Review: T-Pain at the Ogden Theatre, 2/26/12


In a display of what can only be described as obnoxious, drunken, ego-driven mania, T-Pain performed for nearly three hours last night to a two-thirds-full Ogden Theatre that, by the end of his reign of terror, was more than half empty. The king of mediocrity in an era of ring-tone attention spans, T-Pain proved he could sort of dance, kind of sing, not really rap and be more than terrible behind the turntables.

Like a set of well-designed and misused crutches, T-Pain was supported by a DJ, a four-piece band, a backup singer and a group of wildly attractive dancers, talent that went to waste as the performer started and stopped songs based solely on how he was feeling. He tricked his crowd by kicking into tracks like "Booty Work," "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" and "Blame It," only to retreat when the energy was getting good.

A gunshot sound effect signaled a crotch-grab from T-Pain, but it felt more like a "fuck you" to his crowd, who by all accounts just wanted to dance and sing along. But like an expert hostage-taker, T-Pain wasn't going to let that happen; he danced when he felt like it and cut the tracks short just as the audience got warmed up.

During "The Boss," Rick Ross's vocal track was choked out by an overload of the high and low ends, treble wrecking the audience's ears while bass shook the venue at an uncomfortable level. Bunny-hopping and sliding across the stage with a self-absorbed glee, T-Pain did more talking than rapping, letting his prerecorded tracks do the work while his band did everything they could to keep things interesting.

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But with all of the combined hard work of his supporting crew, there was nothing to cover up T-Pain's musical impotency; even "I'm N Luv (Wit A Stripper)" and the DJ Khaled-built "All I Do Is Win" lost charm when the performer just could not deliver. To make sure he covered all of the uncomfortable bases, T-Pain led his group in a pseudo tribute to Nirvana, wherein the band played a warped, less-than-a-minute version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" while their fearless leader moshed on stage.

A miniature version of "All the Above" preceded several minutes of tempestuous freestyling -- but it was clear that there was nothing impromptu about T-Pain's work in the given capacity. It was all scripted and boredom-inducing, just like the rest of the set. Like the beyond-inebriated guy at a house party who takes over the iPod and ruins the evening for everyone, T-Pain surfed through "I'm Sprung," E-40's "U And Dat" and R. Kelly's "I'm a Flirt," refusing to allow anyone else in the room enjoy themselves.

A performer being on stage for close to 180 minutes might allude to a lot of ground being covered in his career, but for T-Pain, it meant playing thirty seconds of every song -- more than thirty tracks in this particularly devastating instance -- in his repertoire, between talking to the audience about how great he was. What was so great about him was unclear, though, and this lack of engagement and interest by fans shone visibly by the way the venue became something of a ghost town before this last show on his national tour was even over. If anything, T-Pain's inability to flesh out a single full track proved that he has built a career on being merely second fiddle to every other artist he works with. Once a hook-singer, always a hook-singer.


Personal Bias: I liked T-Pain prior to this show.

Random Detail: T-Pain was wearing a shirt that read "Boobies make me smile."

By the way: T-Pain ranks as one of the worst concerts I've ever been to in the eighteen years I've been going to shows. I will never willingly listen to a track of his ever again, if it is humanly possible. Also, I'd like to give a shout-out to the subs, for vibrating all the way in my uterus.

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

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