N*E*R*D at FriendsWithYou's Rainbow City Art Basel Party, December 2

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Paper Magazine and AOL Presents

FriendsWithYou Opening
With a performance by N*E*R*D

At Rainbow City, Miami

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Better than: Being treated like worthless shit by security.

If you were part of the massive mob outside Rainbow City yesterday, waiting to catch a glimpse of Pharrell Williams and N*E*R*D, we feel your pain. Pushing and shoving was at an ultimate high, and doormen (actually, women in particular) were extremely hostile and aggressive -- a weird juxtaposition with the happy, sunshiny 'tude of artist collective FriendsWithYou. But we don't let bad vibes or mean people get us down. Especially not when there are bounce houses and inflatable art involved.

We arrived amid the chaos, rushed past the red carpet, and through the field of larger-than-life, bouncy bundles of joy to make our way to the stage. Pharrell and company started a little after 10:30 p.m., and the crowd was packed with fashion heavyweights (like Christian Louboutin), incognito celebrities, and people who were dressed so exuberantly, we couldn't help but think they were doing it for the chance to come out on the pages of Paper. They donned their Marc Jacobs bunny ears, their Lady Gaga-esque highwaisted grandma underoos, and posed with men that were dressed in head-to-toe bundles of yarn. But we're not really here to talk about the fashion. 

Williams mixed in lesser-known tracks with hits like "She Wants to Move," and a lot of the people in the audience seemed almost more concerned with whether or not they'd catch a nip slip from one of the dancers than the actual content coming from Pharrell's mouth. He still went on, calling us "artsy fartsy" every chance he got, and saying how amazing it is to be around so many creatives. But were they all just there for the free show and the free beer?

The crowd got particularly hyped for "Backseat love" and "Hypnotize You," which screamed sexuality and raw energy. Don't adjust your screen. Yes, that is Pharrell simulating adjusting something else.

We were a bit worried that we'd somehow wind up in a compromising position considering all the sexual energy floating around. Williams kept shouting how horny N*E*R*D makes people, and the audience shouted it back, agreeing, and practically dry humping the stage.

What really caught us off guard was when a fan attempted to jump on stage, and security escorted him away. Pharrell wasn't having it, and stopped midway into "Lap Dance" and shouted into the mic, "Yo, security! Let that kid back in ... This is FriendsWithYou, not enemies with you!" before bringing the dude on stage with him to dance out his frustrations.

The best part? Pharrell got the entire crowd to get on their knees. We were a bit skeptical at first. (Was he going to simulate a BJ or something?) But when he got us all to "jump" and jumped right back into "Lap Dance," it made grass-stained knees totally worth it. We caught it all on video below. 

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I was kind of a fan of N*E*R*D in high school, but that was about it. I was probably one of their toughest critics there, and still managed to have fun.

The Crowd: Bohemians, artsy folk, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, hipsters, art collectors, celebrities.

Overheard in the Crowd: From a fashionable 20-something girl, "I feel ashamed for saying this, but I need to have those dancers' bodies. So sick."

Random Detail: The security at this event was the worst I've ever seen. Extremely rude, yelling things like, "I don't give a shit who the fuck you are." They wouldn't even let press in, and had no idea how to organize a massive group of people. It took us about 45 minutes to get through the mob. And after 10 phone calls, we finally made it in.

N*E*R*D Partial Setlist:
-"She Wants to Move"
-"Backseat Love"
-"Hypnotize You"
-"Everyone Nose"

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