I Love the 90’s party continued in Utica

 

The Utica Memorial Auditorium was host to a nostalgia filled night of music as the “I Love The 90s” tour rolled into town. The lineup featured SNAP!, C+C Music Factory, Young MC, Color Me Badd, All-4-One, Naughty by Nature and headliner Vanilla Ice. Anyone who came of age in the early nineties was certainly in for a treat.

No one played an overly long set, with SNAP! and C+C Music Factory playing only two songs each. SNAP! (minus rapper Turbo B) performed their hits “Rhythm is a Dancer” and “The Power.” Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory came out to perform “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…” and the ubiquitous #1 smash hit from 1991 “Gonna Make you Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).”

Next up was Grammy award winning rapper Young MC. The almost 50 year young artist performed a little longer, staying for about five songs. He performed a few new songs as well as older hits such as “Fastest Rhyme” (which lived up to its name) and his classic “Bust A Move” which won the second ever Grammy for rap performance.

Popular boy band Color Me Badd then graced the stage to close out the first half of the show before a short intermission. After the high energy dance and rap of the first three acts, Color Me Badd changed it up a bit with some pop harmonies. The trio (original member Sam Watters is no longer with the group) was in perfect sync on both vocals and with their dance moves. They performed their hits “All For Love,” “I Adore Mi Amore” and “I Wanna Sex You Up.”

With a full complement of original members, All-4-One kicked off the second half of the evening. With each member dressed all in white, they crooned in harmony to “I Can Love You Like That” and “Skillz.” They then went into a trio of songs that “defined the 90s” which included “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men, “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, and “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe. They finished out their set with their hit ballad “I Swear.” All the boys were sounding in top form, with Jamie Jones and Delious Kennedy in particular showing some serious vocal chops. They had the whole audience swooning.

And then it was time for something completely different. Rap group Naughty by Nature, fronted by original members Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee, opened their set with their (barely) radio friendly hit “O.P.P.” Naughty by Nature was by far the most hardcore act of the night. Their banter with the audience had no shortage of colorful expletives. Treach, who started the show in a hooded fur coat and several tops underneath, slowly shed layers as they rapped their way through hits “HIp Hop Hooray” and “Uptown Anthem” until he finally wound up shirtless. They performed a tribute to rap legends Biggie Smalls and Tupac. At one point during the tribute Treach poured a shot of Hennessy cognac straight from the bottle over his tattoo of Tupac. Despite them trying to keep a tough exterior, the excitement of the crowd would sometimes cause them to crack a decidedly unhardcore smile.

All of this was just warm up though for what would turn into a giant party celebrating all things 90s; headliner Vanilla Ice. He wasted no time in dropping rhymes with a blistering version of his song “Prozac.” His stage set was a bit more elaborate than the others. There was an inflatable Grim Reaper, a DJ and a drum kit (which was the only live instrument of the night). He talked to the crowd about how great the 90s were, referencing everything from the fashion to the music to the types of parties. Everyone (or at least the ones old enough to remember) yelled and applauded in shared nostalgia as Ice brought them down memory lane. He also performed “Ninja Rap” from the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.

About halfway through his show he started bringing audience members up on stage with him, to the point where there was hardly room for him. He disappeared for a moment and then re-emerged wearing an American flag leather jacket and went into his classic “Ice Ice Baby.” Everyone in the Aud was singing along and the dozens of people on stage with him were dancing and partying and having a grand old time. Ice kept the party going on stage until the end of the show as he tore through a few more songs, including a cover of Ginuwine’s “Pony.” He always had a smile on his face and seemed to genuinely be having a blast with everyone on stage. He ended the show with many thanks to those who came out and gave a big shout out to members of our military.

Whether people showed up to reminisce about the music of their youth, or experience the music of a generation just missed, everyone left feeling good having been transported back to one of the most  fun eras in pop culture.

The I Love The 90s tour continues through October with dates around the world in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

 

 

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