Supermarket consumerism—living life from the belly of a shopping trolley—is the theme of the 90s. Right there on the bumper reel looping in the lead as the crowd gathers about, clip-clopping into their eventual seats. Over in the distance a shimmer of gold as a man in parachute pants and fishnet shirt gets mobbed for his MC Hammer costume.
Afternoon cartoons were a thing. Wanting to do homework was not. It was a time of rolling through the aisles in that vain search for things within reach as the shelves pass by. Those arms, that stretching, the very nature of listening to the radio and keeping that dial on just that one station that seems to play most of what the ears find palatable.
The I Love The 90s concert tour focuses on music, specifically the commercial radio friendly rap, hip-hop and R&B of that generation not otherwise ripped knee-deep in grunge and alt. Nothing to do with cartoons, trading cards with rock hard gum or that sad edge of realising peaking in high school is the best some will have.
Here and there they’ll play the songs of this generation’s time capsule that has everyone else citing back the lyrics. Never heard of some of them, but between will be the familiar tunes. The chart topping hits that bring back lining up in uniforms and barely keeping awake through the first class of the day.
It’s either top of the order with Kool Moe Dee and “Go See The Doctor” then Young MC with “Bust a Move” or the other way around in some playlist combination. Doesn’t matter which, they play to the crowd and cover one or two between them all the same. And once more the ears fall back to the sounds of barely reaching the front door to throw down the backpack and dread the looming slate of homework.
Coolio squeezes between the two with hints at a Prince tribute with “C U When U Get There” which delves into a nod to Muhammad Ali. Before that really takes over, the stage swings back to finish out the wild and rolls with “Fantastic Voyage” and “Gangsta’s Paradise”.
There are no intermissions per se. Instead, a talk back and survey of the audience, dragging out whatever time is necessary before the next act saunters up to the stage. The host, or what you call the emcee of the night, has a few from the front rows sing gargling their beer with their chins reaching for the rafters. It’s a strained position, and the more that step up the more time passes into the night as the crackle of the ear drums sound off the unsilence between the next artist.
One break is long enough that it rounds upward of a half hour. The anachronistic MacBook Pro at the turntable either cracking through or some other failure. And they scramble to find a replacement against the baying of the crowd. Reminiscent of no time period in particular, but of all times where the computer fails and the backup you had stashed away gets called up into action and hopefully was recent enough that it’s even anything close to being part of a backup strategy. If it’s not already in a format no longer supported. If you had a backup in the first place.
Therein the audience experiences that joy of the 90s. Sitting in a non-stop block of pop R&B and hip-hop where the hits are comin’ atcha and then the silence of noise that buffers between songs you want to listen to, or the ones you’re actually piquing at. Stale air voids the lock-in with a total sense memory, yet it’s right up there in the days of wondering what else to not do on the weekend while all your friends are friending it up with each other.
All-4-One takes it back to “I Swear” and Color Me Badd with “I Wanna Sex You Up” among their other hits and the choreography recalls the fondness for the ballads to keep in sync. Songs to chill down between the frazz and tempo of the bridge ends. The slower the song the more it tunes into the downbeat memories, whatever they may be. There to remind you about the the crashes that follow the crests.
Had Muhammad Ali not died the day before the tributes may have been a little out of place. The closing bell with Salt-N-Pepa bring out this leg’s tour roster to strut and sing about in memoriam. It’s a long night after three hours, with this being either the third or something tribute to the boxer. Thankfully it’s not the closing number, as the double-back of “Push It” and “Let’s Talk About Sex” reset the mood and really take out the house.
Throwback to the times and the ears sit right in that spot on the radio nodding along as it all comes flooding back. Swigs of water later and much into the next the throat is as scratchy still.
Moving on down a few rows of section 112 clear of others at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky on 4 June 2016. Start time of 20:00 is, as with all concerts, a suggestion and it’s not until thirty minutes later before the first tunes hit the track.
Reviewed on Sunday, 3 July 2016