Salt N Pepa / En Vogue / Maestro Fresh Wes / Fat Joe Echo Beach, Toronto ON, September 27
Published Sep 28, 2015They wore the jackets.
Those customized S-N-P leather 8-ball jackets: yellow, red, black, green and white, bold and baggy, as if snatched right off the set of the "Push It" video from 1987.
The legendary Salt-N-Pepa, who haven't recorded an album together in nearly two decades, embodied the spirit of FLOW 93.5's Throwback Birthday Bash Sunday night (September 27), jackets and all.
Entranced by their dance moves and sparkly ball caps, concertgoers who forgot that the rap trio (yes, DJ Spinderella was in the house) are pushing 50 should be excused, as fun party jams like "Shake Your Thang," "I'll Take Your Man" and "Tramp" have aged wonderfully. Consider: this is a group that formed 30 years ago. When was the last time you went to a hip-hop show and the headliner asked for "all the '60s babies" to make noise? And actually got a response?
The Salt-N-Pepa beach party was supported by a series of past-their-prime hit-makers whose classic club jams still get burn on FLOW: local heroes Maestro Fresh-Wes and Choclair gave way to a slimmed-down Fat Joe. But really, this was ladies' night. Estrogen owned the stage and the crowd.
Oakland R&B trio En Vogue — whom I had to explain to a 20-something were kinda like Destiny's Child before Destiny's Child — looked and sounded sharp, delivering their greatest radio hits from the '90s: "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)," "Free Yo Mind" and undeniable finisher "Hold On."
S-N-P, backed by a pair of male dancers in Adidas trackpants, drew the largest throng and the giddiest reaction. After a sample of Biggie's opening "Juicy" verse blared — "It was all a dream/ I used to read Word Up! Magazine / Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine!"— the receptive listeners ate up renditions of "My Mic Sounds Nice," "Let's Talk About Sex" and "Expression." The women legitimately looked to be having a blast on stage, but instead of having Spinderella play a medley of other artists' throwbacks, we would've rather they take a chance by using that time to perform a couple more album cuts.
Instead, Salt-N-Pepa played things safe by sticking to the hits, of which the five-time Grammy winners have a few. "Shoop" set up the inevitable encore, while En Vogue returned to the stage for an epic performance of "Whatta Man."
Often male emcees invite willing females onstage to dance during a finale. It was refreshing to see the role flipped Sunday, as a handful of dudes — dance skills of varying degrees — joined the five women to close the show.