When a show begins with an open-to-all karaoke session, things could go one of two ways: A bunch of bad singers (or in this case, rappers) could burn up the atmosphere and take the show with them. Or, a motherly figure could appear on stage in festive holiday garb and do unprecedented justice to the Eminem and Dr. Dre jam "Forgot About Dre." Luckily, at KS-107.5's Morning Show Christmas Party, the latter happened.
A gentleman's version of Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz' "Get Low" was also an impressive opener, setting the joyous tone of the event -- which was part-concert and part-Christmas party -- that came complete with drinks, food, booze, red carpet photos opportunities and gambling. Yes, the local radio station had craps and blackjack tables set up for fans, and the place was buzzing with holiday happiness.
Opening with the Dem Franchize Boyz-infused "Oh, I Think They Like Me," Bow Wow stepped out in khaki cargo pants and a white hoodie, prowling the gold glitter-backed stage and shouting "Cash Money" and "Young Money" as he listened for crowd reciprocation. From the get go, the sound system was a muddled mess, the boom-clap of the low-end leaving a deafening, blown out trail behind as Bow Wow moved from song to song. But he talked quite a bit, rapped very little, and most of the time, his vocals fought with themselves, the live work sitting under the weight of his own recorded tracks.
Bow Wow made a plea for the crowd to stop pushing, as it seemed that the small stage wasn't quite equipped to handle the throngs of fans rolling toward it, and a temporary feeling of ease set in. "Outta My System" came and went along with a few other unmemorable tracks, and he closed the so-so set with the more recent "You Can Get it All."
The drinks had well settled in with the crowd before Jeremih came on close to 11 p.m., a restlessness that was only emphasized by the extended time between the sets. After what felt like a chaotic eternity and a few premature dub horn blasts, the R&B singer came out, his beautiful voice heard briefly from back stage during a mike check.
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Looking debonair in sunglasses and a mustard brown leather letter jacket, Jeremih grabbed a hold of his now finicky audience's attention as he scanned the room with a smile. He, too, suffered from the terrorizing thunder of the sound system, but thankfully, his vocals were on point and he held his own with songs like "I'm a Star." A lacy pink bra flew at the singer -- joining a pair of panties that had been tossed up previously -- and Jeremih grinned cautiously before delivering "Down On Me."
Then the show took its best turn, as Jeremih removed his jacket, sat down at a keyboard and prepared to give his adoring crowd what they came for -- "Birthday Sex." Without the bombastic flares of a dub horn and minus all of the bassy garbage from the sound system, the singer was alone with his instrument.
The tempo of "Birthday Sex" flourished in the simplicity of just keys and vocals, Jeremih showcasing his strong and beautiful voice to captive ears and point-and-shoot lenses. He shared "I Like" from the same position behind the keyboard, before getting up and taking his glasses off, his hands reaching into the crowd as he serenaded them. Coming to what felt like an abrupt ending, Jeremih waved goodbye the audience, the small sea of hands and cameras waved back with a boozy glee.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: My band covers "Birthday Sex." Therefore I will forever love Jeremih. Random Detail: Three fights broke out in the three and a half hours I was there. All of them were between women. By The Way: Seeing your favorite radio personalities -- Larry, Kendall and Kathy -- from your favorite morning show in real life is weird. Putting a person to a voice never seems to match what you had in your mind.