Gyptian, Jagged Edge and 112's Slim at FMU's Homecoming

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When Florida Memorial University does a homecoming show, they do it loooooong.

The first performers came on at 7 p.m., and the last one didn't leave the stage until close to midnight. Maybe the other attendees knew this in advance and so decided to conserve their energy, refraining from such taxing activities as clapping or cheering.

This is the only way I can explain what was, with few exceptions, the least enthused homecoming crowd I have ever seen.

The concert was held in the campus' A. Chester Robinson Athletic Center, or in other words, a gym. As with all gyms, the acoustics were made difficult for all acts, except of course for the step-off performers, of which there were to be many. Prince Markie D. of Fatboys fame (yes, he's still pretty fat), now a DJ on 99 Jams radio, emceed the show, his witty interludes eliciting a few laughs from the otherwise sullen crowd throughout the night.    

Some local DJs pumped some bass-heavy hip hop through the speakers as a teen girl step team, the Significant Steppers of the Family Christian Association of America took the stage. They simulated a football game through their routine, providing a nice warm-up for the impressive Greek step teams that would follow. At intervals between celebrity vocal performances, sorority and fraternity step teams performed expressive and well-choreographed routines with themes that ranged from Kill Bill, to robot steppers, to escaped convicts. Among the highlights was a stunt where four male students held up a wooden platform upon which a fifth student danced, stomping with all the force he could muster. Back flips, collapsible human pyramids, and capoeira-style fight simulations were also remarkable. 

Slim of the R&B group 112 then took over the stage, hitting some admirable high notes with his rich, polished voice. He performed rendition of 112's "Peaches 'n' Cream" and "Cupid," putting forth a heartfelt, energetic performance... and yet the crowd looked nearly comatose. Maybe they ate too many conch fritters from one of the delicious-smelling concession stands outside the gym?

Whatever the reason, it seemed that nothing could stir the glacial audience.

When Jagged Edge took over though, and began performing their 2000 hit "Let's Get Married," a good number of ladies in the crowd jerked to their feet as though pulled up by puppeteers. The foursome, wearing a general uniform of black tee and jeans, worked the stage energetically, regardless of the venue's disadvantages. Still, once the group got past the initial well-known hits, it was as though someone pulled the battery-pack out of the audience. Even one of the band members remarked that it was the quietest homecoming crowd he'd ever witnessed. 

By the time Gyptian took hold of the mic, still smiling despite the fact that his time-slot had been moved back by an hour and a half, many show-goers began to file out. Unfazed, the charming Jamaican cooed his dancehall tunes to the remaining crowd, coaxing them out of their seats to dance. He made his way through his best-known repertoire, offering "Beautiful Lady," and "I Can Feel Your Pain," mixing in some lesser-known tunes, and finishing with the favorite "Hold You." When the crowd finally spilled out onto the lawn after the marathon variety show, the charred smell of jerk chicken still hung in the air.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I must admit I prefer concerts that are not in gyms... but it was a homecoming event, and so totally fitting. I'm just saying.

Random Detail:
The first university step group's Kung Fu theme was essentially abstract performance art, complete with what appeared to be a drunken master and some pretty brave primal screams from the dancers. 

Overheard in the Crowd: "Yeah, medium tee!" (I have no idea what was meant by this.)

Gyptian's Setlist:
-"Is There a Place?"
-"Mama Don't Cry"
-"My Father Say"
-"You Never Know"
-"I Can Feel Your Pain"
-"Beautiful Lady"
-"Nah Let Go"

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