All of us generally drift into a certain musical style that defines who we are or who we want to be. When people ask me what kind of music I like I generally say, "It depends on my mood, I really listen to a little of everything." For the most point that is 100% accurate. With the exception of rap, I can listen to just about anything.
So on Saturday night I threw caution to the wind and moved a little closer to my inner hip-hopper. (Is that even a word?)
The Black Eyed Peas, Ludacris and LMFAO blew in to the BOK Center much like the spring snowstorm and unleashed an amazing night of music, dance and theatrics.
I went to the October 2009 U2 show in Norman, and the BEP opened that show, but due to traffic issues I only got to see the last half of their last song for that show. So I had no idea what I was in for, other than what I had seen on award shows and other TV performances. I must say I was really blown away.
The night started off with LMFAO. If you are in (or close to) the texting generation then you should be able to figure out what that means. If not ask a teen. LMFAO is a Grammy-nominated electro hop group from Los Angeles, California that consists of DJ/Rappers Redfoo (Stefan Gordy) and Sky Blu (Skyler Gordy). Both artists are related to Berry Gordy—Redfoo is the son of the Motown Records founder and Sky Blu is his nephew. Songs like "Yes," "Shots," "I’m in Miami Bitch" got the crowd hyped and ready for the rest of the night. These guys seemed to perfect the double meaning words, but turned the joint into a dance club with driving beats and light screens.
Ludacris was up next, celebrating his 10th year in the business, he is arguably the most successful solo hip-hop artist ever. He has also branched out into film. On this night he was back to his roots and first love of performing. It is funny to me, I don’t listen to Top 40 music as a whole, but I do hear bits and pieces of songs from time to time through my sons and other outlets. There were a lot of Luda’s songs that I found myself saying, "Oh that is him?" With songs like "Move Bitch," "Area Codes," and "Act a Fool" he was in prime form and showed his appreciation for Tulsa. He also did a good job of promoting his new album without sounding desperate, "Battle of the Sexes" dropped last Tuesday and is currently the number 1 album in the country. A feat for which he thanked the crowd for helping him achieve and playing the first single off the disc, "How Low."
After Ludacris wrapped up his there was a compete transformation of the stage. It looked nothing like the stripped down set that both other groups had used. It had a very elaborate staging, a massive tower platform that housed the band and DJ and an opened up front stage. Maybe being with U2 and performing on their expansive "Mothership" rubbed off and gave them some big ideas.
The set starts with a "booting or uploading" of the system, engaging each aspect of the show to make sure it is ready to go. What was cool about this was that on the 2 side screens was a computer generated giant neon green head that served as narrator and in the middle seemingly hovering over the stage was the same giant head. I was fascinated by this, then remembered all of the fog being pumped into the show and the extremely sheer curtain hanging over the band area. Both of these combined for this very cool effect.
Air blast and more smoke gave way to each group member appearing from below the stage slowly raised to surface level amidst green laser light. Again a cool effect to add to the theatrics of the night. Once all players were in place, the night for the Peas began with the mega-hit, "Let’s Get It Started." This song has become a bit of an anthem and a party standard. This show had been billed as a huge party and lived up to every bit of that claim.
Will.i.am, Fergie, Taboo, and Apl.de.ap work every well together on stage and are completely in unison in everything the do. Each building off of the other as the night progresses. As they poured through their biggest hits, "My Humps," "Pump It," "Don’t Phunk With My Heart" and others the evening seemed to build also.
Each group member was allowed time to showcase their solo talents at different points in the show. The standout points of these were Taboo being hoisted on a futuristic looking motorcycle and propelled across the room to the delight of all of the near capacity crowd.
This gave way to Fergie (Stacy Ferguson) having her chance in the spotlight, a place she made the most of with her solo hits, "Fergalicious," "Glamorous," which she shared the stage with Ludacris and her biggest solo hit to date, "Big Girls Don’t Cry." She even took the chance to sing a portion of the state song "Oklahoma." Then stating, "When I was this tall (motioning to her waist) my mom took me to see that play and it is because of that play that I am where I am today, so Thank You Oklahoma!"
Last was will.i.am whose intro was nothing short of amazing, as he came onstage dressed as a robot and proceeded down the catwalk that had rotated into a DJ turntable podium. Will is noted as being a very accomplished DJ and he took pride in showing off his skills. Shifting from pop to soul to rock music and playing with the crowd as this area elevated above the crowd giving him an even bigger ovation for what he was doing.
Each of these short sets added immensely to the show and gave each other a much needed rest. The Black Eyed Peas put everything they have into each performance and leave all they have out on the stage.
Wrapping up the show with "Where’s the Love?" before two encore songs that included "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feelin." It looked as if the group didn’t want the show to end and I am quite certain for those in attendance they would have been thrilled for it to go on.
This is a group that loves what it is doing, several times over saying how it was a dream come true to be on stage. They are very gracious to each crowd and made sure to point out all fans from the 3rd deck to the floor area and give thanks for coming out and supporting them.
Even if you are not a fan of this genre of music, the show itself is well worth going to. I highly recommend catching them live.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
About the writer:
Ernie Osborn is a California transplant that has been around the music business much of his life. He has been in bands and currently plays guitar and sings when called upon to do so. He also writes articles in the Tulsa Speaks section entitled, "Whatever Happened To…" check it out.