Last Thursday, I headed down to the free MC Hammer concert outside the Ronald Reagan Building. Along with a healthy dose of parachute pants, repping of Oakland, Calif., and that crazy sideways dance that Hammer does, I got a crash course in how to piss off a plaza full of Hammer fans.
The lesson came courtesy of a man called Shack n’D Pack. Shack n’D Pack is a radio personality on WPGC. His name seems a riff on a Burger King Value Meal prize. He’s also the purveyor of some of the most bizarre concert stalling tactics I have ever experienced.
Shack n’D Pack began by announcing, “we about to turn this motha OUT, Ronald Reagan Building & International Traaaaaaaade!”
It quickly became clear, however, that no mothers were to be turned out anytime soon.
Here’s a rough breakdown of how Shack n’D Pack attempted to fill Hammer’s hour-long absence:
- Traipses around the audience in a blind attempt to shake every person’s hand. Insists, “Everyone knows Shack n’D Pack!”
- Demands that an audience member provide him with a dollar bill for use in a magic trick; claims that the dollar provided is the “wrong type of dollar.”
- Demands that a second audience member provide him with a dollar bill for use in a magic trick; claims that the dollar bill has “Washington’s wonky eyes.”
- Fails to complete magic trick.
- Asks an audience member where she hails from. When she answers, “Northern Virginia,” exclaims, “Northern Virginia! That means she got some money!”
- Calls a photographer onstage; insists that he dance for the audience. Photographer refuses.
- Announces that MC Hammer is ready; walks backstage.
- Hidden from view, adopts a strange Darth Vader impression. Announces, “This is MC Hammer.”
- Is not MC Hammer.
- Launches into a grossly inaccurate overview of Hammer’s career that begins, “The year…is 1976. After 200,000 years of entertainment…one man…comes to America. His name…is MC Hammer.”
- Returns to stage without MC Hammer. Insists several times that “Everybody turn around! Everybody turn around!”
- Sees that audience realizes MC Hammer is not behind them and is becoming irate. Tries Vader voice again. “Siiiiiiileeeeence!” he commands, unsucessfully, approximately a dozen times.
- Rushes backstage again. Yells, “Hammer! Take the mic! Take the mic, Hammer!”
Halfway through Shack n’D Pack’s performance, I felt like I’d been transported into an existentialist nightmare—-a “Waiting for Hammer,” if you will, wherein Shack n’D Pack represents humanity’s absurd and heartbreaking attempt to find purpose in a world where Hammer may or may not show up. More than once, I worried seriously whether MC Hammer might actually be dead.
He wasn’t. But when he did finally step out, in trademark boxy suit, low-cut T-shirt, and parachute pants, I couldn’t help but wonder: is that MC Hammer? Or just fucking Shack n’D Pack in an MC Hammer costume?