With Yelawolf, Playboy Tre, Mayday
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Atlanta rapper-singer Bobby Ray Simmons was overwhelmingly successful at reaching his mixed audience over the course of a jam-packed 65-minute performance on Tuesday. Clad in a tight white T-shirt with a vest draped over his muscular, but skinny frame, B.o.B could have just as easily been a member of an earnest pop-rock act -- and less than half of the crowd was dressed for a traditional hip-hop show, anyhow. Just as often as he postured and smacked the air, he had a guitar around his neck -- and not in the way Lil Wayne "plays." A consummate showman, it seemed B.o.B would've been playing a kazoo if he thought it would get the crowd amped up.
And amped they were, although Alabama rapper Yelawolf -- sporting a Trent Reznor circa 1989 haircut and a baggy red tank that read "Know Your Rights" -- shares little more than one degree of separation via Big Boi with the night's headliner. Like the world's most gifted gutter punk, the rail-thin, tattooed miscreant stalked through half an hour of heavily adulterated, multi-syllabic verses. A segment of the semi-packed house dutifully waved middle fingers for "F.U.," but it wasn't until "Mixin' Up the Medicine" that the air filled with fragrant kush smoke and everyone got unwound.
When the stage curtains parted for B.o.B, a full band with backup singers and dancers were behind him to aid a non-stop performance that could easily fit the energy level on the Warped Tour. Additionally, many of his most recognizable songs include him teaming with Paramore's Hayley Williams ("Airplanes"), Weezer's Rivers Cuomo ("Magic"), and a hijack of Vampire Weekend ("The Kids"), cater to a pop-punk crowd. Between the backing vocalists and Bobby Ray's own substantial vocal abilities, each collaboration was performed without the feeling that there was someone missing from the stage.
Although there were times that B.o.B playing the guitar was a captivating image, when he played the Coldplay-ish "Letters from Vietnam," Revolution felt a little too much like a coffee shop. Many months after it was the hottest song in the country, "Nothin' on You" earned the effusiveness one would expect, but it turned out to be the bounce of "I'll Be in the Sky" that provided the inspirational high of the night. From the decision to tour with more of a purist rapper like Yelawolf, to the tossing of a pair of new sneakers into the crowd, to B.o.B's application of some very thoughtful-looking specs during certain songs, there was much that felt heavily calculated to leave every segment of the audience fulfilled. Near the end, he went to the sleek Brooklyn avant rock act MGMT's "Kids," which has figured into his sets for months now. While limbs shook loose nearly everywhere, many of the hip-hop heads staked out in front of the stage seemed to have no idea what was going on. A shame, because that moment was entirely for them.
Better Than: The all-too-common hip-hop experience of watching a dude backed by a DJ for an hour.
Personal Bias: Playing 17 songs in just over an hour with virtually no breaks is a good way to keep the crowd engaged, but also takes away from creating separate moments for specific songs.
The Crowd: You name it. Lyrikill.com represented with his neon necklace, lots of b-boys came up to talk to Yelawolf after his set, and then there were loads of clean-scrubbed kids who only seemed to know "Nothin' on You" and "Airplanes."
I See Ya
Past My Shades
Letters From Vietnam
Lovelier Than You
Don't Let Me Fall
I'll Be In The Sky
Nothin' On You
Teach Me How to Dougie
Kids (MGMT cover)