Lauryn Hill and Dave Chappelle
April 13, 2011 (Actually April 14)
@ The New Parish, Oakland
Better than: A good night's sleep
When the news hit Twitter Wednesday afternoon, it seemed like a prank: Lauryn Hill and Dave Chappelle had announced a last-minute show at the New Parish in Oakland? For that very night? Sure, Hill played the Warfield Tuesday, but wasn't Titus Andronicus at New Parish Wednesday? Well, yes -- the Hill/Chappelle affair was a special late-night deal, set for 1-3:30 a.m., after Titus' set at the cozy downtown Oakland club. The prices seemed real enough -- $90 a ticket for the floor, $140 for VIP treatment -- and by late Wednesday evening, word hit that even at that dime, the show was nearly sold out.
By 12:45 a.m., a mere 15 minutes before the things were supposed to start, a very real line of fans snaked around the corner from the venue, down San Pablo Avenue, and back around 17th Street, encompassing nearly an entire city block. No one knew what to expect. Giddy fans smoked, hit bowls, waved paper tickets around excitedly, and chatted about the need for Red Bull. Around 1, the line actually started to move, and frantic organizers divided up the crowd to get everyone in faster.
Sure enough, at about 1:20, a lanky Dave Chappelle ambled out onto the New Parish's small, squarish stage, dressed in jeans, a leather jacket, and white Adidas, and the reality of this thing hit properly. Ten hours ago, none of us expected to be here, and even Dave was surprised: "This shit was put together at the very last minute!" he exclaimed, before launching into what seemed like a largely improvised set. First topic: Africa, or rather, the absurdity of Somalian pirates holding an oil tanker hostage for a $20 million ransom. "Where the fuck you gonna cash a $20 million check in Mogadishu?" Chappelle howled. "There isn't even a liquor store there!"
He bummed a smoke from a guy watching upstairs, and the monologue wandered through Egypt's revolution ("they Twittered that motherfucker to death"), the lax weed laws of NorCal ("They say marijuana is legal in Oakland, is that true?"), Gavin Newsom's sex scandal ("I met him [Newsom] before, he's a nice guy"), Chappelle potentially sleeping with Oprah ("That's one of the most implausible things I've ever heard in my life"), and, of course, Barry Bonds ("I hope he did steroids!")