KUBE 93 Summer Jam 2014
Review, photos and videos by thenaturalstoner
I appreciate what Seattle’s KUBE 93 radio tried to do at the Gorge Amphitheatre this past weekend, however I am not quite sure this years Summer Jam worked out to its full potential. Moving the annual event to a two day format seemed to make some initial sense, you could book some old school rappers to fill out a classic Friday night and then bring out young guns for day two and (in theory) sell a bunch of weekend passes. What actually happened was another story. Most fans fell into two camps: Those who were there for Friday nights old school throw down, or the college kids coming Saturday to see Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean and others (Rick Ross, B.o.B and Chris Brown too, although they weren’t able to make it for various reasons). Not very many people actually stayed for both nights, which resulted in two days of half full crowds at the Gorge. While this was convenient when wanting to use a clean port-a-potty or get a $13 beer, as there were no lines and minimal waste to contend with, this was easily the emptiest I have ever seen the Gorge or its campground(s) and energy was lacking at times. The wide-open heat was something to contend with as well.
What went down on stage WAS mostly good, so I am very happy to have gone and would definitely go back. But this event was not the “jam packed raging” Gorge Amphitheatre we all know and love. That said, there were certainly many highlights from the two days. Here is my ranking of what I saw, from best to worst.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – The clear winners of the weekend for those of us there for Summer Jam ‘Classic’. Right from the start the fellas from Cleveland owned the stage with massive energy and blazing rhymes. I honestly did not expect to like this set nearly as much as I did, but it was super. I would rank this in the top three hip hop shows that I have seen, and would go see them again any time. From all their hits, including catching my favorite of theirs on video (Thuggish Ruggish Bone), to an awesome tribute to Eazy-E, Biggie Smalls and Tupac, to some extremely energetic a cappella rap, this set was everything I want hip hop shows to be. Bravo Bone Thugs, you win!
Ice Cube – Another great set from Friday, was Mr. Cube. I was hoping to get angry Ice Cube instead of soft Ice Cube, so when Natural Born Killaz opened the show I felt much better about how things would go down. Ice Cube threw it down for around an hour playing mostly the old hits, including the N.W.A. I wanted to hear most. Ice Cube specifically called out those who think he has gone too commercial with a furious Check Yo’ Self, gave me Straight Outta Compton into Gangsta Gangsta, and rapped other jams like You Can Do It and Gangsta Nation. Of course he also snuck in It Was a Good Day before saying goodnight and sending us back to camp.
Kid Ink – Probably my biggest surprise of the weekend was how good Kid Inks set was. I only know a couple songs of his, but Kid Ink brought serious energy and had the crowd pumped. His set was my favorite from day two, it’s just too bad it was so early in the show (he was the second act on the main stage). Maybe next time he can move up the billing a slot or two, because it was that good. Show Me and Main Chick were two that specifically stood out. Oh and the ladies in the crowd really liked it when he took his shirt off.
Kendrick Lamar – A late addition to Summer Jam, as Chris Brown had to cancel due to legal problems, Kendrick had the younger Saturday crowd super pumped and myself entertained. Headlining night two, Lamar came out and dominated the audience for just short of an hour. I know a few of his songs, and he sang them all, so I cannot complain! Poetic Justice, Money Trees and Swimming Pools were solid. The highlight of the set for me his solo take on the A$AP Rocky collaboration Fuckin Problems. Lots of sing-alongs happened between Kendrick and the audience, who were able to hold their own with one of raps biggest stars.
E-40 – I wasn’t expecting too much out of this set from the Bay Area legend, as I was never a fan, but it was actually really good! Probably the nicest surprise on day one in my eyes. U and Dat and Tell Me When to Go stand out. Also of note was the only collaboration (really Summer Jam, only one?!?!) of the weekend when E-40 brought out Too $hort to close his set.
Too $hort – I saw a pretty disappointing Too $hort set a couple years back (Thanks Todd!), so I didn’t have too high of expectations for this one. But it was actually pretty good too! Better than the show I saw in Pullman, Washington for sure. Once this set came and went I knew the weekend had started and I could relax and enjoy the surroundings. I was all over the place during this set, up top on the grass and down low amongst the die hards, and left pleasantly surprised with this 45 minutes of music. Life is…
DJ Quik – DJ Quik opened up the weekend as the first artist on the main stage and did a good job getting the crowd into things. Considering I don’t know much of his material, I was pleased with this as the first music I heard. Sitting up on that big Gorge lawn, looking out past the river, I found DJ Quik entertaining and pretty interactive with those up front. However, he did also lie to us and tell us his nephew, Chris Brown, was going to show up the second night, which was weak sauce. This was a good set but he pissed my girlfriend off with the Breezy comment, so I got to mark him down a peg or two.
Big K.R.I.T. – I don’t know any of his stuff at all, but this set was decent. Probably the last of the good sets, in my opinion. Opening the main stage on night two, this set was pure southern rap and a good way to get things started. I would see him again if he came close.
Sir Mix-a-Lot – B.o.B was originally on the Summer Jam lineup for Saturday, but had to be replaced due to a funeral. To save the day came Sir Mix A Lot, however KUBE 93 should have done the right thing and put him on the day one Classic lineup. Instead they left Mix on day two and the younger crowd just really wasn’t into it. Most of them had barely even heard of Baby Got Back for Christ’s sakes, so this was just wrong set placement. I saw him once before and it was way better than this. I wanted Testarossa but didn’t get it, so a little bitter about that too. Posse on Broadway, My Hooptie and of course Baby Got Back were the highlights.
Big Sean – After Rick Ross had to cancel due to illness Big Sean got bumped up to the subheadliner slot for night two. This move probably worked for the young kids up front who knew all the words, but honestly didn’t do very much for me and I found the set rather unremarkable. I probably should have went to look and see if there were any rappers still going on the side stages up by the Gorge entrance during this time.
All in all a pretty good time out at the Gorge this weekend. We got treated to a few really good sets, one great set and a couple under par. It was also really cool on night two when the hosts brought out several Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks to the stage, including Pro Bowl Safety Kam Chancellor who got the crowd going with multiple SEA-HAWKS chants! I will take that combination pretty much every time, crowd size and heat be damned!