GEORGE, Wash. As if it weren't already hot enough at The Gorge Amphitheatre, KUBE-FM turned up the heat for its eighth annual Summer Jam.
With temperatures in the 80s, it was a day for skimpy clothing and short sets. And two giant LED screens meant fans could wander freely and not miss the action onstage.
Friday's marathon featured nearly a dozen rap, hip-hop and R&B acts from the charts. It was old school vs. new school with a lineup ranging from Run-D.M.C. to TQ and Da Brat. The smooth-running party included at least one surprise and a couple of disappointments beyond the station's control.
Singer Solé canceled because of a death in her family, and the red-hot Cash Money crew scheduled to close the show missed their plane. KUBE's Eric Powers reluctantly made the announcement, but the crowd was having too much fun to care.
The mainstage lineup began with pioneering rap trio Run-D.M.C., who performed songs from their new album, Crown Royal. The set included the trio's Aerosmith-inspired, '80s crossover hit, "Walk This Way."
MTV filmed the next set featuring Destiny's Child the stylish, all-woman Texas R&B group that replaced TLC at the top of the charts. Wearing silver embroidered outfits, the vocal group opened with one of its biggest hits, "Say My Name." (Sonicnet.com's parent company, Viacom, also owns MTV.)
Wads of play money were tossed into the crowd for "Bills, Bills, Bills." "Jumpin, Jumpin," the current favorite, compelled the crowd to do just that. But for all its flash, the group was somewhat cool and reserved.
That was not the case for Da Brat, the tough-talking rapper whose sassy single "That's What I'm Looking For" was the high point of her 20-minute set. Joining her was Tyrese, the rapper who knows "What'chu Like."
Red-suited rapper Busta Rhymes, whose trademark dreadlocks were tied into huge knots, was next in line with songs from his new album, Anarchy. Rhymes' star is on the rise thanks to the strong album and his role in the movie remake of "Shaft."
Rhymes' muscular, apocalyptic rap songs kept the crowd pumped. "Get Out!!" and "Live It Up" were two of the strongest from the new album.
Rapper Nelly performed his current rap hit, "(Hot S**t) Country Grammar," and was followed by Beanie Sigel, who wore a bright-yellow outfit for a short set including "Remember Them Days."
The day's poorly kept surprise an appearance by R&B vocal group Next was a highlight of the afternoon. Performing with three women dancers, Next entertained the crowd with "What U Want" and the cool, romantic "Wifey" (RealAudio excerpt). They vowed to stick together as "blood brothers" despite breakup rumors.
The hip-hop group TQ, in matching black-and-white outfits, arrived onstage on low-rider bikes for a set featuring the hit single "Daily," as well as a tribute to the rap and hip-hop artists who inspired them.
Cleveland's Bone Thugs-N-Harmony anchored the evening with songs from BTNHResurrection, the foursome's super-strong comeback album. The colorful, high-energy set was one of the highlights of the show.
Summer Jam came to a close with the laid-back romanticism of R&B crooner Brian McKnight, who played guitar and was accompanied by a four-piece band.
Blessed with a superb voice, McKnight kept the love flowing until about 10 p.m. with such new songs as "6, 8, 12," "You Could Be the One" and "Back at One," the smooth R&B ballad that was also a hit for country hunk Mark Wills.