Words: Miljan Milekić
“Thank you for showing up on a Wednesday night, on two days’ notice,” was the sentence we heard quite a few times coming from the stage of Coorse Event Centre. And for the better part of the show, it was one of the driving forces of the show.
The whole thing actually came together in a bizarre way. R.A. the Rugged Man was supposed to perform in Saskatoon on Sunday, as part of the Three-Headed Monster Tour, led by Insane Clown Posse’s Violent J. However, something happened, and he could not perform on the tour’s Canadian leg. From what I’ve learned, he found that out after already coming to Canada, which made everything even more strange.
Enter Goon Town, Black Sheep, and the local skate crew. First, on Sunday night, R.A. the Rugged Man pulled up at the 306 Skate Park for a pop-up show – something I would scramble my way to if I knew it was happening. And then, another piece of news broke – a brand new show was announced, and we had 48 hours until the doors opened.
“Thank you for showing up on a Wednesday night, on two days’ notice!” – we heard these words from R.A. the Rugged Man, we heard them from DJ Lala, from Goon Town, and other supporting acts, and never they sounded insincere of fake. And I believe that every person in the venue felt that energy. I most certainly did.
This was definitely not the biggest crowd a legend like R.A. the Rugged Man had performed for, but the old cliché that “sometimes less is more” turned out to be as true as ever. From the moment he took the stage after a short but effective warm-up from DJ Lala, R.A. the Rugged Man made it his own, and the party could start. The barrier between the artist and his fans was quickly erased on this show if it ever existed in the first place. For the better part of the show we either had him among us in the crowd, or the stage was filled with fans, singing, dancing, and jumping with him.
With an extensive catalogue to pick from, R.A. the Rugged Man was steering his set through different moods and phases. What started off as a party seamlessly slid into the mosh pit territory before becoming more serious and political. And that was the beauty of having someone like R.A. behind the wheel. Being in the game for so long, he did not miss the chance to honor his role models and hip hop pioneers, especially in the year when hip hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The show itself never had a dull moment, with so much happening both on and off the stage. From DJ Lala’s scratching miniatures to an impromptu beatboxing contest R.A. put up in the crowd, before calling up both guys to perform with him on the stage, it seemed like everyone was having fun, never wanting for the show to end. And time after time it was proven true. At least four times the show was over, just for the R.A. to decide to slot a song or two more into the set. And no, it was not fake, and it was not the act.
“Thank you for showing up on a Wednesday night, on two days’ notice!” I can’t imagine the amount of work and energy that went into this show, just to make it happen. And both the crowd and the artist recognized it and made it count. I have no doubt that the crowd would be bigger if there was enough time to actually promote this show. Hell, even I finished my shift at work 15 minutes AFTER the doors opened at the Coors Event Centre, and barely made it. But in the end, this show was a testament to the power of hard work, the power of community, and finally, the power of music.