Block party starring Wyclef Jean and—Christian Bale?
Midtown’s streets were empty on Saturday morning except for 20th Street, where a giant freight truck looked like it was about to jackknife The Depot and then slam into Lounge on 20. The driver, though, was just having a tough time parking a trailer in the middle of the road. When it finally shimmied into place, its shell popped open, like Optimus Prime, and transformed into a giant concert stage.
As you might have heard, there was a party in the middle of 20th on Saturday night. With Wyclef Jean (you know, that Fugees dude who never quite recovered after Lauryn Hill won all the Grammys). Anyway, no one really knew about the event until Saturday afternoon, when a green chain-link fence went up around 20th between J and K streets and the general public—uninvited—started asking questions.
The show’s sponsors, the California College Democrats, expected 3,000 invite-only attendees, which is way more than the 12 people who typically show up at Convention after-hour hotel soirees. You know, open bars, Steely Dan, tequila shots, sodomy.
By 10 p.m., the fenced-off area was a-third filled with guests. Wine by the plastic cup went for $8 and, onstage, a deejay looped Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” for 15 minutes.
“DJ Carnival Cruise,” as my friend put it.
Later, College Dems president Nick Warshaw took the stage. Maybe he was pumping his fists like Arsenio Hall, or maybe I was imagining this because of his political-geek vibe, like a younger brother who crashes big sis’ sorority party. Warshaw introduced Mayor Kevin Johnson as “the man who dunked on Hakeem Olajuwon,” and people have got to stop saying this. It’s not like anyone introduces Councilman Rob Fong with “the man who brought back seersucker.”
Anyway, K.J. pumped his fist, too, and patted himself on the back for “pulling some strings” and making the block party happen. He sported slacks, an untucked collared shirt and long leather coat. I wasn’t counting, but he probably said “Obama” at least five times.
And then something crazy happened: K.J. introduced S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom, but actor Christian Bale showed up instead, wearing a gray suit and white-collared button-up without a tie, waxed chest glowing in the lights. But Bale—consummate professional actor that he is—proceeded to channel Newsom, championing young voters and Obama (probably more than five times).
And with that, Wyclef took the stage. The 900 or so crowd in the street and on the Lounge on 20 patio dug it. And, you know, Wyclef was cool if you’re into 1) substituting the lyrics to every song with “Sacramento” and “Obama,” 2) unexpectedly bad guitar playing, 3) compensating for bad guitar playing with impressive hand waving, 4) covering Bob Marley’s entire Legend LP, 4) Bathing Ape hoodies.
In all, it’s hard to complain about a concert in the middle of the road in Sacramento. Pretty cool.
On Sunday by 9 a.m., 20th Street was empty and back to normal. It was like Gavin From the Block never happened. Cigarettes and straws littered in the gutter were the only evidence.