MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Bow Wow/ B2K fans/addicts can jump on top of fold-up chairs with acrobatic agility and balance themselves with grace. If you see them running for the barrier that separates them and the stage, you better play like Ludacris and “Move! Get out the way!”: Many of them may only be 100 pounds or less, but with the boys of their dreams in their sights and that old adrenaline pumping, they’ll steamroll you. All of them are somebody’s “real” #1 fan, and of course they’re not afraid to express it by screaming.
But hours before the teen titans’ Scream 2 Tour kicked off its run at the Mid-South Coliseum Thursday night (click for photos from the show), you had to keep your cool and talk calmly, especially if you were trying to get tickets for the sold-out show.
“No really, I know Omarion, he’s supposed to have tickets for me but he doesn’t know my whole name,” a woman, seemingly spinning a far-fetched yarn, desperately pleaded to a security guard.
“I’m just ready to get it started,” the main attraction, Bow Wow, said a little later as Jermaine Dupri walked around backstage, making sure everything was right. Meanwhile Bow Weezy’s co-stars, B2K, IMX and TG-4, were tucked away out of sight, and if you listened to the gossip hounds, the three acts would possibly be pulling a Nas and not showing up at all. Later in the night, though, everyone would see that it was Bow Wow who almost didn’t make it.
Newcomers TG-4 were probably thinking, “Wheeeew, we made it,” after they left the stage. They had to open a show that started almost an hour late, nobody knew who they were, and to top it off, they were girls!
“Who are they?” one teen asked her friend. “I’m ready to see my boyfriend Lil’ Fizz.”
The boo birds went to chirping as IMX’s protégés entered the stage with a spastic funk track playing behind them. The new jacks obviously have been taking notes from their seasoned performing friends, because the crowd was behind them once TG-4 started their second and final song, “Virginity” (“I like it when you touch me/ I like it when you squeeze me/ But you cannot take my virginity,” they sang). How did they win over their fellow females? Their swift choreography had a hand in it, but all they had to do was ask one question: “Who wants to go backstage with us?”
The show’s 20-something elder statesmen IMX were up next, sending the ladies’ hormones into overdrive. Lead singer Batman sang one line from “Ain’t No Need,” then paused and the Memphis faithful were celebrating like the Grizzlies won the NBA championship.
Batman wore a black jacket with his superhero namesake’s logo on the back in all rhinestones. Romeo and LDB were equally as blingy with their initials, but what sent the girls into a full frenzy was what they wore later.
As Romeo and LDB sat at the bottom of a smaller stage on top on the main stage with their six back-up dancers, Batman came on to sing their closer, “First Time,” wearing nothing but boxer shorts, slippers and a tank top.
As the song faded and the guys crooned the breakdown, “Clap your hands if you remember your first time,” they brought back memories of knocking for one lady with mixed gray hair in the audience.
“I’m having more fun than I thought I would,’ she said with a Kool-Aid grin, standing on the seat of her chair between her niece and daughter.
As B2K’s set got erected, it was deja vu all over again. Just like they were doing two hours previously, girls were chanting for J-Boog, Omarion, Raz-B and Lil’ Fizz, and a simultaneous echo of “Bow Wow, Bow Wow” went out, setting off a friendly shouting match.
The Boys of the New Millennium looked like the new New Edition as they slowly rose from the floor. The same audio gremlins that plagued Papa Roach last week in Buffalo during the Anger Management Tour kickoff (see “Eminem King Of The Carnival At Anger Management Tour Launch” ) racked up some frequent flyer miles, jaunting to Memphis. They were in the house for B2K’s opener, their theme song “B2K Is Hot.” Each member, clad in red and white and walking down their own set of stairs, looked a little bewildered at times as the mics would go from one extreme to the next, starting off inaudibly low then jumping to ear-blistering high distortion.
But the group could’ve performed their set in sign language and it probably wouldn’t have mattered as long as they kept poppin’ and lockin’ and showing off their abs of steel. The soundman got himself back on point by the time the next number started. J-Boog going topless for the number was a huge crowd pleaser (Raz-B would later drop his pants).
After a freestyle dance session to Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World” and a quick wardrobe change, it was time for another highlight, “Gots Ta Be.”
“I’m not the kind to talk to strangers,” the crowd immediately started singing along, almost drowning out Omarion, who was standing at the forefront of the main stage. Fizz, Boog, and Raz-B stood on the top of the smaller stage and took it old school, singing at mic stands. His fellow group members would eventually leave Omarion to do some improv toward the end of the cut.
“Is it you?” he repeatedly asked of who would win his heart, pointing into the crowd before dropping to his knees.
“You can’t get mad at nobody but me,” he continued with his 10,000-plus backup singers.
Nobody was mad, just “Bad,” for B2K’s closer, “Uh Huh.” Staying in sync with each other, the group created a spectacle sliding across the stage, doing whirlwind spins and, of course, pumping their crotches. Michael Jackson’s voice asking “Who’s bad?” blurted out the speakers as all four heartthrobs were lowered back into the floor.
Pulling his tucked in T-shirt from out of his jeans was the closest he came to exposing himself, he doesn’t sing, and we’ve seen him do those same variations of the Harlem shake and Crip-walk for years now. Nonetheless, Bow Wow was the showstopper.
A mini movie of the trials and tribulations Bow Wow had to go through to get to the show preceded his grand entrance of being lowered from the ceiling by a harness for “We Want Weezy.”
“Bounce With Me” had the crowd doing just that as the 15-year-old spit his rapid-fire raps. For good measure and extra buoyancy, he continued rocking with the track to Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’ ” playing. A short dance interlude gave the teen titan enough time to change clothes from his blue-and-rust jumpsuit to a jeans suit.
“Everybody put your posters or your CDs in the air,” newcomer rapper Roc told everyone as Bow was hoisted into the air with a fire department crane for “Thank You.”
He stayed on the ground for “Basketball,” and had enough people onstage with him to make two teams. Dupri came out for his guest vocals and three dancers dressed as referees were onstage as well, while Bow, now wearing a Grizzlies jersey, twirled a basketball around on one finger and rapped next to a b-ball hoop.
Bow didn’t need any guys with him for “Puppy Love,” just two ecstatic girls he brought out the audience. Free and A.J., hosts of BET’s “106 and Park,” provided a video interlude as the set changed to its “Thunderdome” motif. DJ Shakim was rolled out on a structure that mirrored a giant erector set. It later revolved to reveal 11-year-old DJ Just. The two spun records to get the crowd more hype, but it was all to stall for time — nobody could find Bow Wow.
“Where’s Bow?” the two turntablists and Roc asked the crowd before the theme to “Superman” played as Weezy hung high above the crowd hooked to another harness. This time he was at the back of the venue and a line was pulling him to the stage. Since most of the crowd was too young to catch Christopher Reeve’s initial run as the Man of Steel in the late 1970s, the beat appropriately changed to Styles’ “Good Times.” “I get high, high, high,” blurted out the speakers as the spotlight followed a flipping-in-mid-air Bow Wow to his place of business.
“I’m tired, I’m done,” he said after performing “Bow Wow (That’s My Name).” Defying gravity and running down a conveyor belt that was onstage had worn him out. So he left — again.
“We gonna keep rocking and I’m sure he’s gonna come back,” Roc comforted the spectators.
Nobody really expected him to bounce without performing his closer.
“Bow, we gotta take somebody home with us,” Roc told his younger labelmate, who came back, wearing a tank top and shorts covered in paw prints.
As the girls sang the chorus of “Take Ya Home” (“Lil’ Bow Wow/ You just don’t know…”) Bow performed his most mind-boggling feat of the night: He performed the Harlem shake without his iced-out Mickey Mouse pendant bouncing up to smack him in the kisser.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.
– Shaheem Reid
You can win a trip to Miami to check out the Scream tour for yourself — and meet B2K and Bow Wow — in our Scream tour sweepstakes.