Review by Marco Villalobos
Eek-A-Mouse and Pato Banton
at the Vault 350, Long Beach
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Better Than: Cleaning up spilled bong water on your dorm room carpet.
He’s a Jamaican national treasure, a reggae legend, a six-foot-six black cowboy with a nasal scat that just may be the most identifiable vocal style in the world. It’s been 28 years since Eek-A-Mouse, aka Ripton Joseph Hylton, released his first album; 28 years of college students moving into their very first apartments with his music in the background as they blow trees; 28 years of asking the eternal question, “Wa do dem?” And answering always, “Me no know.”
Last night at the Vault with Pato Banton, Eek-A-Mouse proved that by the age of 51, after 28 years in show business, clocking in about 200 shows a year, it doesn’t take much to make a crowd happy. He sauntered out in his black Stetson and maroon pinstriped suit with a black long sleeve t-shirt and the crowd roared at the sight and sound of him. During any given intro, he asked about four times, “How ya’ feelin? Whatchu smokin’ tonight?” And the crowd merrily responded.
He changed his Stetson for a knit Rasta cap pulled from his back pocket. He pulled girls up on stage one by one, and before you know it there were 40 kids flailing around him: a girl hugging him from behind like a lost daughter, a West Coast Choppers junior mascot puffing wildly on a borrowed spliff.
The Mouse, as he’s been known to refer to himself, danced oblivious to the melee—swaying, as he did been all night, rolling off lyrics and his trademark biddy bing bing melodies until the verse kicked in. “Get out my yard,” he sung, and sure enough, a husky security guard encouraged each stage crasher, one by one, to exit stage right.
Next, the Mouse donned an LA Dodgers cap. But first he wiped his face and bald head with t-shirts and tossed them into the crowd. In the club’s furthest corner Pato Banton, the original brash talk-it-up rude boy English DJ, posed for a picture as a girl in a miniscule skirt and some sort of slingshot breast restrainer writhed around near the bar, prancing onward in front of a motley conga line of admirers who followed her.
And not once did the Mouse stop asking, “How ya feeling?”
Personal Bias: After the 38th time, I don’t think it’s necessary to ask the crowd how they’re doing anymore. I think you can assume they’re still doing fine.
Random Detail: Oh, How am I? I’m doing much better now, thank you.
By the way: The Mouse prays that all evil people will stay away from his biddy beng beng.