May 17, 2008 - 4:13 PM
When Playboy is sponsoring a music tour, expectations are attached. It's Playboy. Sadly, the Rock the Rabbit 2008 tour stop at the Mezzanine in San Francisco on May 3 had people waiting for a party that never happened. I'm sorry, but a tour with Playboy bunnies, liquor (Jack Daniels is another sponsor) and music should be a recipe for a good time. You had three of the four major elements of the rock 'n roll lifestyle--and people came with the last component. I saw two boys sparking a doobie near the stage. But the problem with expectations is when there's no payoff.
Rappers the Cataracts took the stage at 11:00 p.m, shrouded in smoke and lights, and delivered a techno-filled rap set. They got the crowd going, especially the women. About halfway through their set a man in hater mode sitting with a group of men in a corner started yelling at the group to get off the stage. As the Cataracts finished their short set, one of the emcees gave the finger in the direction of the heckler, and said, "this is for the haters."
After the set, a DJ started spinning techno beats. No dancing—no action, period. It was like people were waiting for somebody or something to initiate the party. Were it not for the PG-13 Playboy posters, you would be forgiven for thinking it was just some lame ass industry party. Where were the bunnies? The free Playboy mags and t-shirts? Jack Daniels sampler bottles? I finally spotted a disinterested Playboy bunny.
Finally, The Heavy, a funky, soul-inspired indie band from England, took the stage at midnight with a very loud and bad sound mix. I wonder if the band had a sound check. Lead singer, frontman and self-proclaimed "Wolfman," Swaby, was barely audible above the heavy bass. He bounced around the stage and mixed with the audience but the crowd barely reciprocated. A tight sound mix might have given the Heavy a chance.
At one point a man dressed as a wolf took the stage during a song. Too bad no bunnies joined him. Slowly the crowd near the stage started to shrink as people searched for something else to do. As the sound gradually became more distorted, I left to find something else to do myself.
Photos from the event (click to enlarge images and for more info):
Craig Young has completed internships with Knight Ridder and McClatchy newspapers. Currently, he freelances for non-profit organizations including the Associated Press (San Francisco office).