Yesterday (September 8), Rock the Bells ended the first of its four weekend-long festivals set to take place this year. After Day 1, which featured Black Hippy, Kid Cudi and an Eazy-E hologram accompanying Bone thugs-n-harmony's performance, Day 2 included sets by various acts, including Juicy J, J. Cole and a disjointed performance from Wu-Tang Clan, which also included a hologram of Ol' Dirty Bastard.
Wu-Tang Clan's set featured several shortcomings, from missing members and technical malfunctions to a tirade from Method Man. Ghostface Killah and Raekwon were absent from the performance, and no explanation was given regarding their whereabouts. As for the performance itself, the music backing the group was cut-off abruptly during Wu's set. When this happened, group members including Method Man began engaging in call-and-response chants with the audience. Method Man then improvised with a few freestyles. "Music is cut off and we still trying to put a show on for y'all," Method Man said on stage.
Method Man soon became upset. "Two more minutes and I'm walking the fuck up outta here, hologram or not, nigga," he said. "I'm tired of this shit. I swear, on everything I love. This shit don't happen at Rock & Roll concerts, man...No, it don't. I'm tired of this shit."
Music came on soon after. "Act like that shit ain't happened," Method Man said.
However, technical difficulties would continue. While Method Man was rapping, the music changed tempos. "I'm done with the fuckin' music speedin' up and slowin' down and speedin' up," he said, before directing comments at Guerilla Union's Chang Weisberg, the festival's organizer. "Chang, this some bullshit, Chang," Method Man said. "I'm letting you know...Fuck that."
RZA then spoke about the festival's 10 years, explaining Wu-Tang Clan's involvement from the beginning. RZA praised the tradition of Rock the Bells and explained the challenges the group was facing on stage. "We are having some technical difficulties because we got a real special shit hooked up in here," he said. "Rock the Bells been rockin' for 10 years. 10 years ago, the entire Wu-Tang Clan blessed this stage. That started the whole Rock the Bells tradition."
Those technical difficulties appeared to continue as RZA asked the crowd to chant for Ol' Dirty Bastard's hologram to appear on stage. After a few attempts, the hologram did not appear. When the hologram eventually appeared, audience members were able to see the virtual performances of "Shame on a Nigga" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," the latter of which was performed with Young Dirty Bastard, one of Ol' Dirty Bastard's sons, who was also involved in the creation of the virtual-performance.
Adding to the disarray of the performance, RZA also referred to the event as Coachella, the name of another prominent music festival.
Before ending Wu-Tang Clan's set, Method Man made a vow to the crowd. "Once again, y'all, we'd like to thank everybody for celebrating our twentieth anniversary with us," Method Man said. "I wish Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface could have been here to see this shit. Also, regardless of the technical difficulties, y'all showed a lot of heart by sticking around and I respect y'all for that. I promise you, you will never see a fuckin' show like this again from us. Trust me."
Rock The Bells Addresses Technical Difficulties Of Wu-Tang Clan's Performance
Guerilla Union's Chang Weisberg addressed the matter with an exclusive statement to HipHopDX.
"Unfortunately, the audio problems with Wu-Tang's set last night were the result of an equipment failure," Weisberg said in an exclusive statement to HipHopDX. "[Wu-Tang Clan deejay, Mathematics'] computer crashed in the middle of their performance. Fortunately, the scheduled holographic return of ODB was able to buy enough time for Mathematics to re-boot his computer and finish the show. No one is more disappointed than myself and Wu-Tang Clan that this happened because we all wanted this to be their crowning moment and pay homage to ODB and his family.
"It's Hip Hop," Weisberg continued. "Sometimes you gotta fight through unexpected challenges and we are all motivated to make next week's Wu-Tang Clan performance the best ever."
Weisberg also addressed how members of Wu-Tang Clan and ODB's estate responded to the technical difficulties at the event.
"I spoke with several members of Wu-Tang after the show and the family of ODB's estate," Weisberg said. "They were all supportive and appreciative for our efforts to mitigate the audio issues and deliver the historic virtual performance. In a way, ODB's prolific return saved the day. My heart goes out to DJ Mathematics, who had to deal with a faulty computer during the set. He's always been the glue for Wu-Tang shows and we all know redemption is only a week away."
IMAGE BY TIM MOSENFELDER/GETTY IMAGES