On Saturday, Power 106 FM's Powerhouse mega concert at the Honda Center brought us closer to summer by offering a mix of FM's latest and the west coast's greatest–with a hearty slice of pop music thrown in the middle.
Opening act Sage the Gemini had a rough time getting the crowd going as they filtered into the arena. "Make some fuckin' noise!" he yelled on stage through horribly distorted house speakers. Despite having HBK label head and buzz worthy rapper IAMSU! at his side, the crowd wasn't feeling until it came time for his hit "Gas Pedal," which earned a roar from Power 106 listeners who no doubt hear that shit everyday on their drive into work.
Childish Gambino's set fared a little better, as blunts and excitement circulated heavily in the crowd. Sporting an undersized shirt and chubbies (radical shorts for men), the rapper born Donald Glover wasted no time getting into his track "Sweatpants," warming up the Honda Center even more.
About 45 minutes into the show, Juicy J rolled out to the stage in a pair of Jordan XIs and gold chains that were shiny enough put all the gaudy, fake neckwear in the audience to shame. The Memphis rapper's vocals remained distorted while the bass from his final track, "Slob on my Knob," vibrated our sternums.
The ratchet vibes gave way to some serious sexual energy asTrey Songz took his turn in the spotlight and garnered a collective swoon from female audience members. He offered Cali-tailored remixes of new West Coast hits–dedicating "Loyal" to the incarcerated Chris Brown–that, of course, lead to him taking his shirt off.
During a music-filled intermission, the crowd sang along to Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" so loud that a small riot ensued–obviously some folks were still hyped about her pre-show parking lot performance earlier in the day. One rather large fella in a bow tie (we're guessing 6'4, 300 lbs) incited a roar with a twerking performance that ended with him doing the splits in his row right before security tossed him out as he gave fans around him a pageant-esque wave.
Focus soon turned back to the stage as Power's head radio personality Big Boy made his first appearance of the night. He was hardly able to contain his excitement as his voice as he introduced the star of the night, Jennifer Lopez. With the release of her summer album AKA only a month away, Powerhouse was an ideal venue for the 44 year-old Puerto Rican popstar to make a lasting impression, which she definitely did. As J.Lo rose regally from an underground platform, she sported a black leotard contrasted against scrunched golden locks under a bedazzled gold Snapback, topped with spiked Black heels and a swath of sexy. Behind her, eight dancers wore polyester athletic tops with paisley print leggings on with canes in hand.
Dashing through her Ja Rule-era hits, J. Lo wasted no time throwing her sparkling hat into one of four front rows. Say what you will about her vocal ability, but the superstar's choreography has always been on point. Tight, pop-lock motions combined with the flavor of the Southside Bronx evoked screams from the crowd, while Lopez kept her game face screwed on tight during the masterful breakdown on "Get Right." Spatted at each of the stages midpoint, J. Lo thrust her ass in the direction of these large industrial fans on stage at several times, hovering over them like European tourists on bidets.
"A lot of people been asking me questions over the last few years" she said, "like where I'm from." Cheers rushed toward the stage from every section in anticipation of her hit "Jenny from the Block." Her vocals, more clear than anyone's of the night, were still tough to hear as she performed the 12 year-old smash. As an icing on the enthralling performance, a two-minute, '90s style dance number reminiscent of something off of MJs "Dangerous" ensued. It even included a few counts of J. Lo popping it on all fours before descended back underground leaving Powerhouse fully charged.
After that, the night's momentum naturally deflated for Top Dawg Entertainment artist Isiah Rashad, who was tasked with changing the vibe of the show from FM pop to Millenial LA gangsta rap. Not even a cameo from School Boy Q could really get the crowd's energy back to where it was pre-J.Lo. That is, until they cleared the way for Nicki Minaj, whose introduction took us back to the most iconic scene in "Training Day."
The incomparable curves of the Young Money emcee turned us all "Looking Ass Niggas" within her first 60 seconds, laced in black leather looking like a dominatrix and still more conservative than we've ever seen her. But the excitement was short lived as her barebones stage show, absent of dancers, a band, or dances moves ironically fall flat.
With dreads longer since the last time he was in OC, Wiz Khalifa and his band Kush and Orange Juice began their show with joints in hand and brought some surprising West Coast flavor to the show. Stomping his long legs across his body, Wiz only paused a couple of times to guffaw at the crowd. And as if a Snoop comparison was not imminent, Wiz not only took "Roll Up" into a Funkadelic bridge but covered "Ain't No Fun" so close to a tee that Kurupt and Warren G came out for their verses.
At 1 a.m., Big Boy stepped out in outdated jean shorts to introduce YG with a profanity laced spiel the FCC couldn't regulate. Chants of the rapper's name quaked the Honda Center. In a redundant request, an OG requests the crowd to turn up before running through YG's attributes like Michael Buffer. Up came DJ Mustard on the platform, with YG running up the stairs from offstage in a leather baseball jersey. Mustard cued cuts from My Krazy Life while the Bompton badass and his hypeman ran around the stage absorbing the last bit of energy the fatigued crowd retained with a cover version of "The Next Episode."
During another west coast cover–the Dogg Pound's "Let's Play House"–a cornrowed Daz Dillinger emerged with a blue rag waving in his back pocket and Kurupt. YG quickly became a hype man for the hip-hop legends during "Ride Wit Us." The K-Day vibes continued with appearances from Warren G and Sugafree. Despite the show's slow start with radio pop in the middle, it was good to see Powerhouse end with a bonafide West Fest.
Overheard: "J. Lo on her bump, nigga! She doing Idol, Powerhouse…!" said an enthused young dude who almost enjoyed YG's set as much as J. Lo's showcase.
Crowd: Full of guys with flannels tied around their waists and leather backpacks on. At a concert?! In hip-hop, we call them hypebeasts, you might know them as douchebags. Sprinkled betwixt them were a few short dresses and high heels.
Random Notebook Dump: One last surprise of the night included drummer Travis Barker assisting YG in closing out the show by thrashing drums on "My Nigga" and "Who Do You Love."
Critic's Bias: In typical hip-hop fashion, the show started about an hour late. I was pissed, could have pregamed longer!