It was the Thursday of my spring break (or, as I like to call it, the "perfect excuse for being drunk for 7 days straight"). Passed out in my bed, crippled by a hang over from the previous night's festivities, I was awakened by a phone call; "Dude, Kelis is at La Boom tonight. Be ready in 20." I quickly got dressed and before I knew it I was stepping into my friend's car, about to be whisked away to a whimsical night of musical seduction.
Sipping on a much-needed latte in the car, I started to think, do I even like Kelis? I mean sure, I know her songs. What girl didn't relate to her '99 breakthrough single "Caught Out There"? What guy hasn't used a "Milkshake" line in an attempt to pickup a girl? Honestly though, isn't Kelis more known for her catchy hooks on other people's singles? Isn't she just a success-bearing hip-hop collaborator? Actually, her latest "featuring" spot on Enrique Iglesias' new single "Not In Love" would even rob her of that title! I started to think that I would have been better off staying in bed.
When we arrived at our destination the number of people amazed us. I guess a mainstream artist performing for a mere $15 is enough to sell out any nightclub. As I walked through the maze of rooms otherwise known as La Boom, I got lost among a sea of fans, those there simply to witness a little milkshake action and people who wanted to be seen at that night's "place to be". Still unsure of which category I fell into, I decided to go with the flow, kicked off my dancing shoes and waited…and waited, and waited and waited.
By 12:30 the room was packed and fans were getting anxious. CKOI DJ/animator for the evening, Denis Fortin, was growing increasingly more annoying with every mention of Kel-lis' arrival (it's Kelis dammit!). Finally, the warm-up act took the stage. To my surprise it was Toronto's own Melanie Durant. She managed to get the crowd going with her intoxicating single "Where I'm Going", but her extended set and additional half-hour intermission only made the audience more restless.
Just as I was about to give up hope, the DJ started spinning a medley of Kelis-collaborated tunes. The crowd was revived! From behind the turntables, Kelis took centre stage to greet her audience (out of necessity, not politeness), no one recognized the sultry singer. Her straightened hair and designer duds were much more demure than the usual hot pants and kinky curls we've all come to expect. Even when she spoke, her voice seemed more seductive than usual. "I'm just going to have a seat and chill", she said, "after all, it's not about show business, tonight, it's all about the music."
As she set up her scribbled lyrics in front of her she warned the crowd that she was out of practice. She had performed in Toronto the night before, but these were the first performances of her mini tour before heading out with Britney for the summer. Accompanied by a five-piece band, a DJ and a back-up singer, she managed to put together an intimate set that featured tracks off all three of her albums. Between each song, she took time to thank everyone for coming out to see her, blew kisses, winked and even sang "Happy Birthday" to a lucky fan. After allowing the band members to showcase their individual talents, Kelis returned to end the show with an energetic performance of "Milkshake" that left the audience begging for seconds. Although it now seems like it very well could have been a dream, I am definitely glad I got out of bed for this one.
For those of you who missed this performance, you can catch Kelis on April 4th at The Bell Centre. Of course, not even the refreshments will be 15 bucks…and you'll have to sit through Britney Spears, but hey…you snooze you lose!
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