CONCORD, Calif. A strong lineup of young R&B and pop acts including Sammie, LFO, B*Witched and Mya flexed their vocal strengths and toyed with the hearts of a near-capacity crowd of teenagers during Friday's "All That Music and More" concert at the Chronicle Pavilion.
(Click here to access the "All That Music and More" photo gallery.)
The estrogen-heavy crowd was whipped into an early frenzy by a group of lesser-known artists' well-choreographed, entertaining performances at the concert, sponsored by Nickelodeon. (Sonicnet.com's parent company, Viacom, also owns Nickelodeon.) The openers were Take 5, a five-member boy group from where else? Orlando, Fla., Bosson, a hunky blond soloist from Sweden and Angela Via, a rising female pop act.
Even though their material wasn't familiar to the teen-pop fans, the crowd doused Take Five and Bosson with primitive screams during their high-energy dance routines, which were peppered with PG-13 hip thrusts.
"I don't know who he is, but he's fine," one girl said before dashing down the aisle to join the small throng of Bosson admirers at the foot of the stage.
But the early enthusiasm for those groups was dwarfed by the crowd's screams for Sammie, the 13-year-old pop sensation. His debut album, From the Bottom to the Top, was released in March and has been on the Billboard 200 albums chart for 16 weeks.
"I love Sammie," sighed 8-year-old Bianca Williams of Antioch, Calif., who bought From the Bottom to the Top this summer. "He's such a nice, sweet boy."
Sammie walked onstage dressed in a baggy, denim patchwork Karl Kani pants-and-jacket outfit. He wore a thick silver chain weighed down with an "S" pendant. During his 15-minute set he sang the hit "Crazy Things I Do" (RealAudio excerpt), the ballad "Hero," and his disc's first single, "I Like It" (RealAudio excerpt).
Although he was dwarfed by his dancers, the pop star wowed the crowded with stage presence and dance moves worthy of a showbiz veteran.
"If you read that article that [said] I'm the next Michael Jackson, check this out," Sammie said, launching into a high-energy, solo dance routine.
Under Their Spell
As night fell on the outdoor venue, bubbly Irish pop group B*Witched brought the crowd to their feet with a string of hits from their self-titled, 1999 debut album, such as "C'est La Vie" (RealAudio excerpt). Thundering sound effects rumbled and sparks showered down from the stage rafters when they performed "Blame It on the Weatherman."
The members Edele Lynch, Sinead O'Carroll, Lindsey Armaou and Keavy Lynch wore clothes that reflected the light-hearted music. They all wore snug denim pants (each member sporting a different color) with spaghetti-strap T-shirts.
B*Witched also sang a cover of Toni Basil's '80s cheerleading hit "Mickey." That song is on B*Witched Across America, an upcoming disc of hits the group performed during its U.S. tour.
A buff squad of male dancers dressed in silver football uniforms danced with the pop group during the song. B*Witched finished their half-hour performance with a medley of songs from their second album, including "Jump Down" and "Jesse Hold On." The performance ended with a burst of confetti fired into the front rows.
The crowd responded enthusiastically to the young women onstage, but only a few, such as 20-year-old Meagan Goethe, appeared to be hard-core B*Witched fans.
"I saw them in Irvine [Calif.] and San Bernardino [Calif.]," the Concord resident said. "Me and my friends went to talk to them and the dancers and got to go backstage in Irvine. They are just the nicest people in the world."
Rising R&B talent Mya hit the stage next in low-slung leather pants, a silver tube-top and a glittering rhinestone belt. She began with "Ghetto Superstar" (RealAudio excerpt), a smash collaboration with Ol' Dirty Bastard and Pras from the "Bulworth" soundtrack.
She gave the audience a taste of her next single, "Case of the Ex" (RealAudio excerpt), from her most recent disc, Fear of Flying. She also sang her current radio hit, "Best of Me" (RealAudio excerpt). The latter song's adult theme of sexual temptation was probably lost on many of the young audience members who knew Mya best for the lighter themes on her self-titled debut.
In her dressing room after her performance, Mya said even though her material has matured, she still appreciates her younger fans.
"I thought [this Nickelodeon tour] was a good opportunity," said the 20-year-old, who began her career as a teenager. "Sometimes it's a little harder to connect to the younger fans when you grow [artistically]. I am a little older now."
The audience sang along as she finished her performance with past hits "Movin' On" and "Take Me There."
Wild Wild LFO
The final act on the lineup, LFO, were showered with girlish shrieks and applause when members Brad Fischetti, Rich Cronin and Devin Lima stepped onstage.
Cronin sported cargo pants and a blue football jersey, Lima wore tan, denim cargo pants, a black stretch T-shirt and a tan denim jacket. Fischetti also wore khaki cargo pants, a bicep-bearing spandex shirt and a skullcap.
They sang "Baby Be Mine" backed by a five-piece band that wore orange jumpsuits. The capable musicians gave texture to the sugarcoated hits from LFO's smash, self-titled, 1999 debut album. The pop trio also performed "Can't Have You," "Girl on TV" (RealAudio excerpt), and the uptempo "My Block."
It was clear the handsome threesome was the main draw for the teens in the crowd. The eager throng of girls remained on their feet for most of the performance and waved copies of LFO CDs in the air.
"My ... favorite is 'West Side Story,' " squealed 14-year-old Torrey Stern of Clayton, Calif. "Devin's voice sounds so sexy on it."
Later in the show, the group tested its mettle on other famous artists' hits. Cronin rapped a version of Sugarhill Gang's classic "Rapper's Delight." Lima, the strongest singer of the trio, sang Stevie Wonder's classic "I Wish." That song evolved into "Wild Wild West" and Cronin rapped Will Smith's part.
LFO had plenty of sexy dance routines to thrill the crowd, and Lima ripped off his shirt midway through the set. But LFO's performance was light on the bad-boy hip grinding that would alarm parents, who were also well represented in the crowd.
Toward the end, Torrey got her wish when LFO sung "West Side Story," their next single. They finished out the show with their most famous hit, "Summer Girls" (RealAudio excerpt).
"We think you guys were our best audience ever," Cronin said, to an appreciative roar from the fans.
The teenage girls who went home with their parents after the show dazed, sweaty and hoarse undoubtedly agreed.