Best Buy Theater
Monday, September 19
Better than: Playing video games alone in your mom’s basement.
Earlier this summer, the Detroit rapper Big Sean played show at Irving Plaza that could have been described with the word “pandemonium. Know that last night’s Big Sean concert—a launch party for Gears Of War 3 attended by backpack-toting fanboys, a paltry smattering of ladies and Xbox suits—could not have been further from that experience. I easily breezed to the front of the venue and enjoyed what felt like an intimate living-room performance by the pretty boy ambassador of snapbacks and hashtag rhymes, who put on quite a lengthy set compared to most corporate-sponsored fare. But it was clear from the onset that attendees were more interested in zapping members of the Locust Horde and scuffling over tie-in swag than enjoying good hip-hop. Several people even somehow managed to play the game with laser focus during the entirety of Sean’s set. Talk about commitment!
Despite the challenge of rousing a disengaged crowd, Sean—draped in multiple gold Jesus chains and snug red jeans that matched his Red Wings cap—put on one of his strongest NYC live shows to date, and took us on a journey through his debut Finally Famous that was at times inspirational (“I Do It”, “Intro”), triumphant (“My Last”) or simply, high-energy fun (“Marvin & Chardonnay”). The sexy “Dance (A$$)” came complete with suggestive pelvic thrusts and innuendo; ironic since most of the guys in attendance probably knew their way better around an Xbox controller than around an actual woman.
Perseverance and self-esteem have long been ongoing themes at Sean’s concerts and last night he urged everyone to pursue their dreams and profusely gave thanks to those who had helped him attain his own success, leaving us all warm and fuzzy inside. Whether a testament to a good old-fashioned Midwestern upbringing or perhaps a literal interpretation of being signed to G.O.O.D. Music—the acronym does, after all, stand for Getting Out Our Dreams—this portion of the show served as a refreshing reminder that humility is not completely lost on hip-hop stars today. Chest-puffing album title aside, Big Sean is still just a kid who’s happy (and probably bewildered) to be where he is, and in that feel-good moment, all of the night’s previous distractions were overshadowed.
Critical bias: As far as I’m concerned, video games attained perfection with George Lucas’ seminal 1987 game Maniac Mansion, in which, among other things, you help a Pepsi-guzzling tentacle snag a record deal. Everything released subsequently pales in comparison.
Overheard: “Y’all the reason my grandma’s proud of me, my mama’s proud of me.”—Big Sean, during an aww-inducing moment with the audience.
Random notebook dump: In an age where artists like Drake and The Weeknd have made a career of lamenting the limelight (oh, the horror!), Big Sean may be the last rapper who’s actually happy to be famous.
Live This Life
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
I Do It
Marvin & Chardonnay