Chris Brown Leads UCP Tour Through Chicago [Exclusive Coverage]
Words and Photos by: Brian "Z" Zisook
Chicago, IL -- The Up Close & Personal Tour, featuring Chris Brown, Soulja Boy, The Shop Boyz and Lil Mama, made its way into Chicago this past Friday night and a sold-out crowd of 12,000 screaming fans were treated to surprises both good and bad.
Following the tour’s opening night in Cincinnati, Ohio, co-headliner Bow Wow was rushed to a hospital for what was believed to be exhaustion. (Since then DJBooth has learned that the symptoms Bow Wow experienced were a result of an infection to his appendix. He will resume his place on the tour following its stop in Baltimore).
While Bow Wow’s slot was not filled with another act, the remaining acts picked up the slack and each gave rousing performances.
Sold-Out crowd at Allstate Arena
Jive artist Lil’ Mama opened the showed (almost forty minutes late) and during her ten minute set performed several of the songs (Lip Gloss, G-Slide Tour Bus) that will appear on her 2008 debut album, “The Voice of the Young People.”
Although Lil’ Mama's appearance was short, her set impressed many in attendance who were previously unfamiliar with her music. According to concert goer Liz McCune, 24, “Lil’ Mama was the best; she put on a great show.”
The Shop Boyz Perform
Next up was Universal’s Shop Boyz who also had a shortened set of fifteen-minutes. As expected the crowd went wild during “Totally Dude” and the Grammy-nominated hit, “Party Like A Rockstar.”
Interscope’s cultural phenom Soulja Boy was the third act of the evening, but technical difficulties beyond his control unfortunately tainted his otherwise entertaining performance.
Sporting a jersey from Chicago Bulls center, Ben Wallace, the Chicago-born and Mississippi-bred rapper energized the crowd as he slowly crawled out onto the stage and then began a chant of “Yuuuuh.” To the surprise of many, ten minutes into his set he was joining on stage by special guests Hurricane Chris and crunk legend Lil’ Jon.
Soulja Boy Performs
Despite the onstage guests, the crowd was enraged during the bulk of Soulja Boy’s twenty-five minute after the audio feed from the artists’ microphones went out. As Soulja Boy tried to entice the crowd to rap along with him, the masses began to chant “We Can’t Hear You!” Thankfully the problem was corrected just in time for the last (and most anticipated) song of his set, “Crank That Soulja Boy.”
After a forty-minute set change the crowd finally got what they came for: Chris Brown. Following a space age introduction that included pyrotechnics and a short five minute animated movie that featured Chris as a superhero, a suspended Brown came cascading down from the ceiling of Rosemont’s Allstate Arena.
To the shrieks and cheers of the thousands in attendance Brown immediately jumped into “Wall to Wall,” the first single off his new album “Exclusive.” Brown performed for 95-minutes, but at times struggled to keep the crowd engaged during wardrobe changes and the jump to a second (rotating) stage in the back of the arena.
Included in Brown’s set list were his two current singles, “Kiss Kiss” and “With You,” as well as “Damage,” “I Wanna Be,” and “Lottery.” In spite of the quality of Brown’s new music, the crowd most enjoyed the pure energy of Brown’s introduction into the industry, “Run It.”
Due to a vocal rest Brown was unable to provide DJBooth with an interview following the show.