It wasn't easy dodging the throngs of young girls in pairs -- all dressed like Rihanna, compulsively documenting their every step with selfies -- at the Diamonds World Tour show at BB&T Center on this Day of Stoners, 2013. Meanwhile, Instagram indicated Rihanna was toking away, 4/20-style, backstage, peacefully enjoying the serene, smiling face of a big leafy pot cake made by a super fan. This fan was likely one of the ladies I was standing behind, or in front of while waiting to go through a metal detector.
Almost to the freedom of my seat, a security guard rushed me, hysterically motioning to my purse -- which looks like a small book bag -- yelling: "You can't bring that bag in here!" I ignored him, because, was he kidding? Another security guard came over. "You can't come in here with that," he ushered me outside. My press pass was useless, and I was suddenly banned from the Rihanna show before it even started.
When I petitioned at the security desk, they said they were on high alert because of the Boston Marathon bombings... Well, that cleared it up! A Rihanna concert in remote Sunrise, Florida, is totally like the same thing as the Boston Marathon, a national treasure established in 1897. Why wouldn't I, the music editor at the local alt weekly stash a pressure cooker explosive in my tiny book bag? Didn't matter that I readily opened every single compartment to show every single guard it contained not much more than my business cards and ear plugs?
Perhaps it was because even my mother admitted I look like I could be the sister of that piece of shit bomber number two?
After the awesome profiling experience, I made my way to my genuinely awesome seat. I was so close, I could see Rihanna's belly button. It was some consolation after being treated like a national threat. Never mind that A$AP Rocky's set featured the sounds of guns being cocked and Rihanna had a whole "Wanted by the FBI" bit.
Now on the to the review.
Seizure-inducing lights lit the room, and A$AP Rocky bounced on the stage. He was backed by an MC, live guitar, drums, and keys. This trend of playing to a live band -- one which was echoed by Rihanna -- at times, gets the sound moving in a very corny direction. This fashionista of the hip-hop world got off to a slow start, but hit hard with a rowdy finish.
He was, a vision in white, his socks or baggy leggings were pulled up to the bottom edge of his Pyrex shorts. It's a daring look, and only a dude like A$AP Rocky -- with his clean style with a gold grill edge -- can pull it off. Hats off to you, sir.
Rocky sat on a literal throne, yelling, "Came to this motherfucker to party." He seemed intent on bringing back Will Smith's word "jiggy." No doubt, Rocky's got the ability to make rhymes that stick, talent to deliver them, and a cool image, but last night, his story about a girl's "titty" on South Beach wasn't exactly fitting for the teenaged crowd. Just sayin'.
His new song with Skrillex, "Wild for the Night," spewed dubstep all over the beautiful, pure 99 Jamz as I drove up. This is a station that I consider sacred in its loyalty to hip-hop, R&B, and gospel music. And honestly, if there were a place to go to avoid any form of "EDM," it was 99.1 FM. But in the flashing white lights of the arena, the song lit a fire under a lazy crowd's ass.
And nobody forgot it was 4/20. Before segueing into "Hands on the Wheel" -- singing the hook himself -- he asked: "How many weed smokers we got in this building tonight?" Lots. We could tell by unusually green aromas in the bathroom. His set closed out with a spirited "Fuckin' Problems" which really did have people partying, jiggy-like.
Showered in yellow light and swathed in a black sheet, Rihanna kicked off her show with a moment of "intimacy," singing "Mother Mary" alone onstage.
The singer has an audience with diverse tastes, and with the Diamonds tour, it seemed that she catered to the entirety of them. Let's break the show down into each of its parts: There was the Street Radio Stripper Party portion, which was followed by the Caribbean Vibes period, then there was the Whatever time, which was all rounded out by the Gay closer.
Street Radio Stripper Party
The reason I'm calling the beginning of RiRi's set the Street Radio Stripper Party portion isn't to insult anyone or degrade women. It was sort of defined by "Birthday Cake" and "Talk That Talk." She was dressed in a mesh top that showed ornate booty shorts underneath. Her black boots reached mid-thigh. The choreography brought a lot of attention to the area just above the top of those boots. The sort of crotch grabbing she and her dancers did lacks the irony and humor of crotch-grabbers that came before her (see: Madonna). It's a little too "sexy" and at the same time less actually sexy.
Rihanna is one of those people who comes across as innocent no matter how filthy she's acting. Maybe it's her baby face. She also seems like a tomboy at times. This allows her to dance like a straight up stripper and dress any way she wants and still come across as not trashy.