Review: DOM KENNEDY at The Gramercy Theatre


Dom Kennedy

“Disappointing — but is this because my expectations exceed the stratosphere?”

On the eve of my birthday’s eve, I decided to see DOM KENNEDY in concert again and I was utterly disappointed. I decided to sleep on it (just to give this a fair critique) but I still feel the same way. My plan wasn’t even to write about it, but it disappointed me so much, I needed to. I attended as a fan only. Remind me to never do that again, unless it is a show for Mindless Self Indulgence or Sluggo.

Let’s go back to the Summer: As an avid listener and fan girl, when the Yellow Album came out, I was not too thrilled when I first heard it, but I allowed it to grow on me. I lived with it like he suggested. I have my favourites and I have others that are still muted on iTunes today.

Hey, that’s just who I am. Nonetheless, daily, I listen to his music. Last year at the Highline Ballroom, he was full of energy. He looked happier. He looked fresher (and I mean that in a “new to the game” way). He jumped, danced, smiled and smiled all night. He left the stage with class. Also, his lineup was different. Last night, he left the stage like we did not just spend three hours waiting on him. Like we did not pay money to see him. Like we were not his fans. Like we were not in New York. Like he didn’t need us (to keep supporting online and offline).

Things I Noticed That Might Not Be A Big Deal To Him:

  • He did not acknowledge or mention Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest things that just happened to and in New York City.
  • He did not mention the death anniversary of New York Hip-Hop’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
  • There wasn’t a host.

Maybe, I am thinking way too hard. Maybe I am asking for way too much.

And a time before that, I saw him at Rocksmith’s CMJ event with DJ Prince (Skyzoo’s DJ) before the Samsung Experience closed down. I had my qualms about the way he performed there, too, but I got over it.

Last night, doors opened at 7PM. I was there at 6:55, on line. Surprisingly, the line was not as long as I expected. Then again, there wasn’t much promotion, but that’s a whole other story. After being appropriately searched down to my knit socks, I flashed my printed ticket and went directly into the theatre. I took my position at the extreme right at the front of the stage and lamped.

Waiting, I started to observe the crowd. There were a lot of young people there. This audience was a lot shorter in height and less aggressive than his audience at Highline Ballroom. Even though, those grown fools were throwing up gang signs and pushing women to get closer to DOM on stage, it was full of energy. (See my mobile videos below). Turn down your speakers before pressing play. They are loud.

Performing Grindin’

Brings out Smoke DZA

Performing 1997 and Turn Me Out

Performing Platinum Chanel

Performing When I Come Around

Mediocre muted popular music played from the house speakers and at 9pm, someone, I am guessing the sound man, started fidgeting with things on stage. The whole experience was annoying. People were having arguments about who’s a better producer: Swizz Beatz or Just Blaze, some people were even talking on Jay-Z’s behalf regarding his lifestyle as if he shared it with them. There were way too many annoying fans.

Cracked iPhone screens shined bright in the darkness, women played with each other’s weaves, men smoked and were kicked out for doing so and I was in the midst of it all tweeting with a dying phone.

I think there was some symbolism there: The Apple (New York) was dying last night.

In fact, it died when he walked on stage at 10PM and walked off less than or approximately 45 minutes later.

“My Type of Party”, his hit and biggest song on the free album with over 1.4M views, was not saved until the end of the show and he did not make eye contact with anyone for too long. Mel D. Cole (photographer) might have been the attraction for the night, but I’m unsure people knew who he was, like I did. Jay 305 was arrogant in his delivery when performing his song Youzza Flip, but that was the point, so I enjoyed it. He was happy to be there. You could tell. Polyester performed a song that I did not catch the name of, but the audience didn’t receive him well. It could be because not many people knew the words.

I enjoyed Poly at Highline Ballroom, though. He played a set with keyboards last time. It was just a better show.

DOM needs to bring some of those screaming horny fans on stage to dance with him. He needs to learn how to interact with his crowd(s) in New York, he needs to have merchandise on sale and not tell us to buy it online, he needs to sign autographs, he needs to work on his OPM’s set list and properly introduce each guy before they get on stage. We know, but we don’t see the importance. He has to make us love them like we love him. DOM, you need to make your New York shows memorable. If not for anyone else, do it for the ladies. The women you love to rap about.

Wet women were screaming that they loved him over and over and he didn’t really acknowledge them. One, to my left, felt the need to scream: Marry me! She was definitely ignored.

I did like the times he spoke into the microphone before select songs. He seemed a little off last night like something was wrong. We’ll probably never know. If he is truly going through something personal, I hope it subsides soon.

Also, he needs a real hype man, besides his DJ (who was late and unapologetic).

Other than him saying “put your hands up” every now and then, people were just swaying and smoking. It was a vast difference from what I had encountered at Highline Ballroom.

Highline. Highline. Highline.

The Gramercy Theatre’s venue’s sign read “DOM KENNEDY (break) TUESDAY” and I wondered which Tuesday? If I was someone who hadn’t a slight idea of who he was, how was that bit of information supposed to stick?


Final verdict: I think I will hold off on seeing DOM live for a while. I’ll still support and buy whatever it is that I like, but if his live show does not get better from the last, I’m going to have to chill indefinitely. Being that Kendrick Lamar played this very venue live last year (and I was there as press), I told everyone that I knew that DOM was going to finally blow up (in a real way).

I remember vividly thinking: Kendrick’s career soared soon after he played The Gramercy. DOM is next. I have to be there to support him!

Kendrick’s show was phenomenal, by the way. Purchase his debut album good kid, m.A.A.d city. I did. Twice.

Update (10:07AM): I just played his music and it doesn’t hurt as much. Thank God!