Most people in Chicagoland were all partied out Monday after a long weekend of green clothes, green beer, and green barf, but not fans of The Streets. They turned out in force - over a thousand strong - and lined Clark St. for their chance to push things forward. Less than a year ago, just as Original Pirate Material was released in the US, The Streets played one of their very first US shows at Chicago's Double Door to a hard core audience of about 200 (50% of them from the UK). Now, after finding themselves on just about every year-end best-of poll known to man, The Streets are no longer the best-kept secret in hip-hop/dance/garage. Mike Skinner and company are now well on their way to being full fledged superstars.
I was incredibly curious to see just how many people would turn out, but as I walked up to the venue and saw a line around the block as long as when The White Stripes were in town, I was curious no longer. Mike sold the place out - and on a Monday night no less. The average age of the crowd was about 20, and there were quite a few insanely drunk dudes right in front just going nutz.
Most of Original Pirate Material was touched on over the course of the hour-long set and it would be safe to say that Mike went through about 30 bottles of Corona in that time. No, he didn't drink them all. Instead, he'd take a big gulp, then shake up the bottle and spray it on the crowd, or pour it into the mouths of the already-inebriated peeps in the front row. "Don't Mug Yourself," "Too Much Brandy" and "Let's Push Things Forward" got the biggest crowd response, save for when Mike leapt into the crowd during the encore and crowd surfed for about five minutes.
The fact that a young, white, garage-head from Birmingham, with no bling-bling or scantily clad dancers, can connect in such a major way with a bunch of Midwesterners is amazing. Skinner created his album as a soundtrack for his hometown, but it has become so much more. Kids in the US are looking for an alternative to the cookie-cutter hip-hop on MTV, and The Streets are going to give it to them.