This past Friday night’s Power 106 Cali Christmas at the Gibson Amphitheatre was my last show-working experience as an intern for my beloved Live Nation, So-Cal–and experience is the perfect word for it.
The bill was packed at eight acts, and included Audio Push/Man and YG (who shared a 10-minute slot), Waka Flocka Flame, Fast East Movement, New Boyz, Rick Ross, Pitbull, Chris Brown and headliner Ice Cube.
A metal/rock/indie/etc. and country loyalist, Power 106 Cali Christmas was the first hip-hop show I’ve worked. That being said, this genre is not my strong point–this post does not serve so much as a review as it does to simply share my experience.
My first and foremost responsibility of the night until Rick Ross’ performance was to monitor MTV’s showfeed. So, for the first 90 seconds of every performance I was in the backstage area overseeing a feed box.
When I first made it to the front of the house, YG was on stage. I actually recognized the song he/they were performing (once it got to the chorus, anyway)–“Toot It and Boot It.” While I don’t appreciate the artist giving men another way to refer to the “hit-it-and-quit-it” ways of others, the song is catchy, and did make me pay attention. However, their set was extremely short and I had to make it backstage to run the MTV feed.
Next was Waka Flocka Flame–who I only knew as Waka Flocka. I’m not familiar with his music, but many of my friends at home are fans. Flocka had great energy, and at one point made his way around the entire lower-half of the amphitheatre.
After Waka Flocka, instead of returning to the video feed, I had to meet late-arriving photographers outside of the venue. While I was outside, I heard live music coming from the stage, hastily checked my setlist, then ran inside (photographers trailing) to see what was going on.
Special guest appearance #1 of the night: E-40 and Too Short. They played (do you say ‘played’ in regards to hip-hop shows?) crowd favorites, “B*tch” and “Slidin’ Down the Pole,” two more songs that I recognized. Again, more degrading references to women. So, I went back to my press post at the gate.
After the special appearance by E-40 and Too Short, everyone was expecting Far East Movement, but New Boyz came out next in their place. Backstage mix-ups and interviews altered the schedule, but New Boyz hit the stage strong with their hits “You’re a Jerk” and “Tie Me Down,” and others that they fit into their 20-minute set.
After much stress and confusion for my fellow intern and me regarding set times and photogs (or “press” as I learned they preferred to be called), Far East Movement took the stage at New Boyz’ scheduled slot. I saw the group, abbreviated FM, last fall when they were opened for LMFAO at the Palladium (another Live Nation venue).
Then, they were nothing more to me than comical dudes in spacesuits. Since last fall, they’ve proven themselves in the pop world with catchy songs such as “Girls On the Dance Floor” and “Like A G6.” Again, not so much my scene, but definitely songs that make me move. Did you know they were once interns to one of my supervisors, when she was at Interscope? Well, they were.
Next: Rick Ross. The crowd enjoyed the show. I watched this set from the backstage realm while enjoying snacks from Power 106’s party area.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Pitbull’s set after Rick Ross. Actually, I was more surprised by how many songs I recognized–and no, I don’t mean just his songs, but the songs he sampled from so many other artists. I wasn’t aware that Pitbull was still around, but yes, he’s still kickin’ in his fresh suits.
Now… the man I was most excited to see that night: Chris Brown. I’ll begin by saying I have very strong feelings about domestic violence–crazy girlfriend or not. It’s unacceptable. But this dude can dance. And sing. And just flat-out perform. Chris Brown is a performer, and has great, catchy dance songs to boot.
I was thoroughly enthralled (I don’t care if that’s redundant) during his performance, and I was very much anticipating “Take You Down,” as my roommate/best friend had warned me of this performance! Unfortunately, that night’s rendition of the song was not as… exciting… as others I’ve seen in YouTube videos, but nonetheless great.
Last, Ice Cube. Personally, I prefer him in Friday(s). However, I do have much respect for him–as he was featured in Korn’s “Children of the Korn” on 1998’s Follow the Leader. And if you weren’t aware, Korn have been my favorite band since around the time I was seven or eight years old.
This show was an entirely new experience for me in regards to my music/entertainment public relations and press career. The atmosphere was (obviously) very different from shows I usually go to and try to work at. The security guards behaved differently in that they practically let the audience do whatever they want, crowding into staircases and walkways (fire hazard, anyone?) and seemed to hardly be checking credentials at the backstage entrances (e.g. rude, hostile photographers). My poise was tested, but I passed “the test,” as my boss told me.
Overall, Power 106 should be very pleased with their show (the part fans saw anyway–I won’t get in to the disorganization, extremely rude and hostile photographers, etc.). The line-up was seeming with popular hits, and the special guest appearances were a nice Cali Christmas present. The house was packed, drinks were flowing, hot-boxing of the venue could not go unnoticed, and people were dancing, shouting and singing. The energy was great, and despite my awful experience with the previously mentioned, extremely rude and hostile photographer, I could not help but have a great time.