Live: The 106 & Park Tour Stops At Irving Plaza, Goes On Forever
Better than: a night spent without screaming.
It's like a horror movie: I can still hear their screams. When I close my eyes, all I hear is screams.
BET's 106 & Park is an after-school music video request show; a TRL with no real demographic other than "black." It skews toward young girls, but you wouldn't know that by the videos they play; right now, one can vote for clips by artists ranging from the prepubescent Jawan Harris to bullet-throwing Ace Hood; from New Boyz to grown-up Beyoncé; from churchgoing Mary Mary to ancient E-40. One can't imagine Meek Mill's audience waiting, waiting, waiting, oh it's still ringing, hold on, hold on, oh my gosh, yes, the line's finally clear, oh my gosh, and then voting for "Tupac Back," but somehow Meek Mill gets on the countdown. (Or maybe record companies just have a direct line to the phone bank. Yeah, that's probably it.)
The 106 & Park concert series is far more focused. It is a night for girls who like boys but aren't quite sure what to do with them; tweens so confused by the changes in their bodies that they can do nothing but scream when a boy looks in their direction. Just the idea of a boy paying notice is enough to make them flip out, and the boys onstageolder or younger, but much more awareare experts at manipulation. If there's ever a lull in the show (and believe me, there are many), they know that the quickest fix is to flash just the slightest bit of the lower half of a stomach. Girls go nuts for that shit.
Diggy Simmons, poised far beyond his years, looked out from beyond the stage for "the one." Girls screamed as he and a security guard conferred for three whole minutes. Girls never stopped screaming. He finally invited a fan onstage, giving her a bouquet of roses, placing her in a folding chair. He sang to the crowd, he sang to her. They locked eyes and, just as he was about to kiss her on the cheek, she buried her face in her hands and cried, uncontrollable. He settled, aiming a peck at her unlined forehead. She cried some more, leaving a puddle of tears, sweat and hormones where she sat.
But if girls walked into the 106 & Park concert as just thatgirlsthey left as women. Look no further than the headliner, Tygaa bad boy in the loosest sense since Jay Electronica. Or actually, look no further than "Keke," a stunner with her shoulders back who Tyga pulled up from the crowd. "Keke" had been dressed in a tight white dress that recalled Basic Instinct; they spooned while standing up, with Tyga so overwhelmed by either her curves or how much he was paying her that he sometimes forgot to sing. The song ended; she disappeared stage right, never to be seen again. A lesson for girls: boys could be played with, too.
It wasn't just tight pants and folding chairs, though! There were four hours of screaming to be exhausted; a marathon of a nightmare with eyes held open and ears left unplugged. Mindless Behavior, a group of 13-year-olds dressed in Janet Jackson's leftovers, performed intricate dance moves and challenged the idea that boys only want one thing. These boys want nothing to do with that one thing! Keep that one thing away! They just like to vogue, even if they have to sing love songs to do so: "We're from two different worlds... but girl, I've got a future." Jesus. At least hold a girl's hand before you propose! Soft doesn't even describe these four. Ciara came out during their set; she was more of a man than they were.
If Mindless Behavior was a hug, Lil Twist was a hickey. He bounced around, an adult still in boy's clothing. (Old enough to smoke, old enough to vote, but not old enough to dress himself, apparently.) He snapped over Lex Luger beats, making them sound for the first time "fun" and/or "toothless" as opposed to "menacing." Still, he used the N-word, a strange addition to an otherwise anaesthetized night; even Tyga censored his own lyrics. (Most of the crowd left as Lil Twist closed out his set at 10 o'clock. Parents did not want to stick around for Tyga, their kids never getting to see each of his five costume changes.)
Every so often, and especially before and after the baB2K that is Mindless Behavior, the host sharply instructed girls to not push forward; I stood by an empty bar, far taller and older than anyone around me. At least I knew what my excuse was: I was being paid to be there. Nearby lurked a pocket of bros in cargo shorts and v-necks, who I assumed were either chaperones or creeps. (It turns out that they were cameras-out Tyga fans. Why they were there for the entire showfor Mindless Behavior!I have no idea.)
Critical bias: "I'm getting too old for this shit."John McClane, Die Hard. (Also, Jeff Rosenthal, 106 & Park concert.)
Overheard: "No, I don't need a drink bracelet. I'm her mother!"a woman at the will-call booth. Some would say she made the wrong choice.
Overheard, part two: "Can I slow it down for a second?"Trevante, an opening act, after he had just performed a cover of Usher's "Nice N Slow."
Random notebook dump: Every singer sang with an exclamation point, presumably to counter the girls' screaming. Four hours of screaming, screaming on top of screaming, like seagulls on the beach. Their yells had bells and whistles. I left with a headache. I've had bigger headaches, but I don't know if I've had a worse headache.
Set lists: Tyga: Hypnotized Well Done Roger That I'm So Raw Real or Fake Cali Love We Up Holla at Me Teach Me How to Dougie G Shit Don't Wake Me Up Don't Regret It Now Right Above It b/w "Make It Rain" and "Hard in the Paint" Maybe Snapback Back Ballin Loyalty YMCMB DJ Medley ("Right Above It", "6' 7'," "Miss Me", "Up All Night," "Shit it on Em," "Moment 4 Life") Regular Girl Reminded Bedrock T-Raww (Taylor Gang Remix) Look at Me Now (sing-a-long) Deuces Far Far Away
Lil Twist: Carte Blanche At the Moment Drumma on the Beat Wind It (Shut the Club Down) Hey Lil Mama (with Khalil) Every Step Love Affair
Mindless Behavior: Number One Girl My Girl Scoop/Swag (Dylan Allen) Mrs. Right (with Diggy Simmons) My Girl (with Ciara)
Diggy Simmons: Everybody Late Like Em All Thinkin' Bout You Copy/Paste Made You Look Great Expectations
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