For some of you, it was a typical Thursday in Sacramento: dry, with that hot wind that is neither welcome nor refreshing. And while it was that, for some of us, it was something to remember. For some of us, that Thursday was different. That Thursday, Submerge hooked it up and sent your boy to the State Fair V.I.B. status (Very Important Bear) to see the one and only, MC Hammer!
The workday flew by and before I knew it, all clocks read “Hammer Time.” As if the concert weren’t good enough, my awesome editor-in-chief got us two drink tickets and free food. Your boy was officially big timin’, ya heard? After finding our seat, we hit the buffet. My level of “big timin'” sank slightly as I perused the selection. Large hunks of unidentifiable meat (ribs?) and a slurry of Safeway deli counter salads covered the tables. After a bit of line jumping, I managed to find the dessert section and settled in for a bit. Sweets in tow, I was off to the bar area to cash in a drink ticket. My spirits lifted briefly upon seeing liquor behind the bar, only to be crushed back down by shouts of, “I can’t take drink tickets for that!” Heineken it was.
As I settled into my seat for a pre-Hammer cold one, I began to take notice of the crowd. I would say that the most represented group was the 30-somethings. These people pretty much lost their shit when Hammer came out. The others in attendance ran the gamut. There were children, teenagers, young adults, mid-lifers, senior citizens, and yes, even octogenarians. Physically, the crowd went from hotness to hot mess and everywhere in between. One dude had a mullet that could double as a Yosemite Sam mud flap. There was even a Wilford Brimley-esque hippy with a tie-dyed “Let Yourself Go” T-shirt.
As show time drew near, the crowd’s gaze began to focus on the main stage. Large video monitors flanked either end of the stage, and this being the state fair, the screens were filled with a PowerPoint presentation on how awesome California is. Finally, at around 8 p.m., the heavens opened and Hammer appeared. Dressed in a white suit, my man literally glowed in the stage lights.
Speaking of safe, I was worried that Hammer was gonna be on the gospel tip all night; thankfully, I was wrong. In fact, Hammer took steps to separate himself from his squeaky-clean image right off the bat. The sounds of “Pumps and a Bump” filled the stadium, signaling that the show had officially started. The crowd exploded! People of all ages were on their feet dancing like they were at a cousin’s wedding. I believe it was the safest they had ever felt.
Before the crowd could catch its breath, Hammer hit us with “Turn This Mutha Out.” Moving back to his later work, Hammer laced the crowd with a remix of “It’s All Good”; and it truly was. For those in doubt of his street cred, Hammer wants you to know that 2Pac listened to one of his songs in jail, for inspiration. SO DON’T FUCK WITH HAMMER OR 2PAC’S GHOST WILL KILL YOU, BITCH! For those who couldn’t hear the message, Hammer had it translated into sign language. After a few more hits (“Adam’s Groove,” “Pray,” “Here Come the Hammer,” etc.), it was time to bring out the big guns. “2 LEGIT… 2 LEGIT TO QUIT! HEY HEY!“ leapt from the speakers and the asses were out of the seats. During the breakdown, Hammer worked his way through the crowd, pulling people on stage for the grand finale: “U Can’t Touch This!” All I can say is crab-walks for days!
And then, like a dream, it was over. I walked away with a million memories fighting their way into permanency. I knew this story had to be told, so I did my best to avoid more stimuli; but the hold of MC Hammer was just not ready to let go. Outside the fair, I encountered a white woman in her 60s wearing a “U Can’t Touch This” T-shirt. Upon closer inspection, she turned out to also be holding an MC Hammer doll that was in pristine condition. I snapped this super fan’s picture before heading back to the car. Behind me, a group of children sang, “2 legit, 2 legit to quit,” and I couldn’t help but think, yes Hammer, you truly are.