I love concerts. I love every opportunity to go see live music. I’ve lost count as to how many concerts I’ve been to, but I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 or 50 shows. However, in all of the concerts I’ve been to, none was worst than last night’s Black Eyed Peas show at the City Lights Pavilion.
Everything turned out to be a colossal disappointment, from the venue to the opening acts, to the Black Eyed Peas themselves. My level of anticipation and excitement before the show only added to the disappointment when Bethany and I walked out early. Many different factors contributed to this culmination of crappiness:
The Venue – The Denver City Lights Pavilion – which is essentially a big circus tent in the Pepsi Center parking lot. During the summer they pitch the tent, bring in a few rolling street vending carts and you have an instant concert "venue" – this circus is anything but. With nice asphalt floors (again parking lot), the sound does nothing but bounce off the floor onto the tents, back down to the floor, making the acoustics intolerable. Secondly it may have been isolated to this show, but they sold waaaay too many tickets! They had about 10-15 rows of seats, then the rest was standing general admission. We were packed worse than sardines. I’ve been to many GA shows before, but this was the worst show in terms of crowding. Lastly, the Pavilion is just one big flat surface, with no curvature. The 4-5 feet high stage essentially took away the crowd’s ability to see the performers, relegating us to watch the big screen.
The Opening Acts – Two words: horrible and degrading. The first act, Flipsyde was a complete group of posers. Their instrumentation makes up of a guy playing turn-tables, a lead rapper, an electric guitar player, and a guy who pretends to play acoustic guitar (he wears it more he plays it). They treated the crowd like crap (throwing their water bottles at them), and turned out to be major posers. The guitar player kept angling his guitar in weird directions (especially the favorite guitar-neck-pointing at the crowd move). They just looked like losers.
Next up came the Pussycat Dolls (PCD), a group which I didn’t realize was playing until right before the show. If I realized they were going to take the stage, we would have intentionally come late. For those lucky enough not to know PCD, they’re basically like the 2000’s version of the Spice Girls. They’re a group of no-talent hacks that dress up as skanks and flaunt around on stage, while the one girl with 98% of the group’s talent sings. Their moves were so raunchy, I half expected to see brass poles up on stage (they did have little chairs for one of their routines). Their presence on the stage was so degrading, especially to women. I understand that the hip-hop scene employs sex to sell their product (as many other industries do), but this is far over the top. I felt gross watching it.
Finally the Black Eyed Peas. My disappointment regarding this show stems from two majors problems: their egos and their politicizing at a commercially-exploited event.
Their egos: The four members are extremely talented, I’ll give them that. I understand that they want to celebrate their talent, and I also appreciate the concept of being featured in a song, or taking a solo. However, the Peas went far beyond this by each taking a song where they each individually did a solo (many times just improv’ing a random song). They spent so much time doing this that they actually only played 6 songs in the original set (we left before the encore). While the original intention may have been to demonstrate that each can hold their own musically, I took it as pure egotism. Look, if you think you’re that good solo, then go on your own during an off-time and go perform by yourself. I would definitely be open to them taking part of a song to do a solo, but doing your own song is out of line. To make matters worse, the rest of the group disappeared from the stage during the solo!
Politicizing commercial exploitation: Something that caught me off-guard when I showed up was that the show was called the "Honda Civic Tour" and "presented by Verizon Wireless" was plastered on the screen between the sets. You don’t typically see this much commercialism integrated with the actual show. Ultimately I accepted it, but it took getting used to. Then as soon as the Peas took the stage, they started going on political rants, specifically about illegal immigration and border security, then plastered the Mexican flag on the big screen. Then during one of the songs they put a picture of the monkey (from their latest album cover) on the screen, then swapped it with images of George Bush, Dick Cheney, as well as others.
I already have problems with blatantly politicizing their shows. If the Black Eyed Peas want to express their opinions that’s fine: put the message on your web site, show up and demonstrate at a rally (even play at a rally) – but I didn’t pay $35 so I can come hear your political views. Also, when you resort to personal attacks you’ve demonstrated that you cannot participate in an intellectual dialog – and putting pictures of Bush with monkeys doesn’t do anything.
Secondly, when you have so much commercialism at the concert, you’ve essentially sold your rights to express a radical political opinion. Does Honda and Verizon want to be associated with Mexican flag-waving and equating the president to a monkey? Great image for their companies.
At the end of this day, this concert struck me in so many negative ways that we left early, and I think at this point it’s safe to say that this is the worst show that I’ve ever been to. Bad shows like this help you appreciate the great shows, and it’s never a waste if you learned something from it. I’ve learned that I need to think twice when I think about going to a mainstream hip-hop show, and definitely will never go see the Black Eyed Peas again.