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8:17 p.m.: Public Enemy takes the stage. Yeah!!!! Or, do they? No, wait, it's really their Bomb Squad production team --- Hank and Keith Shocklee --- laying down some dub-reggae beats on the turntables.

8:45 p.m.: The band shows up but seems in no particular hurry to get going.

8:50 p.m.: Air-raid sirens, three guys in Desert Storm camouflage (the S1W's, who double as dancers and security guards), and finally the megaphone voice of Chuck D. "Bring the Noise" begins a tour through "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back." This 1988 album served as a rite of passage for a generation in the way it distilled African-American dissent into a series of Molotov-cocktail songs. It still feels like the soundtrack to Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on Ice" or "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." Its beats --- built on James Brown's "Funky Drummer" syncopations --- were every bit as fierce as Chuck's rhymes. It hasn't dated a bit.

9:10 p.m.: Flavor Flav, who shows up late and is chastised by Chuck D, trumpets his reality-TV show and the audience lets him have it. "Sell-out!" "Boooooo!" Flav is not amused.

9:17 p.m.: Flav momentarily redeems himself by restarting "Mind Terrorist." "Where the volume at?" Indeed, the volume is a few dozen decibels short of adequate. The band's urgency isn't matched by what's coming out of the speakers.

9:45 p.m.: Like a heavyweight boxer sensing a knockout, Chuck D closes in for the kill. "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" creeps with menace, and the music surges. The crowd is into it too, as the set closes with a furious "Rebel Without a Pause," "Prophets of Rage" and "Party for Your Right to Fight," before seguing into "He Got Game" and its central riff from Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth."

10:30 p.m.: The band roars through a half-hour's worth of hits after wrapping up "Millions." "Fight the Power" sends everyone home. Time to get home and recharge for Day 2.
[Greg Kot @ the Chicago Tribune]

This happened Friday night (July 18, 2008) @ The Pitchfork Fetsival. More pics below....

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