Asher Roth, Kid Cudi, 88-Keys, and 2,500 Abercrombie Models at the House of Blues

Something strange was happening at the Kenmore Square T stop before the Asher Roth and Kid Cudi show last night. With no explanation whatsoever, every kid who rounded the corner by the Cask ‘N Flagon looked like they jumped off the page of a Hollister catalogue, as if they all passed through some sort of futuristic Abercrombie simulator.

And there were droves of them - chugging booze out of soda bottles, hiding joints in their underwear, and in some cases looking for tickets, which were selling for three times the $25 face value. I promise to shut up about the stylistic destitution of suburban adolescents from here on in, but dozens of them were wearing those Run-DMC t-shirts that they sell at Old Navy, and that’s simply unacceptable.

I showed in time to catch 88-Keys do his last four tracks. Despite being the most talented cat on the bill - and having the best songs - he was relegated to opening honors. The crowd was filled and eager, though, and by the time he finished “Morning Wood” he had more than a few pubertal nipples pebble hard. And from what I could tell, the dudes dug him too.

The set-up was frustrating, as the House of Blues allowed no drinking on the first floor, presumably to prevent guys like me from contributing to the delinquency of minors. As a result, you could either booze upstairs and stare at the backs of heads, or go dry downstairs. Naturally, I alternated; at times the teenage orgy upstairs was more entertaining than the concert on the first floor.

These kids lost their turds for Cudi, and in turn he worked the crowd like a sweat mechanic. He’s a competent performer, and his songs have noteworthy range - even if such personal cuts as “Man on the Moon” are as artificial as “Day and Night,” which, in 20 years, will be one of those songs that your kids know all the words to but have no idea who sings it. That said - Cudi could use a hype man; he bit and his look from Pigeon John (whether he knows it or not); and he should stick to vapid rap, as last night’s steps toward alt and indie rock were truly awful.

Asher Roth drove a go-cart on stage with the Saved by the Bell theme song playing in the background. Did you hear what I said? Asher Roth drove a go-cart on stage with the Saved by the Bell theme song playing in the background. I’ve seen groupies get fucked and people get stabbed at rap shows, but this one I never imagined.

Whatever it is that excites kids these days - free Oxycontin? - imagine more than 2,000 of them sniffing at the same time. This Roth boy knows how to work heads; before stepping with his own rhymes he dipped through a medley of everything from commercial rap classics to “Candy Rain” and the Spice Girls stinker “Wannabe.” With this crowd, corniness has no glass ceiling.

As I mentioned in my feature about Asher last week, his debut album is a respectable effort. Fortunately, he executes his songs well in person; his Eminem song, “As I Em,” sounded nearly as good as an actual Eminem song. On his singles, “Lark on My Go-Cart” and “I Love College,” he delivered like a dormitory drug dealer - looks of excitement all around.

I’ll definitely miss the days when whiteboy hip-hop was interesting, but I suppose contemporary young audiences eschew authenticity. Asher’s no Slug, but now that Atmosphere fans are all grown up, it’s safe to say that Roth will be inspiring rivers between young white thighs on college campuses for the next few years. As for longevity; they say a fart has no nose, but I’m pretty sure he’s already grown out of the frat party lifestyle that he famously personifies.  

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