people knew and all the energy he built up with “Illuminate” just went right out of the crowd. The crowd wasn’t down for long – Danny Brown was on next. His set was the deepest (and longest) of the headliners. He played a bunch of tracks from Old but we also got to hear a bunch of earlier tracks too. He was one of my favorites for sure. At one point, (can’t remember which song it was in – it happened more than once) he got a bunch of people joshing together. During the fray I unfortunately sacrificed my phone to the Rap Gods by way of their prophet Danny Brown (yet another reason I don’t have any pictures to go along with this review – the other is that they took my camera from me at the door. No photography.) Despite that low moment, his set was incredible. Awesome energy and he left everybody on a high note.
When Danny stepped off the stage the crowd was roaring. Bronson, Bronson! chants started as soon as stopped rapping. Rosenberg came back out, did his thing for a bit, then brought out two more guests.
The first was Vic Mensa. I’m not too familiar with his music but I’ve heard good things about him from my friends. He looked genuinely excited to be on the stage, which was cool to see. He only played one song, but he was bouncing around on stage and the hook was catchy. By the end of the song the crowd was shouting, “I feel that!” right with him.
Vic Mensa leaves the stage. Bronson chants recommence. Rosenberg comes out again; this time he calls out G-Eazy. I’d never heard of him and judging from the crowd’s reaction, most of them hadn’t either. Part of me feels bad for this guy, but a lot of me doesn’t. He was dressed like some kind of bad rap villain. He played one song and it didn’t go over well with the crowd. It wasn’t entirely his fault – it was getting late and people wanted to see Bronson and Schoolboy, not some kid they’d never heard of before. A couple Bronson chants broke out while he was still rapping. Like I said, I feel bad for the guy because it sounded like he could actually spit. He just didn’t bring the right kind of energy.
Action Bronson finally hit the stage. The crowd went wild. The TDE acts have a larger national presence but inside that theatre you wouldn’t know it. Bronson was the man that night. He fed off the crowd’s energy like Goku charging up a Spirit Bomb, except it happened in minutes instead of 24 episodes. By the end of the first song Bronson was covered in sweat and his shirt was ruined. By the third or fourth he was wilding in the crowd, climbing over railings to get into VIP and rapping from there. Bronson had his own guests, too. He had the Alchemist spinning, PartySupplies playing guitar, and he brought out another rapper whose name for the life of me I cannot remember. About halfway through his set he cut off the beat and started freestyling. He told all the rappers in the back to come out and have a cipher with him. We knew who was in the back so naturally we were excited. Unfortunately, nobody came out to answer his call. Action Bronson brought it. He finished his set to chants of “he’s a hero in his hometown, baby.”
Rosenberg came out one more time, then, finally, Schoolboy Q hit the stage. Q handles the stage well. He was cracking jokes at Rosenberg, talking shit to Ab-Soul, just having a good time. He jumped right into his set.. His second song was “Hands on the Wheel” and the crowd exploded. Bouncing, rapping every word – the energy was great. He moved into Oxymoron cuts. “Gangster, Gangster,” “Studio,” and “Break the Bank.” When he got to “Collard Greens” the crowd rapped Kendrick’s entire verse. People lost their shit to “Man of the Year.”
I won’t say I was disappointed with Schoolboy’s set – it was short and he played mostly just Oxymoron singles (I would’ve loved some tracks from Habits & Contradictions. “Sacrilegious” and “There He Go” would’ve been very cool). Despite that his set was easily the most fun. Everybody in the crowd, myself included, lost their minds during his performance. Nobody was too cool to jump around and rap along to the songs. The crowd was full of fans – it was awesome.
Peter Rosenberg knows how to put a show together. The line up was great, they fit well together and each of them brought tons of energy to the stage. This was the third annual Peterpalooza and if this year was any indicator, next year’s show is going to be sick. I’m definitely going to try and make it if I’m in town.