Just two nights before, Mark Anthony Nelson had found himself dashing away from Anaheim’s Celebrity Theatre, fleeing the sound of sudden gunfire that marred an evening of rap music.
But Saturday night, the Orange resident, 22, looked relaxed as he stood in the Celebrity lobby, waiting for another rap show to begin.
Nelson, wearing a T-shirt of the rap group Public Enemy and colorful baggy trousers he had custom-decorated with rhinestones, said he had suspected there might be trouble on Thursday night, when Ice Cube, the controversial chronicler of Los Angeles gang violence, was the headliner.
Trouble came: a youth was wounded by a gunshot just outside the entrance, not far from the box office where Nelson had stood before making his dash. And a brief melee inside the theater had forced the show’s cancellation before Ice Cube was able to appear.
“It scared the hell out me,” Nelson said. But now the headliner was Vanilla Ice, and Nelson said he had no fear of anything similar happening (as it turned out, the concert went off without incident).
“Vanilla Ice has a different crowd,” said Kedric Hubbert, 20, who drove from Bakersfield to join the 2,500 other fans at the sold-out show. “He puts out a different message. He’s not negative, he’s real positive. I had no qualms about coming. I’m real excited.”
Hubbert said he hadn’t been surprised to hear about violence at an Ice Cube concert. “That show was sure to draw a rough crowd,” he said. “It’s kind of gang-influenced (music). I don’t listen to that kind of rap--it’s negative. But everyone has the right to do their kind of music. They shouldn’t stop having rap concerts because of one (incident). They should look at (each) group to see the history of the group, and what kind of (audience) they bring.”
Other fans interviewed also pointed to the wide gulf between Ice Cube, whose angry, obscenity-laced raps aim to confront the public with graphic renderings of inner-city social pathology (some critics accuse him of glorifying gang violence), and Vanilla Ice, an innocuous, good-time rapper with no social agenda and an audience that included many pre-teen children accompanied by adults.
Still, some admitted they were a little jittery because of the violence at the previous rap concert.
“I think it’ll be a pretty good concert,” said Heather Cox, 15, of Anaheim. “The crowd doesn’t look scary. My dad didn’t want me to come, but he left it up to me. He said I should be very careful: ‘If you hear any shooting, duck.’ ”
“My parents were very afraid something would happen,” said Andrea Salas, a 14-year-old Anaheim girl. “They just said, ‘Be careful.’ They knew I wanted to come.”
Debbi Morse, 28, of Anaheim, said that she and her 11-year-old daughter, Nicole, “almost didn’t come” because of the trouble two nights before.
“It’s kind of eerie, because you don’t know what kind of crowd these younger rap groups are going to draw. Then we thought, ‘You can’t judge the crowd from one concert to another.’ It’s a totally different audience.” Besides, Morse said, if she had refused to take her daughter to the show, “we would have had more problems at home than at the concert. I was nervous, but now I’m real comfortable, seeing all the security outside.”