Review: ‘Power Bash’ at the Waikiki Shell
REVIEW BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
For all the negative attention Chris Brown has endured lately — whether it be legal matters, health scares or celebrity beef — the 24-year old abilities as a top-tier live performer have never been questioned. Brown’s wordly talents were on full display as he took center stage at the first annual “Power Bash” at the Waikiki Shell on Friday, Aug. 23.
With a large portion of the Shell parking lot unavailable due to construction, fans were still trickling in as Toronto female rapstress Honey Cocaine encouraged the all-ages crowd to “Throw your middle fingers in the air.” Large clusters of empty seats were hard not to notice along with the lackluster vibe.
All was not lost however, as the crowd’s energy level picked up when Australian rap vixen Iggy Azalea took the stage.
Dressed in a dark green body suit, Azalea took control from the onset of her 30-minute performance, highlighted by twerk-friendly hits “Bounce” and “Work.” Her raps had groups of females from the front row to the lawn dancing up a frenzy.
The Aussie MC was backed by four dancers adorned in shimmery gold tops and matching booty shorts who took part in most of the derriere shaking, while she pranced from one side of the stage to the other. At one point, the MTV Video Music Awards Artist to Watch nominee slapped one dancer’s backside and said, “I want to see some cheek. All the girls with the cheek, where you at?”
AFTER WHAT threatened to become a momentum-killing intermission and set change, it was finally time for Chris Breezy to perform.
Decked out in a black button down baseball jersey with “Hawaii” stitched across the chest, white pants, a fresh pair of gray Jordans, a white snapback hat and glasses, Brown began his set with the infectiously inspiring “Beautiful People.” After leaving the stage for a brief moment, he returned without the hat and glasses to perform “She Ain’t You.”
Brown’s fluid dance moves combined with is charisma and sex appeal put the crowd in the palm of his hand from the onset. He was accompanied by four dancers and two background singers wearing black conical hats and outfits equipped with tricked-out LCD lighting, plus an extensive stage setup complete with three LED screens.
Early hits like “Run It,” “Wall to Wall” and “Kiss Kiss” were absent from his set — much to the chagrin of longtime fans — but the Virginia native seamlessly switched gears from R&B tunes like “Love More” and “Deuces” to EDM-based songs like “I Want To See You Tonight” from his current catalog.
It was clear by this point the stage is the maligned singer’s happy place. Brown seemed to very much in the moment; if he wasn’t dancing, his eyes would be fixated on the ground or closed, as if he were taking in the pure emotion of the songs.
While shrieks of adoration and fans literally running out of storage space on their smart phones trying to capture his every move, Brown’s vocal prowess was on full display with power ballad “Take It To The Head,” which left the large female contingency at the Shell cooing in approval.
Midway through the show, Brown, drenched in sweat, asked the crowd, “How many 18-and-over fans are in the building tonight?”
After receiving a loud reply, Brown jokingly responded, “To the parents, I’m sorry for taking my shirt off.”
Aside from a Michael Jackson-esque crouch grab and bearing his tattooed torso most of the night, the expletives and sexual innuendos that filled most of the early performances gave way to a PG-13 rated set from Brown.
The nightcap featured him performing his biggest hit of the year, “Fine China,” which was the perfect way to end the night. As Brown and his crew left the stage, the crowd stuck around anticipating an encore that never came.
Almost fittingly, the lyrics from “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley — “Every little thing / Is going to be alright” —signified to the befuddled crowd the show was a wrap.
Despite the abrupt ending to Brown’s 40-minute set, the inaugural “Power Bash” lived up to the hype and hefty ticket price. While much is made about his personal life issues with the law and rants on social media, it was refreshing for one night to see Brown’s talents as a performer take precedence over tabloid scrutiny.
On this night, Brown showed Hawaii that while he’s far from perfect, on stage he can do no wrong.