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last night's gig

Spank Rock Upstages Ghostface, Girls Go Wild

Spank Rock (center) at the HighLine Ballroom last night.Photo by Amos Barshad

We were peeved when we found out that Wu-Tang’s surrealist-wordplay champ Ghostface Killah was the opening act at his HighLine Ballroom show. But last night, it only took one raunchy, stage-burning set to convince us that Spank Rock deserved the headlining slot.

Ghost ambled onstage with his usual Theodore Unit crew, swilling a decanter of orange juice, his endearingly goofy off-key croon on point for a brief, punchy set. The whole thing would have been a total tease if not for the RZA, who materialized — Ghost seemed genuinely surprised to see him — for the crushing first verse of “Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit.” Said Spank Rock's hype man Pace Rock: “We played with Björk at the Apollo last week, and it didn’t come close to that!”

But the night still belonged to Spank Rock, who looked not unlike a young Michael Jackson. The Baltimore M.C.'s XXL raps can feel contrived on record, but live, they inspired girls in Day-Glo spandex to hurl themselves on the stage like it was the last chopper out of Saigon. It was a trip to see the stage go from Ghost’s hardened rap protocol crew to Spank Rock’s gyrating indie harem so quickly, but the transition made perfect sense: nonsensical party rhymes like “all you white girls shake it till my dick turns racist” are meant for nonsensical parties. Spank Rock even ended up on his back at one point, singing into a girl’s, um. … well, let's just say you know who you are, lady, and we hope your mother wasn’t there. —Amos Barshad