Last Friday the so-called Party Rock Tour descended on the Hollywood Palladium in a homecoming of sorts for LMFAO, Shwayze, and their partners in neon electro-hip-hop. The all-ages event (read: mostly between onset-of-puberty and 20) offered a nonstop party from sundown till closing, a full bill going from the more rudimentary sets of the earlier acts to the full-blown "sex and drinking music for people too young to know anything about sex or drinking" jams of the headliners.
(Longish--yet rewarding!-review and pictures of party rappers and possibly drunk teenagers after the jump. For a full Slideshow by WCS's shutterbug Tim Norris, click here.)
The party started very early in the evening with sets by Electrolightz, Cold Flamez
Space Cowboy, and Paradiso Girls. The temperature (and production values) went up with the appearance of Asian American hip hop trio Far East Movement, who took the stage wearing astronaut helmets (what is it with taking the stage wearing astronaut helmets? Mika did this at the same venue a few weeks ago. Apparently, Daft Punk looms very large among the current electropop scenesters).
FM, as they call themselves for short, are energetic and obviously the most accomplished rappers on the whole bill, though they fall into strange gimmicks that distract from their performance (a guy in a gorilla suit for a song about going apeshit? really?).
The trio kept interrupting their act by throwing free CDs into the young crowd--who might or might not be familiar with ancient, 20th-century media--and hawking Adidas moon-boots. Between the flying sneakers and their "the party won't stop till they call the cops!" raps they propelled the collective time machine back to the Raising Hell/License to Illperiod and set the stage for the full-blown 80s nostalgia that was to follow.
"Roll me round cause I'm brown like blunt,/ so put it in the sky and tell me what you want/ lite' er up, lite, lite'er up/ like it's 1985 and we hot as fuck!" raps Aaron Smith, the man who used to be Shwayze. Or maybe he still is. It's unclear because his act now appears to have morphed into a duo with our old friend, Reality TV's Cisco Adler, backed by a busy multi-instrumentalist and a DJ who looks like Jonah Hill at Coachella. Maybe "Shwayze" is now a band that includes a rapper called Shwayze, kind of like Santana. It's unclear.
In any case, Cisco and Shwayze prance around the stage like it's 1985 and they hot as fuck alright. Their whole shtick is warmed-over Reagan-era-jams stuff: their new record is called Let it Beat (what, Let It Beat It was taken? Or "too soon"?), they rewrote Hall & Oates' "Maneater" and their fluffy material made the underage girls decked like Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect spin on the beer-sticky dancefloor like that ballerina welder chick in Flashdance.
But there were also plenty of signs that this was not 1985. It wasn't just the constant, annoying shout-outs to MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook (we get it dudes--it's 2009 and social networkin' hot as fuck), but also a general crassness that separated the duo from their role models. From Cisco demanding to know where his hos at (all over the dancefloor, apparently) to Shwayze wanting to know "where the rich girls at" because he needed someone "to buy me some weed and alcohol and shit," the stage banter was unimaginative and repetitive. And the songs themselves were not much better.
On the radio, ballady come-on "Don't Be Shy," includes the teasing line "you wanna go out with me? Show me." Yep, you guessed. It was "Blow me!" onstage, with gestures to make double sure we understand the singer requires fellatio as a love token. This artless bluster sure can make one nostalgic for the days of Luke Skywalker and the 2 Live Crew--at least their sampled Vietnamese prostitute promised long-time looooove! (To be fair, the band is not completely without poetry. On "Get U Home," the rhyme "she tastes like cigarettes and alcohol/up all night on addderall" is pretty genius).
Before closing their shambolic set the Schwayzes wanted to know "Who's under 21 and still fucked up?" I guess they were just making sure the kiddies were well plastered for the headliners, current Party People extraordinaires (and LA's own) LMFAO. Booze certainly helped, at least for a while.
Like Shwayze, LMFAO is also a duo. Or maybe they are a quintet, because they are often joined onstage by a chubby dancer guy, a really cute "bikini girl" (that's her official title--she's mentioned in song and banter as such), and a guy wearing a cardboard robot head painted silver. The lineup is, like many things about the Party Rock Tour (including LMFAO's quite evident popularity), unclear.
We don't need to guess at LMFAO's philosophy because they very helpfully interrupt their set to spell it out.
Apparently, "LMFAO got a movement called Party Rock." It consists of three things:
#1: You must love to party
#2: You must love to drink
#3: You must love to fuck.
They also perform songs, interspersed with surreal banter that is either really lame comedy or pretty brilliant Samuel Beckett pastiche. Introducing "I Shake I Move," one of them (twin parts of a hybrid entity, the two rapping LMFAOs are pretty much interchangeable) tells the other he gets more bitches because he shakes, then he moves. The choreography does not help understand how a quick series of coiti interrupti makes said bitches prefer LMFAO #1 over LMFAO #2.
Another of their popular songs is called "I'm In [insert your city here], Bitch." This is the song where they introduce the character of "Bikini Girl," who was easily the best thing about the entire evening. She looks like a pro at whatever it is Bikini Girls do, changes outfits several times (including, for some reason, Bikini Cupid), and seems happy to be onstage. She's mostly ignored by the LMFAOs, who, much like Italian ragazzi in a Tuscan piazza, seem much more concerned with impressing each other with sex talk than with the actual hotties, including audience girls, who try to grind them onstage.
By the time Carboard Robot Head guy comes in (he, but of course, sings through some kind of autotune/vocoder thing--he's a robot!--in yet another Daft Punk ripoff), it's hard to see the line between LMFAO and some Chappelle Show parody of their kind of nonsense. Oversize bottles of Corona? Check. More references to the underage crowd being loaded? Check. Repeated intimations to "shake that ass," "grabbing freaks to the beat," and "making the booty pop" issued by an LMFAO wearing a zebra-print stage getup that makes him look like a cross between a pimp and his ho? You know it.
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And then there was the finale: DJ Eric D-Lux who does Traffic Jam for Power 106 got called onstage to help them sing the hit he cowrote with the LMFAOs. I'm sure you've heard "Shots," a retarded Patron commercial masquerading as a goodtime jam. Well, let's just say they took it to a whole 'nother level live, inviting a bunch of Party People to rush the stage (Eric D-Lux: "Where my alcoholics at!") and leading the fake-ID crowd into a frightening frenzy, like a Nuremberg Rally held in Cancun.
The crowd, by the way, had a great time throughout the evening. And when all's said, you can't really argue with a pumping dancefloor, can you?