Vanilla Ice Creamed By Nostalgic CBGB Crowd

Packed house of New Yorkers greeted white-boy rapper's comeback, shouting, 'we want to laugh at you and go home.'

NEW YORK -- Vanilla Ice is such an easy target, people will pack a club at 12

bucks a head on a weeknight just to mock him.

The flash-in-the-pan white-boy rapper -- who seems to invite derision -- made his

quixotic comeback-attempt a notch more absurd by appearing Tuesday at the legendary

CBGB. The famed New York City punk club spawned the careers of such pioneering acts

as the Ramones, Television, Blondie and others in the mid- to late '70s.

So, to see Vanilla Ice prancing on its historic stage was, well, funny.

The 29-year-old artist formerly known as Robert Van Winkle may have had the last

laugh, though, since a good number of those in the predominately white,

twentysomething crowd seemed to be closet fans of Ice's signature hit, "Ice Ice Baby."

And most of the audience, for all its chiding of the singer, seemed to have a good time.

Not that anyone would suddenly mistake Ice for a musically talented artist. The show

coincided with the release of his Hard to Swallow, a thoroughly mediocre

rap/metal fusion album, his first offering since his 1994 hip-hop flop, Mind Blowin'.

Even so, many at the club who at first dismissed him as bogus eventually revealed a

nostalgic affection, however snide.

Before the show, a 27-year-old Queens man who identified himself only as MC Evil

Jesus said he is the Satanic anti-Ice. He even wrote a special version of "Ice Ice Baby"

called "Christ? No, Satan."

"He is the biggest poser in the known universe," said Evil Jesus, who was later

seen dancing and stage-diving to said poser's music.

Dag Shapshuk, a 23-year-old medical student originally from Miami, said mockingly that

Vanilla Ice "represents the true essence of hip-hop. I model my life after him." But

Shapshuk also confessed to paying $6 two years ago for a used copy of Ice's first album,

To the Extreme (1990), "just for 'Ice Ice Baby.' "

Ice, who began the day with an appearance on shock-jock Howard Stern's radio show,

took the stage an hour late, following irritated cries of "Quit smokin' crack and get

onstage" and "Yes, we all want to laugh at you and go home. We're tired."

Vanilla Ice and his five-piece band -- a drummer, two guitarists, a bassist and a DJ

perched high above the stage -- provided a capable imitation of a derivative

metal/hip-hop group. All save second rapper Casey Chaos and DJ Swamp were attired

in generic alterna-wear: T-shirts, jeans, obligatory goatees and tattoos.

Not that the crowd was always original. The audience didn't look that much different than

most of the band, and when Ice sprayed water on the crowd, it once responded by

pelting him with (duh) ice.

As the band chugged along, bouncing wildly to a sonic sludge, swiping riffs straight out

of thrash-punkers Rage Against the Machine's playbook, Ice somewhat capably rapped

out a stream of moronicisms.

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Vanilla_Ice/Zig-Zag_Stories.ram">"Zig-Zag

Stories" (RealAudio excerpt) was a lunkheaded ode to pot, and

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Vanilla_Ice/F-ck_Me.ram">"F-ck Me"

(RealAudio excerpt), like a few other Vanilla Ice numbers, was a rant against his

detractors. Ice followed up with some words of wisdom: "F--- you too, b----. Beeyatch. You

need to wake the f--- up."

Meanwhile, the audience grooved, clapping, moshing and responding enthusiastically to

Ice and Chaos' trite rap party-calls. Although shouts of "put your hands in the air" often

elicited a wave of middle fingers, Ice didn't seem to mind. When he wasn't rapping, he

wore a pleased, mischievous smirk and proved able to poke fun at himself by leading

chants of "Go white boy, go white boy, go."

He slogged through a few more Hard to Swallow tracks ("S.N.A.F.U.," "Scars")

and then finished with a garishly rocked-up version of "Ice Ice Baby." It was the

undeniable crowd-favorite, and the same people who came to deride Vanilla Ice with

smug superiority seemed to know all the words.

Calls for an encore were more insulting than enthusiastic, but Ice returned anyway, to

scattered cries of "F--- you" and derisive chants of "Go, ninja, go, ninja, go." Ice

proceeded to sink into further self-parody, introducing "Prozac" by saying, "Take your

Prozac, so we can gets crazy like Prozac" and singing "Stompin' Through the Bayou"

with a vocal effect that made him sound like Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned

English physicist who, due to a serious disability, speaks through a computerized voice.

Outside the club after the show, there was at least one person who -- while failing to

identify himself -- seemed honest enough to give props to Ice without irony.

"The set was all right," said the 25-year-old Middletown, N.J., native, who went by the

name John E. "I liked Vanilla Ice back in the day. I bought the album [Hard to

Swallow] and thought it was good."

Those who said they enjoyed Ice's show usually did so with a mix of guarded

enthusiasm and snide bemusement, however.

Andy Bennett, 22, said he genuinely enjoyed the show, but he couldn't do it with an

entirely straight face.

"I remember when 'Ice Ice Baby' came out, but I didn't buy the record," Bennett said. "I

did write a different version, called 'Nice Price, Baby.' It was about prostitution."