Finding Forever Tour: The Kool Haus, Toronto—9.24.2007

A quick glance at the massive crowd and lines outside of the Kool Haus on Monday night (Sept 24, 2007) were a good indication that the stock of Chi-City’s illest MC has clearly risen since the last time he touched down in the T-Dot, back in February 2006 at this very same (albeit less crowded) venue along Toronto’s waterfront. Common, who was in town for a stop on his current tour to support his latest release Finding Forever brought along some lively opening acts in the form of Stones Throw artist and legendary underground lyricist Percee P and Q-Tip, whom some might remember from a little group called A Tribe Called Quest. Unfortunately, due to the lack of complete organization and a proper lineup system courtesy of The Kool Haus security staff (this is a persistent problem at this venue, and will continue to be until someone in charge gets their act together!), many concert-goers (including myself) were trapped outside steaming, listening to the muffled sounds of each artists’ opening sets.Once inside you were immediately hit with a stifling wall of heat and humidity created by the combination of poor ventilation and the thousands of hipsters, b-boys and girls, thugs and middle-aged couples eagerly anticipating the return of Kanye West’s favorite rapper. The lights dimmed and the screaming began as vocal snippets off Finding Forever played over the sound system. Common bolted onto the stage dressed to impress in a white tee, expensive-looking denim and one of his trademark hats; and immediately had the floor bouncing with “Go” from 2005’s instant classic Be and his current heater, “The People”. A welcome addition to Common’s performance was the inclusion of live drummer Karriem Riggins, a producer/musician/power player who is known from his close association with the Stones Throw family); which added some sonic muscle to Common’s already dope live show. Common kept the energy of the crowd up as he played a little call-and-response with the sweaty party people in attendance during crowd favorites like “The Corner” off his last album. The floor shook when Common unleashed a classic throwback collage in which he spit Toronto-centric rhymes (Shouting out street names, landmarks, etc.) over classic beats like “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie and Nas’ “N.Y. State of Mind”. Those fans who weren’t at his last show in Toronto, wouldn’t realize that Common pulled the same trick the last time around and it wasn’t something new; however it worked like a charm nonetheless.The energy in the building waned slightly during “Testify” during which Common left the stage to change clothes and cut the music to deliver a spoken word portion of the track to create drama; however all it did was cause the crowd to stir restlessly and complain until the beat kicked back in. The unbearable heat was surely a factor, as several people were carried out unconscious by security; but the “mini-stage production” seemed to miss it’s intended target.Common closed off his set with a stirring rendition of one of his all-time greatest tracks “The Light” which was produced by the late production prodigy J Dilla, whom was shown love by all inside the cramped Kool Haus. He then stated that, “I always close the show with The Light and typically don’t do any more songs….however because y’all been so good, I’ll do a couple more!” The crowd roared its approval as Common bounced through the Kanye-assisted “The Food” and “I Want You” off Finding Forever.All in all, Chicago’s finest delivered yet another memorable performance filled with everything you would expect from Common and maybe a little you wouldn’t. Hopefully next time Toronto is graced with Common’s fine mic presence it will be at a venue that that offers some relief from the heat being produced on stage and amongst the fans.