i love the '90s
friday, 9 june — qudos bank arena, sydney
I was pumped for this. Something you may experience in life (or already have) is sudden and inexplicable nostalgia for things you once thought were a bit shit. Take this entire concert for example.
When I was in high school I had no interest in groups like Color Me Badd. I was listening to ‘real’ bands like Sonic Youth, Nirvana and the Pixies. Color Me Badd were smiling on the front cover of Smash Hits with little bum fluff moustaches, wearing cross colour jeans, and guest appearing on
Something happened when the ‘90s finished. Any time these bands came on I would reach for the dial not to turn it off, but turn it up. Thanks to shopping centres and school socials I knew all the lyrics. What was lame compared to Rage Against The Machine back in the day was fun and infectious compared to the pop of today. So yes, I was pumped for this.
Young MC hit the stage first and was a strong opener. He is definitely the wrong side of 50 to still be rocking the prefix ‘young’ but his closer and biggest hit Bust A Move had the stadium doing exactly that and ignoring the fact that it technically came out in 1989.
Tone Loc's distinctive gravelly voiced rap style comes from drinking boiling hot tea as a kid and scalding his throat quite badly. Bit of a fun fact (but not for him). His biggest hit is a sample heavy and thematically problematic track called Funky Cold Medina in which Tone complains about being unable to ‘get’ women until he starts slipping something into their drinks. He takes one home and in a sudden plot twist ‘Sheena was a man’. Using the wrong pronouns to describe a trans person you just mistakenly drugged may have been hilarious in the ‘90s, but that is a much more complex and nuanced issue in 2017, thanks Tone, if that is your real name.
Color Me Badd as I found out researching this show are named after a horse. So they could have been called ‘Phar Me Lapp’ or ‘Maky Me Divaa’. Another fun fact: They released a remix album called Young Gifted & Badd which is a little bit Color Me Sadd. Also they are now down to three. We’ve lost the Kenny G guy. At one point lead singer Bryan Abrams yells ‘are all the ladies of
Colour Me Badd
Colour Me Badd
Coolio appears and everyone in the house gets quite excited by his trademark twig hair. He has a guitarist, sax player and live drummer which really elevate his performance. He has really matured in style fusing his hip hop with a fast blues style which really works. The distinctive opening strings of Gangsta’s Paradise fill the venue and are unfortunately pre-recorded but that doesn’t stop the set closer turning into an epic singalong.
Excitement is at a peak for Salt N Pepa and people are indeed loving the ‘90s. After a 30 minute DJ set to cover the turnaround, Salt and Pepa with DJ Spinderella take to the stage and the noise from the crowd is deafening. True pioneers, Salt N Pepa shaped hip hop back when it was considered a fad selling millions of records and winning Grammys. Cheryl ‘Salt’ James and Sandra ‘Pepa’
Salt N Pepa
This is where it got weird. Bob Van Winkle takes to the stage as headliner under the pseudonym Vanilla Ice. Firstly why is he headlining over Salt N Pepa? Their top three cuts on Spotify are Push It, Whatta Man and Shoop. His are Ice Ice Baby, a rap that owes everything to Queen and David Bowie’s bass line, a cover of a Wild Cherry song and a rap about ninjas. As a ninja myself it was quite offensive seeing my culture appropriated and reduced to a call and response of ‘go ninja go ninja go’. Halfway through the set, Van Winkle drops Ice Ice Baby and a massive confetti canon explodes. For most a massive confetti canon signals the end of an evening’s entertainment.
However Vanilla Ice inexplicably carries on with some truly odd choices as the stadium begins to empty out having seen the last of the hits they were intent on hearing live. Vanilla Ice’s DJ cranks DJ Snake’s Turn Down For What. Let me be clear, this wasn’t a cover. This was the original with Vanilla Ice and a stage full of individuals he had invited up with mystifying criteria such as ‘If you got a fanny pack get up. If you’re wearing ninja turtle green get up’. They all throw their best moves to the song while Vanilla goes “turn down for what” over the “‘turn down for what”’ part. What the hell is going on I thought at the time, bemused and truly not knowing where Vanilla Ice was going to take us next. This was truly the
It was a great tribute to the R&B and pop of that decade but Salt N Pepa and Coolio were the MVPs that night. I hope they keep bringing out these line-ups in various forms, because these jukebox concerts are great fun and great value. And by the way Vanilla Ice, my mother sends her word back.