Last night I went to an odd little event.
It was the Rza, of Wu-Tang Clan fame, playing original music — instrumentals of songs from the Wu catalog — along to the movie 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
The movie is said to be the inspiration for the Wu-Tang Clan origin story, and though I am from Staten Island and a giant Wu-Tang fan (not to mention, having worked with them on one odd thing or another over the years), I’d never actually seen the movie.
The screening took place at the Town Hall, in Times Square, and to me, the most amazing thing was just how many people were there.
Tickets were not exactly cheap — $45 — and yet the theater was packed. I know the show sold out because there weren’t any tickets available when I checked yesterday afternoon.
That so many tickets sold for what was, ostensibly, such a nerdy, granular kind of thing — it kind of blew me away.
Sitting in the balcony, people all around me were bobbing their heads to the music, fully engaged in the expertly-choreographed fight scenes.
They laughed, they clapped, they chanted “Wu. Tang. Wu. Tang.” It felt like I was at a Wu-Tang concert. But I wasn’t. I was in a theater, watching a movie that came out almost forty years ago.
After leaving the theater, I got off the train at 34th Street, and walked past Madison Square Garden. There, thousands of people were streaming out.
There had been a concert — Mary J. Blige. Method Man joined her for their duet “All I Need,” so I hear.
It all got me thinking about how underserved this whole audience is. White, black, indian, asian, whatever — it’s the sort of aging hip-hop audience.
Like, Rza is 47. Mary J. Blige is 45.
Yet there is so little that caters to fans of this stuff. Some, but little. It’s like a whole era in music never even happened. It’s weird and kind of depressing.
I hope that some of the power structures — Hollywood, television, publishing, music industry — get hip to it. Slowly, I think they are.
Because there’s only so many times you can reissue the Beatles and Rolling Stones. It’s like, cool, we get it. The 60’s, man. But let’s move on.