November 5, 2011
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Attending Chris Brown's concert Saturday night at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater was a test of devotion, with the traditionally long, 15 minute walk from the parking lot through the venue grounds and into the amphitheater being the least of fans' worries.
Elongated by temps that dipped below 50 degrees, the trudge was actually
a welcome opportunity to raise body temperature. Once inside, I quickly
realized it was freezing and I had to do something else to avoid
turning into a popsicle. From the moment I entered the venue and was
greeted by the Cat Daddy contest in front of the Power 106 booth, the
only path to survival was clear–keep moving.
Some found salvation in a warm but tough churro or a watered down hot chocolate (I used mine to keep my hands warm more than anything) while others, with the foresight to bring gloves or not, cuddled up with their significant others. Although Compton rapper Tyga and auto-tune aficionado T-Pain did a good job of warming up the crowd both literally and figuratively for Brown, the temp didn't really turn up until the countdown on the Jumbotron expired, announcing his arrival to the stage.
Now, had this been a typical stand-at-the-mic, sit-with-a-guitar or behind-a-piano-type R&B show, all folks who came out without a cuddle buddy might not have made it to the end of the set. But Brown's high energy performance kept the crowd moving as they rocked out to his most popular singles, and (whether they realized it or not) attempted to mimic his intricate dance moves in the limited space at their seats.
This mirroring was probably the most entertaining things in the audience. (Especially the dude in the denim suit and matching baseball cap with blue glow in the dark trim. He appeared to have memorized the choreo from all of Brown's past music videos and wasn't afraid to show it in the aisles, or improvise the stuff he didn't know.)
Brown, himself, dressed in army fatigues, a black tee, black skully and black shoes to match, effortlessly delivered the high energy choreographed dance moves in sync with his army of back-up dancers during the show's opening sequence. If you didn't know where you were, you'd have thought it was an opener for a Broadway play involving cat burglars.
“Where all my sexy ladies at tonight?,” Chris asked his fans. “Did ya'll come here to party? I know it's cold but fuck it.” With that, Brown rocked the stage for an hour long set that took us through clusters of his dance hits (“Run It,” “I Can Transform Ya,” “Wall to Wall,” etc.) followed by love ballads (“Take You Down,” “Wet The Bed,” “No Bullshit,” etc.) mixtape tracks and ending with his chart-toppers.
The one thing the audience probably could've done without was all of the costume changes, none of which were drastically different or remarkable impressive–slacks and a button down white shirt and suspenders; the same slacks, button down shirt and suspenders with the addition of a suit jacket adorned with a glowing red heart for the love ballads portion of the show; just the slacks after he stripped to entice and straddle a girl, who'd become the most envied woman in the venue, on stage for a sexy performance of “Take You Down.”
Maybe Brown switched his gears so often to make the audience feel like we were getting more bang for our buck, but I suspect that he was using those opportunities to catch his breath.
In between sets, the DJ glossed over some of Brown's hits including: “Poppin,” Strip for This,” “Kiss, Kiss,” “Crawl,” “Ain't No Way,” “Strip,” “100 Bottles,” and “Stuntin is a Habit” before pumping Swizz Beatz' new song featuring Brown called “Dance Like a White Girl” that got a mixed reception from the crowd.
A few days ago I openly declared my desire to see him appear as a convincing rapper on stage. Although he's still got it vocally and the audience seemed to be mouthing his lyrics word for word (as evidenced by the all the breath you could see catching on the wind), he didn't balance things convincingly. A lot of the mixtape stuff didn't go over as well as his radio hits, and understandably so. But for the die-hards, adept in all things Breezy, their excitement boiled over for the more esoteric rap songs that quickly transitioned back into a performance of two of his most popular singles “No Air” and “Beautiful People” by which point it didn't matter if your fingers were purple.
Critic's Bias: I'm team Rihanna.
The Crowd: Couples and teenagers… gag me with a spoon!
Overhead in the crowd:
“He's so sexy”
“That's my boo!”
“Take me down!” (a plea during his song of the same title)
“What's the quickest way to get to Chris Brown?” (Tichina Arnold, who played Pam on the 90s TV show “Martin,” asked a security guard near me)
I Can Transform Ya
Wall to Wall
Yo (Excuse Me Miss)
Leave the Club
Body 2 Body
Wet the Bed
Take You Down
Super Turnt Up
Random notebook dumps:
- Is Chris sure he's not from LA? During "Wall to Wall” he mixed in his "hold up” with the "hold up” from Dr. Dre's "Kush” and he had a nonstop dougie that endured throughout the night.
- Tyga looks like a mix between Michael Jackson and Kanye West- red leather jacket, chunky gold chain.
- My ears have never rung so much from screaming at a concert before and I've been to my fair share of teenage concerts. This is ridiculous.