August 20, 2012: Bilbao, Spain
July and August are not great months for concert-goers in many parts of Europe. Cities like Paris turn to virtual ghost towns as their residents take advantage of their liberal holiday culture. Apparently booking agents are aware of this and either do the same or follow Europe's listeners to their various beach town destinations. So when I discovered that there is a week-long, free, outdoor festival in Bilbao known as Aste Nagusia during our visit, I had reserved enthusiasm. I assumed that the festival would be great for checking out some less polished, local acts. But I was more than surprised to see "Public Enemy" in the lineup. In fact, I didn't believe it until an internet search confirmed their planned performance.
Sure enough, exactly at midnight (6 hours before our scheduled flight home), Chuck D and the camouflaged "dancers" took the stage. One song later, the large, energetic Bilbao crowd welcomed the infamous Flavor Flav. Their 10-song set* featured a number classics that I recognized such as Bring the Noise, 911 is a Joke, and Welcome to the Terrordome, and Don't Believe the Hype. A more schooled hip-hop fan surely would have recognized more. Another highlight was an interlude featuring the scratching of DJ Lord, when he mashed up the White Stripe's Seven Nation Army and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.
At times I thought that moments in between the songs were the most enjoyable component of the set. Banter between Chuck D and Flavor Flav was comical (when comprehensible). It occasionally mentioned things like PublicEnemy.com and [email protected] I kept thinking about ImOscar.com. Flav managed an impressive 20+ on-stage push ups and did a nice extended "Yeaaahhhhh Booooyyyy". Chuck D also encouraged the "Basque nation" to keep up their fight, and then ironically welcomed a fan on stage that paraded with the Spanish flag.
*We arrived only minutes before the concert began and chose to roost adjacent to the main floor. As a result, the sound and atmosphere may have been sub-optimal. We also left before the entire main set completed and didn't catch any of the (presumed) encore.