Lil Wayne, T.I. & 2 Chainz at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 8/18/2013
There comes a time in every boy's life where he learns an inadvertent anatomy lesson with the help of some overzealous audience members, their crotches, and a jumbotron.
Sunday night was that night for many a Houston boy, because children were running everywhere at the Lil Wayne/T.I./2 Chainz "America's Most Wanted" concert while the dank ran thick in the air, and one very naked crotch was splayed across the Pavilion's huge screens. Congrats, folks. Your boys are now men at the ripe old age of eight, and they've learned the word "jumbogina."
I suppose I should have expected it; this was a Weezy concert, after all, not church, but it was still kind of jaw-dropping to see a giant, very nude crotch being shoved in Lil Wayne's face as he tried to rap. That's kind of how the night went, though. All three artists produced jaw-dropping moments, but perhaps in more of a puzzling way than anything else.
The rest of the night was just kind of all right, with one big exception: Lil Wayne.
From the moment 2 Chainz, the first of the three bigger names on the bill, took the stage, there was a bit of a strange vibe from the crowd in response to his performance. Some folks were really hyped and into it, but for the most part, the crowd's energy was super-low energy. It was pretty obvious that most of the audience members weren't there specifically to see 2 Chainz, and it was easy to see why.
The Atlanta rapper's music doesn't translate very well into a live venue; its studio production is laid on with a heavy hand, which is what makes helps 2 Chainz have such a draw in the first place. So when he's performing "Beez In the Trap" or "Birthday Song" -- both of which he did -- in person, without all the technology-added frills it's hardly a moving experience. He just kind of yelled into the mike, and it was hard to tell what song it was, even with the help of his onstage DJ and the crowd. Also, he didn't play "Mercy," which was really disappointing given it's been his biggest song to date.
After his short 50-minute set, T.I. was up. By this point, the sun had gone down, the air had cooled off, and the vibe in the venue had changed from mellow and sanguine to more of a "fuck yeah" feeling. Perhaps it had to do with the four band members T.I. has onstage, or the two hype men he uses as filler, but the crowd definitely responded with much more enthusiasm from the first song.
It's hard, though, to rap over a live band, and T.I. is no exception to that rule. There were some sketchy points where it was difficult to tell just what the hell he was rapping, and the song choices -- stuff like "U Don't Know Me" and "What You Know" -- were great for getting the crowd hyped, since they're some of his more popular tracks, but they were perhaps a bit too much of a throwback to his old stuff. He's got a new album out, but he didn't pull much from it.
He did, however, throw in a couple of his newer songs. They were in somewhat of a weird juxtaposition to his older, more thug-life themed stuff, but well-performed and -received nonetheless. His verse from Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is a standout both on the track and in concert; it was -- dare I say -- cute to see T.I. kinda hopping around all jacked from the pop-heavy tune. Perhaps if he'd been given a longer set, we would have seen more than a set heavy with older songs, but his time was limited to make way for the headliner.
Review continues on the next page.