As Fun Fun Fun kicked off Friday afternoon, one couldn't help but notice all the RUN D.M.C. T-shirts around the park. Some looked like they were 80's originals, while others came straight from the merch stand. It was apparent, though, that everyone was ready to witness the reformation of hip-hop's first real crossover act.
RUN D.M.C.'s accomplishments are astounding in retrospect: They had the first gold rap album, and the first platinum one. MTV named them the greatest rap group of all time. Their collaboration cover of "Walk This Way" brought rap music into suburban living rooms — and pop music hasn't been the same since. To this day, they are widely credited for bringing the "new school" of East Coast rap into being, and are of immeasurable influence in their genre.
As the lights dimmed, the classic RUN D.M.C. logo unfurled from a banner behind the stage — and this was pretty much all of the stage production the duo were bringing. Aided by the DJ duo of Jason Mizell Jr. and T.J. Mizell, Jay Master Jay's sons, the group emerged in their trademark all black gear: matching Stetsons, an Adidas jacket for Reverend Run, and a Nirvana T for DMC.
The hits came early and often: "Sucker M.C.'s" and "It's Like That" kicked things off, flowing quickly into "It's Tricky". That pair of songs brought the tremendous crowd (perhaps the largest we've ever seen at FFF) into an arm-waving frenzy that almost never let up.
DMC looked fit and in fighting shape, and braved the stage edges and the monitors to get closer to the crowd. The Reverend stuck closer to the stage, but in spite of his "collar," wasn't afraid of shouting "throw your hands in the goddamn air!" He later explained this by saying he could "be a preacher on Sunday and a rapper on Monday," which drew big laughs from the audience.
After a spirited run through classic "Here We Go," fans finally got a taste of the pop side of RUN D.M.C. when they hauled out "Mary Mary"— and with it, some goofiness. Run adopted a strut and did a move where he threw and caught the mike to the beat, and the crowd roared.
The reaction to the group was warm throughout the night, and it was obvious from the group's body language that they felt the love. Interestingly, while offstage between songs, the duo didn't huddle, but retreated to opposite corners of the stage — making it tougher to tell whether the reunion is a long-term one.
Toward the end of the set, Run talked candidly about the murder of the group's DJ Jam Master Jay essentially shutting down RUN D.M.C. for 13 years, then introduced Jay's sons and allowed them a solo DJ turn. It was a gracious gesture, though not quite what the crowd had come for — meaning that listening stopped and crowd conversation commenced as the two Mizell sons played.
When RUN D.M.C. re-emerged, Run pointed to the sky and gave a shout out to Jay before bringing the set home with a knockout one-two of "My Adidas" and "Walk This Way."
And just like that, in under an hour, they vanished as quickly as they'd appeared. The audience was clearly hoping for an encore — at least half the crowd lingered for 10-15 minutes even as the stage crews were dismantling the band's equipment.
So it wasn't a marathon set — but the little bit we got sure was a good time.