Citizen Cope can’t cut it

Citizen Cope began his 40-city tour this past Wednesday at Higher Ground. After opening the act, Alice Smith’s set, Cope took the stage at about 10:15 p.m. with bleary, squinting eyes and a stoned swagger. Cope and his four-piece band began the set with “Hurricane Waters,” a slightly upbeat song about a troubled relationship that was a head-bobbing opener to the show. What was worrying was that it seemed like at any moment Cope would fall asleep at his mic. Cope normally has a look of relaxed indifference on his face, but during the show it was taken to the next level with closed eyes and an emotionless demeanor. The band must have slept well that night, after carrying Cope’s lackluster performance for so long. As he settled into the show, Cope began playing sedate songs that completely contradicted the mood of a crowd that did not want to chill out and who more interested in grinding their lower extremities onto the closest warm body. When I wasn’t being yelled at by tiny women because I was apparently infringing on their personal space, I was yawning or checking my watch. Oftentimes it was difficult to hear him over the chatter of the crowd. Halfway through the show I felt like leaving my prime spot near the stage to listen less actively at the back of the ballroom. Copes distinctive lazy hip-hop/singer songwriter style is effective on his studio albums, but doesn’t translate well on stage. A lot of the time Cope stared blankly at god-knows-what while absent-mindedly picking at the strings of his guitar. The only times the crowd was really into the show was during his big hits like “Bullet and a Target,” and “Son’s Gonna Rise,” (Son’s Gonna Rise was the last song). The end left me wondering if that could possibly be all there was to the show. His “encore” featured Cope alone on the stage (which we already established was a bad idea due to his narcoleptic state), haphazardly picking at the strings of his guitar. This acoustic set included the song “200,000 (In Counterfeit 50 dollar bills)” was not exactly the “give me more” that I wanted.