X gon’ give it to ya . . . an hour and 40 minutes late

TONY LIBERA | Updated 10/15/2012

A bizarre Saturday at Midway Stadium (a.k.a. Zombie Island) for Zombie Pub Crawl headliner DMX.

DMX performing at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2011.
David Goldman, AP

There were thousands dressed as the undead, all shimmying to what became an extended set for the Get Cryphy gang, as frantic-looking promoters explained that Zombie Pub Crawl headliner DMX had not yet arrived from the airport. As the event’s 11 p.m. curfew neared, those who had not already stumbled home dejected became restless, and for a moment one had to wonder if a riot was in the works à la University of Minnesota's 2009 Spring Jam, when Talib Kweli was the no-show. And just how surreal would that have been? A horde of drunk zombies storming the streets of St. Paul against the backdrop of fireworks, a burning building and the thunderous sound of club music.

DMX arrived with 20 minutes to spare (the official explanation is that his flight was delayed four hours), but by that point much of the crowd had dispersed. Yet to his credit, X, now 41 years old, came onstage with the same borderline (?) crazy enthusiasm that made him so popular in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. The only real problem of the set itself was that Mr. X appeared to be unaware of his remaining minutes on stage, waxing poetic about zombies, women, etc. between songs and playing a lot of filler, which irked many fans now both hyper-aware of the concert’s end time and hammered drunk off “Brain Belt” beer.

DMX did manage to get in a few hits; “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up” were received better than the rest. But only minutes past 11 p.m. his mic was cut, much to X’s dismay. He then attempted to silence the crowd in an effort to deliver an a capella rap, but nobody would quiet down, leaving most in attendance to scratch their heads at the animated gesticulations taking place onstage.

But perhaps the most bizarre of the night’s events took place after the concert, when a young zombie woman snuck backstage to chastise DMX for his use of the word “faggot” earlier in the show. As security tried shooing here away, DMX calmly belabored the point that “A word will always mean what you want it to mean.”

“When I say that that shit is ‘gay’, I don’t mean ‘homo’,” DMX explained. “I got half my fuckin’ family is faggots. I mean gay, all right? . . . C’mon, that’s what it is. I don’t give a fuck. I don’t judge.”

It was a strange night, no doubt about it. And though many attendees were upset by how events unfolded at Zombie Island, one has to wonder what they expected. Because in all reality, they were given everything one presumes there to be at a DMX show: an extremely late appearance, an entire bottle of Hennessy poured out for the fallen, monologues about having sex with audience members, an adrenalized performance where DMX climbed onto the speakers to deliver his angry growls, a threat to jump into the crowd and fight one of his more rambunctious audience members, and a brawl between the security staff and a few concertgoers enlivened by the madness.

Yes, X did give it to ya.