Jason Derulo / Becky G / Wallpaper – The Dome at Oakdale (Wallingford, CT)
This may be surprising to hear me say but this was hands down one of the best concerts I have been to in a long time. Jason Derulo is one of the best pop performers out there and his live show does not disappoint.
I first have to say, I was surprised by the amount of young kids in the audience. I know Derulo’s a hot artist right now but his lyrical content isn’t exactly kid friendly, yet there were tons of kids under the age of 15 at the show, some of which may have even been under the age of 10. I’m all for supporting music and getting kids more into it, but sometimes you need to think to yourself – maybe an artist with songs like “Wiggle” and “Kama Sutra” might not be the best choice for me to bring my child to see perform live. I will admit, it was kinda adorable watching the younger ones try to dance along (some of them might have future careers in the dance industry from what I saw too).
The artist opening the tour lineup was the hip-hop/dance act Wallpaper. Unfamiliar with the name, we did our research and learned that the group was lead by Ricky Reed, who also happened to be the producer behind Derulo’s hits “Talk Dirty” and “Wiggle” amongst other hits from top selling artists. From the second they took the stage it was non-stop energy. Imagine if LMFAO and Asher Roth had a baby together and that’s pretty much my impression of Wallpaper. Fun beats with ridiculous lyrical content, including a song about puking your brains out (again causing me to wonder if this was the best show option for the tweens). After getting past the silliness of the lyrics I actually found myself enjoying the set. Plus there was a keytar involved in the performance – you can’t hate on that.
Next up was 17-year-old CoverGirl model and rising pop starlet Becky G. She was preceeded on stage by a super smiley DJ that goes by the name Awsumo and he definitely lived up to his name. His mixes were perfectly blended together and he got the crowd hyped up for Becky G’s part of the show. Alongside her were a handful of dancers – male and female – adding more to the performance. After a couple songs they took a little dance intermission to give each performer a chance to shine and show what they do best, which the crowd seemed to enjoy. I will admit that Becky G’s dancing seemed a little stiff but as far as I could tell she was singing over the backtrack and not lip syncing which could have been the reason why her dancing was limited. That’s always a tough call when it comes to being a pop star – do you lip sync and go hard with your dance routines or do you show the crowd what your voice can really do and leave the entertainment to the dancers? Seeing as she is still young and fresh-faced to the pop world I’m sure she will develop a better feel for what she wants to do with her career. She definitely seems like she is taking control and not letting the industry force feed her with what they want her to be. Unsurprisingly, she finished out her set with her hit single “Shower” which sounded like every single person in the crowd was singing along with her. She definitely has a bright career ahead of her, but for this performance I think her dancers may have outshined her a little. I wouldn’t mind seeing some acoustic performances from her to get a real feel for her voice.
Before Jason Derulo took the stage, DJ Papo (also using #JokerMusic as part of his identity) provided us with a nice mix to pump us up before Derulo and his crew took the stage. I felt that Awsumo’s set was better but this kid knew what he was doing too. As Derulo was preparing to start, his dancers (Dionne, JD, Jeremy, Maho, Ragon and Toshi, choreographed by Amy Allen) put on a bit of a show for us which I think was a great way to start up the performance. The second Derulo took the stage you knew things were about to be amazing. Oh yeah, did I mention he was set to perform for nearly two hours? Yes, that’s right – nearly two hours of singing, dancing, and entertaining. Not many artists can handle that long of a set list other than on the last night of tour but Derulo was scheduled to do this every night.
With 20+ songs and a good amount of dance breaks, there was no doubt that the crowd was going to get their money’s worth. Opening with two of his earlier hits, “In My Head” and “Whatcha Say”, it was obvious that Derulo was going to put on a phenomenal performance. Between the smooth dance moves and flawless vocals (include a falsetto that makes you weak in the knees) it was obvious that he deserved every bit of fame he has earned. I’ll admit it, I was in awe of his talent and his on-stage charm and may have fallen victim to one of his smile/wink combos thrown my way that made me feel like one of the teenage girls next to me. Lets be honest, Jason Derulo is the complete package. But lets not forget the bonus that comes along with that package and that is the extraordinary dancers he has up there with him. I could spend days watching them dance around with perfection and style. Not a single step was out of place and they made sure to share smirks and other facial interactions with the crowd. Throughout the set there would be freestyle breaks where a couple dancers at a time would get their moment to show what they do best and lets just say that every one of them deserves an award. Derulo has scored himself a stellar support team and as a fan I would like to say THANK YOU for having them out there.
Another entertaining note to the performance was the use of the projector screens and syncing them up with live dance routines (including some fancy hat tricks) that brought a whole other element to the show. Towards the middle of the set when Jason began singing the opening lines to his song “Marry Me” it was almost hard to hear him with how loud and powerful the crowd was singing the lyrics back to him. That has to be one of the best feelings as an artist, and judging by the smile across his face I would say he is very grateful for each and every one of his fans. Adding to the fun pop vibe, Derulo and his crew threw in some covers including “Blurred Lines” and a little Sam Smith action. Also adding to the entertainment, the dancers took a fitness break which included bringing some girls up from the crowd to lay on their backs as they did pushups. A little odd but a great way to get the crowd involved on a different level. Derulo also took the time to introduce an upcoming rap artist, Boi Fresh, who we’ll definitely be seeing more of since he’s going to be part of Derulo’s label Future History. I may not know a lot about the rap scene but Fresh had a great flow to him and has my attention. We made sure to connect with his manager at the end of the night so we can get some more coverage with him in the future.
After another DJ break (which included DJ Papo utilizing the trampolines for extra energy) Derulo returned to the stage, lead by Dionne and Ragon on all fours with ropes as leashes to the music of “Kama Sutra”, which lead to some interesting choreography. I feel like the routine was censored a bit out of respect to the younger crowd and could have had more potential – but that’s just me. I guess its better not to get too racy with a song like that. I will admit, it definitely skeeved me out a bit seeing the younger crowd sing along to that one. One thing that kinda took me by surprise was that “Vertigo” was part of the set, even with the recent events in Derulo’s personal life (which sadly isn’t very personal when you’re a pop star). You could see and hear the emotion in his voice while singing but it was easy to get distracted by the beautiful dance routine being performed which showcased Ragon’s ballet/formal dance expertise.
The night ended with three of the biggest songs from Talk Dirty; “Wiggle”, “Trumpets”, and of course, “Talk Dirty”. Bringing the performance to a close was one of my personal favorites, “Trumpets”, which included the use of actual trumpets in the dance routine adding an extra dose of cuteness because lets face it, that song is effing adorable. I left the show with smiles and good vibes. I also noticed both Fresh and DJ Papo wandering the crowd, stopping to sign autographs, take photos and chat with anyone that wanted some of their time. It’s always nice seeing how humble musicians and performers can be and there’s no doubt in my mind that this would be one of the best groups of people to tour with. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll get to do a #TOURLIFE feature and find out what its really like to be part of their traveling family.
(Words and photos by Envy. Show date: 10/26/14)