Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Boots with the fur: The Indy's Jason McMackin feels the T-Pain

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Last night I had two musical choices: see one of Missoula’s most-promising bands, Stellarondo, live score a film or join hundreds upon hundreds of underdressed, over-painted teenaged girls at the Adams Center for the final night of the Snowstorm Music Tour, with co-headliners Gym Class Heroes and T-Pain.

In fact, there was no choice. I had to see Tallahassee Pain do what he do.

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Beginning around 4:30 in the afternoon, a line began to form in front of the Adams Center box office. The crowd of 200 stood in the cold drizzle. many who were literally dressed in "Apple Bottom jeans and the boots with the fur." Some sported tight skirts and shirts that had soaked through plenty. The doors would not open for an hour. The most pleasing sight was that of the dads dressed in tracksuits and flannel, standing guard over their daughters, keeping the flat-brimmed ball cap boys at bay, looking tough by looking like they didn’t care.

Once inside, it was pretty obvious that getting to the show three hours early was unnecessary for those kids. The floor was only half-full and any kid could have shimmied on up to the front. Grieves & Budo started off the night with a refrain that would be heard all night: “How you feeling Missoula?” Turns out Missoula was feeling good. I also learned that we, Missoula, are “some crazy motherfuckers,” “the best crowd of the tour,” and “way more beautiful than the ugly mofos in Billings.”

Well, no crud.

My boy Outasight hit the stage (his management supplied me with tickets) and did the hip-pop thing decked out in a blazer, skinny tie and Ray-Ban Wayfarers sunglasses. He got the crowd jumpin', waving their blankety-blank hands in the air for his relatively short set of radio-ready jams. I knew I knew some Gym Class Heroes songs from the radio at the YMCA. They do the “I want to be a millionaire” song and a few others that were instantly recognizable by their female vocal hooks (no female vocalist to be found on stage). They noted that “there were a lot of beautiful girls in Missoula” on several occasions. They had a semi-secret dude who played all the guitar leads and keyboard parts in an unlit part of the stage near the drum riser. Really.

Now T-Pain and GCH are billed as co-headliners. Fact: T-Pain was and is the only headliner on that tour. He is unabashedly silly, entertaining and out-of-shape. But you knew it was on as the swirl of seizure-inducing lights climaxed with the music and the boss appeared in the spotlight and let loose with a bombastic, “Ladies and gentleman my name is motherfuckin’ T-Pain!”

The place exploded and he went right into some hits while posing, posturing and triangle-dancing with the guys and gals onstage. After admonishing parents for not Googling him, then admonishing the kids for booing their parents, Pain went on to perform 45 seconds pieces of his hits. Mostly the intro, a bit of chorus, then a skit or two with the DJ, which were often genuinely funny (Btdubs, his pimp walk is off the chain.). Pain often sat for these breaks visibly out of breath. The only complete song of the night was “I’m In Love With a Stripper,” which totally ruled.

He slowed it down and things got grown and sexy and he lost the young crowd for a bit. But after spiel about how he’s had 47 songs on the radio at one time (a cursory internet search makes this appear to be so, circa ’07-’08), he unloaded snippets of more hits and then walloped the crowd with a taste of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” followed by “I’m on a Boat.” It worked. Shorties got low.

The last show of a tour can be amazing or a drawn out and boring. T-Pain messed with the crowd and did a bit of both. He gave them an inspirational speech about hard work and under-doggedness. He free-styled for 10 minutes and told all the haters where to stuff it. The young crowd began to stream out as he spoke, looking tired, bored or maybe they just had to get up early for school.

In any case, they’ll only talk about the good parts of the show at school today. The part where they awkwardly gyrated near one another with huge grins and arms waving in the air. The part where the boy they liked stood near them. The part where the girl they liked didn’t leave early, but met them outside and they walked home together in the cold rain singing, “She poppin’, she rollin’, she rollin’, she climbin’ that pole, I’m in love wit' a stripper.”

—Jason McMackin

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