Better than: Selling fish plates
On Friday night, a long line of mostly women wrapped around Club Nokia for the Keyshia Cole concert. Devoted fans of the Oakland bred R&B star came out in full force with tight spandex dresses and too-sexy-to-be-comfortable heels. It was a night of booty pops and all things ratchet.
See also: Leave Keyshia Cole Alone
8:30 Mateo warmed up the crowd before Chrisette Michele came to the stage. He had everything that should be in a male R&B artist's toolkit: a delicate falsetto, an edgy bad boy look, and a refined taste for the classics. He covered “Love You Down” by the wet jheri curled group, Ready For The World. A concertgoer lifted her arm as if she was savoring every moment of the intimate bedroom jam. Mateo continued the romantic mood with an original song called “Doubt.”
8:43: “U fuckin' with me!!!” A group of tightly dressed women with equally wound attitudes almost went to blows with a woman seated behind them. Several people waved their arms to get security's attention. After what seemed to be an eternity, one staff member tried to diffuse the situation. The staff member left, but the conflict didn't. After face to face arguing, one of the women from the angry group shoved her opponent.
8:51 The lights turned off and Chrisette Michele entered showing off her slimmer physique with a fitted motorcycle jacket and black skinny jeans. “I was in this crazy relationship! And I wrote this song called 'Epiphany,'” she said. The crowd got on their feet as the song's hard hitting chorus reverberated throughout the room. Whether it comes in a raspy whisper or a baptist revival squall, Michele's voice is the epitome of consistent.
9:30: “Woman to Woman was good but that last Calling All Hearts album was garbage!” A concertgoer in front of my friend and I turned around for a spirited Keyshia Cole conversation as we wait for the main act. She wore fiery red lipstick that matched her personality. “My sister wasted her money on that one! I hope the old Keyshia comes out.” It can be inferred that the old Keyshia is the straight from the hood, her hand on her hip, more concerned about cussing out a trifling lover than engineering a hit.
9:37 During an intermission of old school jams, a middle-aged woman in a white lace Easter dress grabbed the back of a chair to do something that looked like the combination of squats and a booty pop. People danced in the aisles with strangers like they knew them their whole lives. Keyshia Cole fans are a friendly bunch.
9:52: The room got dark, and the crowd stood in expectation with outstretched arms that held their cameras steady. A surprisingly elaborate set was revealed with a graffiti wall and a second floor complete with a pink bed and a Keyshia Cole portrait. Cole walked on the upper floor with waist-length blond hair, bedazzled silver heels, and a short white dress with a frilly bottom straight out of the '90s.
9:55: After a quick medley of hits, Cole performed her first full song in “I Changed My Mind” from her 2005 debut, The Way It Is. She was joined by four backup dancers dressed in black and white. Cole's vocals sounded a bit worn, which could have been due to her not feeling well. The crowd didn't seem to pay attention to some of her off notes as they waved their arms.
10:04: No backup singers tonight! No assistance at all, outside of a backing track. While performing “Get It Right” she stopped singing to let the recording handle the harder notes.
10:12: Cole arranged her set like a high energy mixtape. She performed dancehall remixes of “Hey Sexy” and “Wonderland” off of her latest album, Woman To Woman. She dutty whined with her female dancers until she said, “This is for the ladies right here.” The crowd screamed as shirtless male dancers with rippled abs glided on the floor. Cole left the stage but no one seemed to care, transfixed on the dancers who, for some reason, returned to the stage riding glow in the dark bicycles.
10:21: Cole finally returned to the stage. Screams erupted throughout the audience at the first reedy chords of “Love,” which is arguably Cole's biggest hit. She changed into a pink and beige onesie and stood alone in the middle of the stage. This was her most stripped down performance of the night, with limited help from the backing track. She sang with vigor as she let out one undulating riff after another.
10:27: The concert became more awkward with each song. Cole let her recorded vocals carry the burden of “I Should Have Cheated” — like karaoke. She then talked to a bartender onstage who gave her the relationship advice and then held up a fake handgun. I'm not sure what this was all about. Cole later invited a little girl on stage, but because she didn't know the words, an older lady joined Cole on “Woman To Woman” instead. Top that off with female dancers who spun umbrellas to the R&B-country mashup, “Heaven Sent,” and you have a concert with the most random moments one can imagine.
10:51: Cole's singing was subpar and her interaction with the audience had a limp quality (she murmured, “Where y'all from? Long Beach?”) but she still had the crowd in the palm of her hands. Club Nokia staff tried to clear the front of the stage, but failed miserably when Cole performed the '80s R&B throwback, “Let It Go”. Concertgoers closed their eyes and swayed their hips in defiance. Imperfect as she is, the old Keyshia was all that they wanted.
Set lists below:
Chrisette Michele Set List:
Blame It On Me
What You Do
A Couple Of Forevers
Keyshia Cole Set List:
Keyshia Cole Medley
I Changed My Mind
Get It Right
Give It Up To Me
Hip Hop Medley
Woman To Woman
Trust And Believe
Let It Go
Enough Of No Love (Encore)