In the past ten years of my life, I have approximately thought for about 9.58 seconds(or approximately the amount of time that it takes Usain Bolt to run the 100 meter dash) about Britney Spears’ music in any context other than “what is this terrible noise and why is it screeching from my car radio?” (Fuck It! I’m a hater.) Let’s put it this way: my iPod currently has 12,541 unique songs on its hard drive. I have at least, one song, by virtually every major act of the last 50 years in my ever expanding collection of (“illegal”) music that is clogging up space on my hard drive. I have two
You see, I’m old school. I operate on the guiding principle that any respectable teenage male must not only refuse to listen to music produced primarily for the enjoyment of teenage girls (and consequently, kitsch-loving gay men) but fiercely deny that I would ever be worth listening to lest my fledgling sexuality be subject to the mocking of my peers. (That it how it was and that it how always shall be.) I partially attribute this steadfast dogma to forcing myself to listen to rap-rock (I know. Fail.) in the late ‘90s as a way to counteract the goofy, chaste preppiness that I was being assaulted with when I watched TRL when I came home from a hard day of underachieving at high school. However, I was also a horny teenage boy during this period which meant I was very interested in Britney Spears from a deeper “philosophical” standpoint. Britney Spears was the hottest hottie since hot came to
Now, of course, I won’t pay to go see Britney Spears in concert. No way. I won’t even go to a Britney Spears concert by myself even it was free. But with a bunch of my idiot, drunken, drug-addled friends? And with the promise of beer and the glorious potential of a massive trainwreck? You can’t possible contain my enthusiasm for this. I live by a guiding set of rules in my life and if offered the chance to see a potential cataclysm in person, I do not pass up on the offer. Britney Spears. Concert. 2009.
Now because none of us gave a fuck about the opener, the thoroughly mediocre American Idol sycophant
Upon being removed from the Wakamba Lounge out of fear that we might be infected by government-created nano-robots or something (and copping myself a delicious piece of street meat at the cart in front of the arena. Cuz lord knows, I ain’t paying 20 bucks for a hot dog in the damn Garden.), we made our to the Garden to catch the beginning of the show. The first thing you should know if you are a straight male attending a Britney Spears concert is there will be a sea of young women in various states of revealing clothes and the only other creatures with a penis in the vicinity will be far more concerned with other penii than providing anything remotely passing as competition. The demographics skew like this. 90% female, 9% gay men, .9% straight dudes being dragged to the show by their girlfriends, .1% Me. I might have been the only single, straight male in the entire concert which depending on how you look at it is either creepy, extremely uncomfortable, an opportunity or hilarious. Personally, I thought it was all the above. Luckily, any creepiness and discomfort was alleviated by, the fact, that I was drunk so it evolved strictly into being an opportunistically hilarious.
We arrived at our seats just as the giant clock counting down on the huge circular video screen in the center of the arena reached one. This being the “Circus Tour” and all (I guess because her last album was called “Circus” or whatever. I didn’t listen to it.), the gigantic stage in the center of the arena is set up like a three-ring circus (obviously, dumb-asses) complete with a ringmaster, creepy Gacy-like clowns and surprisingly brolic contortionists. As the lights dimmed, a few acrobatic set-pieces (including a legless woman on a trampoline) primed the audiences for Spears entrance. Britney descended from the rafters on glittering swing in some sort of diamond corset. We were off.
The first thing you’ll notice at the show is that Britney is not the dancer she used to be. Britney never sung with anything remotely considered skill so dancing used to be what set her apart from the rest of her teeny bop clones. Instead of elaborately choreographed dance routines that she used to execute flawlessly when she was in her prime, Britney sort of vamps and struts around the stage while her backup dancers work their asses off to make her look good. It’s sort of the equivalent of watching a veteran NBA shooting guard who has lost his ability to blow by defenders and get to the rim. Britney is settling for jump shots and while she certainly understands how to work a crowd, she is not the performer she once was. I suppose it’s understandable considering she’s had two kids, snorted up a pharmacy worth of drugs, and had a complete mental collapse over the last couple. I suppose if I married
To make up for, the show pulls all stops on a visual overload of orgiastic, optic delights. There is literally not a portion of the stage that is flooded with dancers, clowns, and pyrotechnics to keep you visually in awe. Basically, there is enough flashing lights to leave a Japanese anime fan in a permanent epileptic coma. (Eat your fucking heart out, Pokemon.) To me, Britney’s music has always been irrelevant to the visuals she’s placing forth for the viewer. Britney’s primarily a visual artist working within a musical context. She’s always been selling some type of image rather than her actual music. She’s always known this and her handlers have always known this. Think about her music videos over the years, you can better remember her outfits than you can do the actual songs. The red catsuit from “Oops! I Did It, Again” and the futuristic stewardess outfit from “Toxic” are more memorable than the songs, themselves. It’s reason that she consciously chose to sex up her catholic schoolgirl look in the “…Baby, One More Time” video. You are supposed to remember the visual before you even begin to engage with the song. It’s how she sells her stuff and the “Circus Tour” is selling the visual in plenty. It’s mind effin’ blowing with all the stuff that is going on around you.
Britney does most of her hits over the course of the show and because they are so damn ubiquitous you sing-along. You just enjoy herself. Its all fantastically well executed. Its really an odd feeling to sing along to “Hit Me Baby” with 20,000 aging, twenty-something former teeny boppers but its undeniable. Britney, after all these years, is a damn professional and she knows her audience. You are in the presence of master of live performance and she will have you singing and dancing along even if you are a jaded hip hop head like myself.