Review: The Group Hug Tour brings Kreayshawn to the Orpheum 

Though I unabashedly own up to every bad song I enjoy, if I were forced to compile a list of my guilty pleasures from the last two years, there at the top, along with Britney's "I Wanna Go" and Far East Movement's "Like a G6" would be Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci." I heard it first via YouTube and after becoming smitten, played the song any time possible. (I even covered it solo, rapping to the 'hipstrumental' track, at one of my band's shows, learning, alas, that I'll never have a career in hip hop.)

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice, and while this isn't always true, in Kreayshawn's case, it is. All of her other songs on YouTube are unlistenable. "Go Hard (La.La.La.)," her latest single, makes me angry with its even-for-a-pop-song vapidity. Thus, I arrived at the Orpheum on Thursday night with low expectations. I was, however, surprised by the end of the night, as I'd never fathomed a show could be so irredeemably bad. [Text by Shae, photos by Tracy.]

As I took a stool in a dark back corner of Orpheum, I anticipated a spectacle, something campy and fun, full of glitter and meows and other cat references. It was called the "Group Hug Tour," right? It was sure to be playful, spunky and in full Technicolor, like Lisa Frank stickers grown up a bit. Lisa Frank stickers with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. That's what I pictured. That's what I hoped for. But that little fantasy bubble burst the moment the first rapper, Chippy Nonstop, pranced onto the stage. Dressed in a cropped, fringed t-shirt with "Bitch" in hot pink emblazoned across the chest and a skin-tight leopard-print skirt three inches short of being pornographic, Chippy spent the next 20 minutes or so gyrating and bouncing her assets like a meatball from Jersey Shore. When she could be bothered, she rapped a bit to a pre-recorded track. Her hype-man did the same. Two girls from the audience who Chippy described as "scandalously dressed" were brought on stage to tell us all about the time they got kicked out of a club, and spent the next song gyrating with the rapper. She later tried to stage-dive, to little success. To be fair, the crowd was only about five rows deep at the time.

Honey Cocaine followed. Judging by the shrieks from the audience, some people actually knew who she was. Unlike Chippy Nonstop, who rapped to a vocal track the entire time, Honey actually delivered a few verses without the pre-recorded safety-net. Though in her white fur vest, short (and I mean short) cut-offs and array of gold chains she looked more like a child dressing as a rapper for Halloween, Honey proved she was (on her way to becoming) the real deal, with her rhyming capabilities and decent flow. In what felt like the only moment of authenticity the entire night, Honey introduced a song she wrote "after getting shot." For some reason, she needed to bring 10 people on stage to help her with the song by dancing behind her (and in truth, the bouncer couldn't count; only nine people were escorted up), but at the end, she appeared visibly affected and confessed that the flashbacks that came with the song made it difficult for her to play. Was she really shot? Maybe grazed, I don't know, but it did seem more honest than the numerous songs about acquiring vast sums of wealth I'd heard so far.

The next act, Rye Rye, offered more of the scantily-clad gyrations I'd come to expect by that point. The backing track she, too, rapped along with had been turned up dramatically, so it was difficult to hear most of her set aside from the thumping beats. Even with that disadvantage, it was clear she was more practiced and polished than the previous two acts. Her rhymes came fast, with the words zipping by in a speeding, cartoonish voice reminiscent of Nicki Minaj. Also reminiscent of Minaj: the bright shocks of pink in Rye Rye’s hair and matching bra, which she wore beneath some sort of leather-and-mesh vest concoction. Few people danced or pumped their fists. Most, like me, were immobile, either seated or standing, and checking their phones.

Finally, Kreayshawn slinked onto the stage. In a pair of metal-studded black pants and a tight white muscle tee, Kreayshawn (born Natassia Zolot) was, by far, the most dressed performer of the night, though I'm loath to call her the most talented (even if she was the most well-known). Maybe it was the pigtails she had her hair pulled into, or maybe it was just a general lack of nuance, but her entire set seemed juvenile. Yes, she's only in her early 20's, but more often than not, I was reminded of a 4-year-old with a microphone in her hands for the first time; she didn't sing or rap, but screamed shrilly with little variation in volume, pitch or rhythm. When she called a group of audience members on stage to twerk for a song, I felt as if I was in either a really sad circus or a Harmony Korine movie. I can appreciate style over substance, but Kreayshawn's set felt devoid of both. Halfway through, I was itching to leave, without even hearing "Gucci Gucci," the sole reason I came to the show. But I stayed, and "Gucci Gucci," which she saved for last, was the definite highlight of the evening, for me as well as most of the audience, judging by their squeals and their dancing.

In the end, I felt like the Kreayshawn show was best suited for those under the influence and under the age of 23, and sadly (or maybe not so sadly), I was neither.


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