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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

OK, I can speak up now

So my editor just posted my review of the John Legend concert on, and that means I can say what I saw last night - my "other" review.

It was butt to gut in Revolution, the concert venue, last night, and folks were sweating more than a room full of hookers at a revival meeting. All I could smell was behind and perspiration. It was like being in a locker room with a really good sound system. That being said, I love the place. It's small. It's old school. It's what an intimate venue is supposed to look like.

But when you're in a tight space with NO seats, standing room only, common sense says get there early for a good spot. I got there an hour before opening act Robin Thicke - no Yasamin and BC, no relation to Alan Thicke, ha ha - took the stage so I could post up in a good spot to see the stage and take notes. Granted, I am 6'3". But why wait? I could have wound up standing behind a dude who was 7'3".

I stopped counting after five, the number of short women (and one short guy) who arrived halfway through the performance and tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to move so they could see.

One woman tapped me, the woman next to me, the guy in front of me and the woman next to him and asked all four of us to move about one foot to the side so that she could have a tunnel of vision between us to the stage. I was pressed up against a pillar on one side and couldn't move. The others refused to move. She cursed us all and loudly complained to her beefy boyfriend that we were being jerks. He snarled but he knew better than to do anything stupid. I was just as big as him...almost. And I may be proper, but when necessary, I can look crazy with the best of 'em. I've got a practiced grimace that can make real thugs think twice. I am too pretty to go to jail, but I've practiced that look in case I ever found myself in that gated accident or mistaken identity, of course.

Anyway, on to the performances.

First, I have to say that by nature, I am not a hater. I believe in giving credit where it's due. So I have to give Robin Thicke props for putting on a really high energy show.

I also have to say though that he lost points with me when he started trying to talk "hoodlish," and then he performed a rap in the chorus of one of his songs.

But here's the most fascinating thing - and I alluded to this in the review: Both Thicke and headliner John Legend are known for their romantic tunes. And as is tradition for soul/R&B singers those types of songs are often belted out in as sensuous a manner as possible.

Speaking from experience and lots of observation, guys tend to be reallllllllllly uncomfortable at soul/R&B shows for that very reason. It doesn't matter if you're there with your girlfriend or wife. No guy wants to hear a good-looking man on stage essentially serenading his woman. Nor does he want to hear that guy between songs telling women things like "I'll be there for ya babe, when your man isn't." And I can assure you that no guy likes to watch another man on stage thrusting his loins and shaking his hips at the women in the crowd.

It's silly. But it is uncomfortable for many of us.

So here's what I observed: Thicke tried really hard. I commend him for his effort. But I think he may have tried too hard. He was shaking his hips like a stripper with rent due. And whoever said that gangsta rappers grab their nether regions too much has not seen Mr. Thicke perform. He held onto his fellas so much, I thought he was checking to make sure they were still attached.

And as predicted, the women loved it. The guys acted like fish out of water.

When John Legend took the stage though, an interesting thing happened. He too sang romantic, sexy songs. But the guys in the audience sang along. They laughed at his jokes. They clapped. As their girlfriends and wives swayed to the music, the guys danced with 'em.

The guys didn't mind Legend's sensuality. They didn't feel threatened by it or embarrassed to like it.

The big difference? Legend had what one guy called a "coolness factor" that didn't require him to try too hard to share that sensual vibe.

Laugh if you want, but not once during the evening did Legend grab at his nether regions. Sure he danced and swayed and what not. But he didn't have to touch himself in order to convince the women in the audience that he was sexy.

But what do I know? I'm just a humble writer.

So I have no moral lessons today. Just arrive early if you want a good view. And if you're an aspiring love-song singer, let your voice do most of the work.

***CORRECTION*** Apparently Robin Thicke is related to Alan Thicke. An astute colleague said she was told Alan's Robin's dad.


  • You guys in your twenties, thirties, and your early forties will eventually get comfortable with your sexuality. Take it from someone beyond his early forties that it doesn't matter if your gal swoons over some entertainer. She may be amused by some crotch jockey, but when it comes to what truly counts, she keeps coming to YOU, (for whatever reason.) Get over it.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 5:50 PM  

  • Tell me, did you grab your nether regions a few times while writing this? Or do you have that coolness factor too?

    I am a crotch grabber.

    By Blogger mist1, at 8:53 PM  

  • Interesting male perspective on concerts. The sarcasticynic has a point. Performers like John Legend and Robin Thicke take care of the foreplay for you. Robin Thicke, by the way, is my new favorite singer. I am absolutely in love with the song "Lost Without U".

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 9:33 PM  

  • I'll take your word for it Sarc. I'm comfortable in my sexuality, so comfortable that there is no confusion. I'm certain I don't want to watch another dude's loin thrusts. As for the swooning I don't think any guy would care if his love swooned over an entertainer. Most of us are smart enough to know our ladies are coming home with us. I'm telling you it's the loose loins that are the deal breaker.

    Grizzbabe, Robin Thicke is a good singer. I just could've done without the rapping the Hoodlish and the loin thrusting.

    And Mist1, I'm too cool to grab my boys while I write. Besides, I need both hands to type properly. And now you've made me curious. Do you mean, like Robin Thicke, you grab your own? For good luck?

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:54 PM  

  • so yeah... good show then? nothing beats a man who can grab his junk to remind us all that hes not missing anything.

    hey why did everyone trip on michael jackson for doing it but now everyone does it and no one trips?


    By Anonymous Yas Hates Blogger Beta, at 9:33 AM  

  • That's interesting about the reaction of the men to both performers. I now have the curious temptation to purchase tickets the next time an R&B crooner comes to Sac and invite a few of my guy friends. And take pictures.

    I loved the column. I am embarassed to admit I have never heard of John Legend, but now I think I am going to have to pick up a CD and take him out for a test drive.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:00 PM  

  • Don't you think Herald readers would have much rathered to read this version in the paper.

    I too am too pretty to go to jail but, like you, I've spent time (fantasizing is the wrong word) mentally preparing for such a contingent. I'd like to think I'd be out free during the (white collar) trial so I can train at the "dojang" and shit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 PM  

  • I'm only 5'9 but the look I practice in the mirror is intended to suggest the possibility that a stabbing could potentially occur.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:58 PM  

  • lmmfao! freaking matt. always making me laugh. now if only i could blog about you guys and your intimidation faces. :p


    buncha peacocks the lot of ya.

    By Anonymous Yasamins Broken, at 1:16 PM  

  • Matt if I ever need someone to watch my back in a crowd of nutjobs, I'm calling on you.

    On the other hand, if you're prone to stabbings maybe I don't want you anywhere near my back.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:21 PM  

  • And Yas, that's a good question about MJ. Everyone did give him a lot of crap for that. Now it seems like that's the first class they teach in new singer school: how to work a grab into your stage show.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:22 PM  

  • No, the one you don't want near your back is Clay Aiken.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 5:20 PM  

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