HOLLYWOOD — There were two open bars. Trays of hors d'oeuvres. A bustling VIP section. Big-bodied bouncers. A booming sound system. It sure seemed like there was a party going on, except someone forgot to tell this to Timbaland. He was too busy working!
Indeed, there was a party going on Friday night at Hollywood's Avalon club, one hosted by People magazine and Verizon Wireless. The night was supposed to be about honoring Timba (and pimping Verizon Wireless' V Cast mobile service, through which the producer will be exclusively releasing a new track each month, with a different artist, for the next year), but he didn't seem to know it. Or, at least, he wasn't acting like someone being feted.
Rather than relaxing in the VIP section with security guards on either side of him, Tim was onstage, sweating slightly, beatboxing and doling out high-fives to pumped partygoers. It seemed, as is the case with everything he does, he just couldn't keep from getting his hands dirty. So, he decided to serve as MC at his very own event. And no one seemed to mind a bit.
Taking the stage amid the kind of histrionic fanfare usually reserved for Roman gladiators, Timbaland thanked everyone for coming out, then introduced his first guest of the evening, current Billboard Hot 100 fave Flo Rida, who — backed by Tim's skilled, powerful live band — strutted his way through "Low," and was then joined onstage by the man of the night for a tandem performance of the Timbaland-produced "Elevator," all while a very pimped-out Flavor Flav watched from the side of the stage.
After a brief set-change, Timbaland then re-emerged to introduce the second of his handpicked performers: teenage country sensation Taylor Swift, who blinded everyone in attendance with her bejeweled acoustic guitar (and puzzled many with her choice of backing band, all of whom looked like they had just been pulled from a Hot Topic ad). Swift was energetic and grateful, but her twangy country-pop didn't exactly get the crowd moving (the banjo solo probably had something to do with that, too). However, you got the feeling that Tim, who bobbed his head throughout the set, didn't even notice.
After Swift vacated, the house DJ (who kept referring to People magazine as "Peoples magazine") flipped through a marathon of Timbo's greatest hits — from his slinky, early work with Ginuwine and Aaliyah to the bigger-beat stuff from his solo album Shock Value and tracks he cut with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado — much to the delight of the crowd and the celebs who had begun to pack the VIP (a list that included Fergie, Ludacris, Travis Barker and Will.I.Am.)
Timbaland then introduced a new signing to Interscope Records, a big-voiced belter whose name I couldn't verify (Carrie Dean? Callie Dean?) and who might have done the worst cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall" of all time.
Then, the stage was cleared once again, and as Tim bounded with excitement, Paramore began to set up. After a breathless introduction from the producer ("These guys. Are. The. Sh--!"), frontwoman Hayley Williams marched about, microphone held high, leading a pop-punk parade. Her band was extra snarly on this night, ripping through a set of their hits — "CrushCrushCrush," "Misery Business," etc. — with crunchy abandon, while the crowd members flashed devil horns and spilled drinks on one another.
Then Tim, perhaps emboldened by Paramore, brought out his current project, Coldplay-esque rockers OneRepublic, declaring that "Timbaland is rock and roll, baby!" And you know what? He wasn't kidding. As the night went on and the crowd got louder and the whole thing got pretty crazy, it was obvious that as far as concerts go, Timbaland's big-ticket bash was a pretty rocking one indeed.
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