So I got a text from my girl J. Flo Wednesday late afternoon, asking If I wanted a free ticket to the last performance of Britney Spears‘ 3-day run at Madison Square Garden. My answer required no thought.
I think fascination is too strong a word to use, but I have definitely been interested in the saga of Britney Spears since she exploded onto the pop scene. I was in my senior year of college, and felt a little too old to be enjoying “Hit Me Baby One More Time” so much, but whatever, my pleasures are never guilty. The thing that always struck me about Britney is that she didn’t seem smart, and I always thought she either looked sexy or sad. One or the other. Her happiness, occasionally seen in interviews, always seemed to be drawn from the simpler things. Although she appeared to have everything, in a way, I kind of thought she was an underdog in life, and over the years through the lens of the relentless paparazzi we’ve come to see that’s pretty much what she is. I’m a sucker for an underdog, plus the chick’s hits are mad catchy. Shot through the heart, I’ve been Speared.
So anyway me and the J. Flo met up at MSG around 7pm, and at that moment, a great night began. I hadn’t been to a big arena tour concert since I saw the Boyz II Men, Jodeci and MC Hammer tour in 1992, and hadn’t even set foot in Madison Square Garden since the Ringling Bros. Circus in 1995. So it only felt natural that something close to a fusion of the two experiences would come together for my reintroduction to the insanity of an arena show. As we headed up the escalators to the General Admission area, I started getting flashbacks of the many times I’d excitedly headed up those escalators before – Knicks games, that time I saw Bell Biv Devoe, the Public Enemy headlined show billed as “The Greatest Rap Concert Ever” – moments I’d thought were long forgotten.
Our general admission tickets put us on the floor of the arena, surprisingly close to the circular stage. Checked my pulse. Pumped. The show opener, Kristinia DeBarge didn’t suck, but was completely forgettable on some “hey, hey, hey…goodbye!” total lip sync status. Baby hipster boy band One Call, which is half made up of the new Menudo group they tried to pop off a year ago was styled really well. I totally sweated their variety of cute marching band jackets, and their weathered tight sagged jeans looked really good on their hip swervalicious, footwork based dance moves. I joked to Flo that I was totally going to get into them. Maybe I wasn’t joking. Jordin Sparks polished off the openers with a solid set cuz that girl can really sing. Looked great too. The girl’s got some legs on her. I didn’t follow Jordin on American Idol, but I’ve no doubt hummed or sung along to every one of her tunes I’ve heard on the radio, whether I knew it was her or not. So, props to Miss Sparks and her job well done.
Uh huh. Yeah. Right before the circus began, I caught a cold sweat and got kind of dizzy. I thought it was the heat, or all the heavy breathing going on around me, causing a lack of oxygen. Or maybe it was some strobe light pseudo-epilepsy, like kids get watching television in Japan? Unsolved Mysteries. I just knew it was no bueno, so I ducked down and settled myself so I wouldn’t die embarrassingly at a Britney show. Britney’s circus began with a collection of human feats, from the man who spun giant metal squares and boxes, to a man and legless woman who performed exciting trampoline flips, a martial arts squad, and a woman who was thrust into the air by two men holding a flexible beam across their shoulders, while she performed complicated gymnastic flips in the air, only to land perfectly back on the thin flexible beam. Total spectacle. At this point, the woman standing in front of me turns around to walk through the crowd, as she apparently was also not feeling well. She didn’t make it, and faceplanted right into the ground. I ran and got security while a man dragged her out of the crowd. She woke up, stood like nothing happened, and then BAM! Seconds later, down like a felled tree once again. After a disturbingly long amount of time, the paramedics came. It was pretty scary, and I hope she’s alright, and only came out of it with a fat knot on her forehead.
And that’s when Britney showed up, scantily clad, writhing in a cage like a snakelion. Throughout the circus themed show, she and her dancers definitely kept up the showy extravaganza. Juicy dancer-girl bootys out, sinewy man chest a-shinin, popping, locking, doing all those dance moves I don’t know the names of but hear the judges on America’s Best Dance Crew mention, and then some, infinity, plus 2. Was that a mischievous midget I just saw dancing with that scary clown? Did Britney just fly up into the rafters on a swing made only of two leather clad men? Was that Ed Alonzo from Saved By The Bell, trapping Britney in a box and chopping her body into three parts? Yes. To all. Spectacularly. She performed most of her recent hits and singles like “Piece Of Me,” “Circus,” “Radar,” and “Womanizer” and along with tracks off her latest album, and remixed versions of “…Baby One More Time,” “Me Against The Music,” “Toxic,” “Slave 4 U,” and “Boys,” as the stage erupted into volcanoes of smoke, and rained down in a minute-long fiery shower of sparks.
The whole experience was a blast. Hell, more than a blast, it was a complete detonation. I’d forgotten how much fun a concert can be on this kind of level. I’d like to thank Britney Spears for reminding me, cuz as much as I hate waiting on ticketmaster for the perfect moment to cop tickets for a show of this magnatude, in the future, for now on, if I have the loot….I know it’s worth the wait.
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