As we moved with the mass of people all fleeing from, storming off from, Lauryn Hill's concert at Wingate Field, I overheard several pretty hilarious things, all of which may give you, the reader fortunate enough not to have attended this concert, something to understand what it is you missed. Among these choice quotes: "I wish I had a tomato." "Lauryn Hill needs to be arrested." "It's sad when Sean Kingston [the opener] is the highlight."
To watch a performer who once had it, that special quality, and whose album you played non-stop over and over again during that year in college, how those songs when heard again bring to the surface those memories, otherwise buried, of dancing with this person, that person, and singing along with countless people on car rides the whole of that CD - to watch this performer, Lauryn Hill, these days, in the year 2007, is terribly disappointing. Whatever it was I loved was absent. It was painful to watch.
First, after being about an hour and a half late to her show, her band played a long, terribly long, instrumental introduction, which seemed all the more painful, all the more rude, after already having made the audience wait for so long to see Hill perform. The band was playing jam band type grooves, stuff I thought they would switch out of once Hill finally emerged on stage. Instead, they continued with their riffs, too loud and unfocused, while Hill chanted something in a scratched up voice. The effect she seemed to be going for was perhaps something along the lines of Fela Kuti, some really bad attempt at Afropop. It wasn't working. Her voice was terrible. The band wasn't that good. It was just an ugly mess, and after that very first song, despite having waited hours to see her play, the crowd started to stream out of the venue.
We stayed for a few more songs, all just as terrible, and watched the mass exodus before eventually joining it. Sean Kingston's performing "Beautiful Girls," sadly, definitely was the highlight. To watch one of your favorite singers from your past bomb on stage in such a terrible fashion is not pleasant, makes you ponder time, the gifts of youth, and, when you are already in a bad mood, makes things seem pretty miserable. Joy is found when someone can capture that miserableness and take it to the extreme, statements such as "Lauryn Hill needs to be arrested." That, and the image of this man actually having a tomato, an early Looney Tunes cartoon, and him pelting the performer with it, the mental imagery too great, too funny.