After what seemed like an extended winter in Baltimore, the weekend of March 12th brought with it some spring like temperatures that the whole city couldn’t wait to see, but that wasn’t the only thing that it brought.
In with the 50 degree weather blew the Baltimore Spring Fest concert. This was the second year in a row that I had the opportunity to check out this concert series, last year being the first. Presented by G-Squared Events, the Baltimore Spring Fest is what you can consider a throwback concert of sorts, set to feature some of the top R&B/Hip-Hop acts of the 1990’s, which if you ask me, was the best decade for music.
Walking into the Royal Farms Arena Saturday night was sort of a flashback of moments to my childhood. I can clearly remember my parents talking about going to a “cabaret” party, where they would get dressed to the nine on the weekend to go out and have a good time. The imagery of the folks who were in attendance at this show very much painted this picture. Men who were decked out in 3-piece suits, came in tow with their ladies that rocked mink furs and red bottom heels, so you could tell the type of event this would be. There was an absence of the extremely younger crowd, mainly because they don’t identify with the dynamic sounds of such classic music, but that was totally okay with me because you didn’t have to worry about the mishaps of any foolery happening.
Upon walking into the arena after gaining my press passes, I was immediately taken to “Baltimore” when the show DJ was rocking out with a couple of classic Baltimore Club Music tracks, which is sure to get an old school party hype in Charm City. From that moment, I knew tonight was going to be a good night.
MC Lyte would be the one to guide us on this musical journey that we were about to embark on. Known as one who would normally rock the stage in another capacity, Lyte was the hostess with the most-est as she came out to get the crowd hype. Many of the females in attendance actually mentioned that they came out to see her, since she was one of the most prominent female musical figures who they could relate to when they were coming up during the 80’s. Did you think that Lyte would only introduce the performers and keep the party going, of course not! Inbetween musical sets, she gave the crowd a little of what we know her for, being a true lyricist…the most notable moment was when she performed her verse from Brandy’s 1995 hit, ‘I Wanna Be Down‘ remix. Hopefully next year, the promoters of the event will have her on the bill as an actual performer.
So it’s time for the first act, and at around 8:20 PM rolling out on the stage were those boys from Atlanta, Jagged Edge. The group wasn’t quite like most people remember them, because there were only 3 members on stage, instead of the original four, but that did not stop them from delivering a powerhouse vocal performance. You could tell that the soul and emotion that was displayed via their music from the late 90’s – early 00’s was still there. Their show was about 20 minutes in running time, but unfortunately we couldn’t get to see a full set from the group since they mentioned that their time was being cut short. Those kind of setbacks suck for concert goers, but tend to happen frequently for shows that carry a fully stacked lineup of artist. Not to leave on a down note, they closed the show with the party anthem, ‘Where The Party At?!’.
Next on stage was the man who is one of the people instrumental in trying to bring on a full revival of modern day R&B music (since everyone claims that it’s “dead”) and that’s Tank. As soon as he hit the stage dressed in a white suit singing his single “Maybe I Deserve”, you could hear nothing but screams from all of the women that were in love with this dude. I’m actually shocked that I didn’t see any panties being thrown on stage lol He continued to roll through his past hits, performing the 2007 hit “Please Don’t Go” before switching lanes to bring people into 2016.
The next section of his show focused primarily on the new music from his February release, “Sex Love & Pain II”, in which set things off by performing the title track. It’s often refreshing to see artist who have recently put out music to take a “risk” and perform a decent portion of their new material to the general public who may not have heard it, and are only there to see songs that they recognize as hits. The audience seemed pretty receptive as he rolled through six of the twelve tracks that were on the album. He closed out with my personal favorite, “#BDay”, which is his current single and features Chris Brown and female rapper Siya.
The next set of performers is a group of guys who we really haven’t heard from since the early 2000’s, and that’s the Teddy Riley group BLACKstreet. That’s right ladies and gentleman, the “No Diggity” boys of the 90’s are back on the touring circuit. Much like Jagged Edge, the lineup looked a little modified when there were two new members added to the mix, along with original members Teddy Riley and Dave Hollister.
Midway through their set, Mr. Riley took center stage and made the show about him, and easily reminded everyone who he was and why he has created a carbon footprint in music. He ran through a 15 minute set which only scratched the surface of material that he produced, mostly relying on New Jack Swing hits. I’ll honestly say this is the part of the show that I loved the most because I have an infinite love for the sub-genre that was honed in the late 80’s and came to full prominence in the early to mid 90’s.
The last act of the show was Mr. Keith Sweat, who decided to open up the Sweat Hotel for the good people of Baltimore. From the moment he stepped on stage and kicked his set off with “Stop Your Love”, you could feel that he was about to take us on a serious trip down memory lane.
Being out on stage for what seemed like an hour and a half, he ran through such memorable songs such as “Twisted”, “Nobody”, and the one hit song that touched almost everybody in that place, “Make It Last Forever”.
One thing we can say about a Keith Sweat show is that he doesn’t make it all about himself. At one point he brought fellow R&B crooner Tank out on stage to sing “My Body”, which was made popular by his former group LSG. There were also several times where he stopped to talk to the audience and truly make them feel one with the show. One instance in particular was when he invited 4 eager participants up on stage to enjoy the show. Things got a bit intense when one of the guys he pulled up picked up a female and started humping her. It was definitely reminiscent to one of those old school “freak parties” your parents used to throw back in the day.
If you’re a fan of old school R&B and love music, we advise you to check out Keith Sweat the next time he’s in your town. The whole entire lineup for this show was phenomenal, and we can’t wait to see who will headline the 2017 Baltimore Spring Fest concert.