June 22, 2013


Firefly 2013: Public Enemy by the Numbers

2013 has been one hell of a year for Public Enemy. In April the seminal hip hop group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They’re currently crossing the country on the all-star Kings of the Mic Tour with LL Cool J, Ice Cube, De La Soul, and DJ Z Trip. And Flavor Flav’s chicken & ribs restaurant in Michigan is under constant threat of eviction. Well, I guess it’s not all good news. 

Last night they added another memorable moment to their year when they hit the stage in front of a rapturous crowd at the Firefly Festival. And although the set was hindered by some technical difficulties, it was a highlight of Day 1 of the Fest. Why? Because they performed their groundbreaking album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – which happens to be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – from front to back. Yeah, we were amazed too. 

Since hearing the album live is much different than listening to it on wax (or on any other format), here’s a breakdown of their performance by the numbers. 

Scheduled start time: 7:15pm 

Actual start time: 7:25pm, due to some technical issues. Which was good news for me, because… 

Time it took to walk from Ellie Goulding’s stage (her performance ended at 7:08) to Public Enemy’s stage: 12 minutes. And I’m a fast walker. Who knew Delaware was so big? 

Elapsed time before Chuck D started complaining about the sound: 3 minutes. According to Chuck, his microphone sounded like it came “from planet Neptune.” 

Total number of times Chuck D complained about his mic: 4. Eventually he switched from a wireless mic to one with a cord, which seemed to solve the problem. 

Number of clocks Flavor Flav was wearing at the start of the set: 0 (he claimed he retired it once the group was inducted into the Hall of Fame) 

Number of songs into the set that he pulled out the clock he’d been hiding under his shirt: 2 

Number of men onstage during the group introductions: 14 

Number of those men who contributed to the music at any point during the set: 6 

Number of those men who wore camouflage clothing: 6 (not the same 6) 

Number of times Chuck D played the harmonica: 3 

Number of times a harmonica is played during a typical rap concert: 0 

Approximate length of DJ Lord’s solo, during which he scratched Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: 2.5 minutes 

Number of jumping spin kicks Professor Griff successfully landed during “Prophets of Rage”: 5 

Number of times the drunk guy standing in front of me tripped over his own feet and fell: 2 

Number of times Chuck D promoted the Twitter handle of a member of the group: 5 (twice for his own) 

Number of times Chuck D accidentally referred to Firefly as Firefox: 1 (he apologized, saying “Sorry, I’m senile”) 

Number of things Flavor Flav said he’s “always been against” during his end-of-show rant: 2 (racism and separatism) 

Percentage of the audience that was white: approximately 90% 

Percentage of Delaware’s population that is white, per the 2011 Census: 71.7% 

Number of stuffed animal penguins wearing sombreros spotted in the audience: 1. Because even Latin American penguins love Public Enemy!