Intrust Bank Arena travels back to the ’90s
It was a satellite radio station come to life.
It was the ultimate Throwback Thursday.
It was a dance party filled with joyous Gen-Xers doing the "Funky Cold Medina" in a "Gangsta’s Paradise" and showing they could still "Push It." Push it real good.
And it was a gentle reminder that few in the building – not the performers and not their fans – are quite the specimens they were in the 1990s.
On Thursday, 5,000 music fans, most born in the 1970s and 1980s, traveled back in to the Discman-era for a concert that offered seven classic hip-hop acts from the 1990s.
The show was called "I Love the ’90s," and it featured headliners Vanilla Ice and Salt-N-Pepa plus Color Me Badd, Tone Loc, Coolio, All-4-One and Kid ‘n Play.
It wasn’t a high-dollar production. There were no sets or cat walks, and the acts all performed to canned or DJ music. But what the show lacked in flash it made up for in fun.
Some of the performers had more energy than others. Coolio, for example, had trouble commanding the crowd’s attention during the 10-minute span between his two radio hits, "Gangsta’s Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage." Meanwhile, Color Me Badd, best known for its 1991 hit "I Wanna Sex You Up," (and down a member since its heyday) delivered a little of its old-school choreography and full harmony.
The crowd included many groups of girlfriends, some dressed up in era-appropriate overalls, neon shoes, gold chains and caps turned backward. They danced and screamed when they heard songs they recognized, and they heard many songs they recognized.
The first act on stage was Tone Loc, best known for his two hits "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing." He was given an on-stage assist by another rapper who filled in the blanks his voice could no longer handle. And he needed the help. Poor Mr. Loc’s voice sounded, as concert-goer Emily Scott so aptly put it, "like he eats cigarettes for breakfast." Still, the crowd loved his "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing."
All-4-One, the Grammy-winning group famous for hits like "I Swear," also was down a member because member Alfred Nevarez was attending to a sick relative. But the remaining singers sounded as good as they did in the mid 1990s when they first harmonized through hits like "I Can Love You Like That" and "So Much in Love," which they performed a capella. The crowd erupted when the group covered Boz II Men’s hit "Motown Philly" followed by renditions of Montell Jordan’s "This is How We Do It" and Bel Biv DeVoe’s "Poison."
Crowd favorites Kid ‘n Play joked that their performance was sponsored by Bengay, but their joints seemed in perfect order as they wildly danced through their hits like "Aint Gonna Hurt Nobody," even throwing in their once-famous foot-touching kick step.
"Ain’t nobody old in here," joked Christopher "Play" Martin. "We are classic. Classic hip hop."
Salt-N-Pepa, the girl rap group made up of Cheryl "Salt" James and Sandra "Pepa" Denton plus Deidra Roper ("DJ Spinderella"), brought the most well-known library of 1990s hits to the show. The ladies appeared with two young male backup dancers and made the crowd wait for their real singalongs, starting the show with lesser-known hits like "I’ll Take Your Man," "R U Ready" and "My Mic Sounds Nice."
Then came crowd pleaser "Let’s Talk About Sex," followed by "Whatta Man," "Shoop" and finally "Push It." The trio put on its signature red, white and yellow leather jackets for that song.
Mid-set, DJ Spinderella showed her skills with a musical medley that included favorite 1980s and 1990s hits, culminating in "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," and the stage filled with around 75 female fans wearing Salt-N-Pepa tour T-shirts. They danced and took selfies on stage.
"We’re so blessed to come out 30 years later to an audience like this," James said.
It must have been hard to follow that trio, but Vanilla Ice, also known Robert Van Winkle, gave it his best try (even though many members of the school-night crowd headed for the exits when Salt-N-Pepa were finished.)
Today a reality television star known for flipping houses on "The Vanilla Ice Project" on the DIY Network, Vanilla Ice is about to appear on the 23rd season of ABC’s "Dancing With the Stars" with partner Witney Carson, who appeared briefly on stage.
Vanilla Ice took the stage to a cover of “Play That Funky Music” followed by his 1994 song “Hit Em Hard” and “Ninja Rap.” He and his eerie masked dancers tossed a lot of bottled water onto the crowd as they maneuvered a Halloween-ish set.
Before delivering “Ice Ice Baby,” he invited members of the soggy crowd to dance with him on stage – and to vote for him on “Dancing With the Stars.”