Summerbeatz @ Acer Arena, Sydney (20/11/10)

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Summerbeatz 2010 definitely brought a large crowd out to Acer Arena Saturday night, most of whom were probably excited to see headliner Akon perform. The arena was full, and I was hoping for an entertaining show, even though the show’s lineup lost Soulja Boy and Jay Sean along the way. Apparently Soulja Boy had been replaced by Ja Rule, whose addition to the lineup was more than confusing, seeing that he hasn’t put out a decent single or album in years. Thankfully we arrived after his performance. Despite their absences, the remaining acts delivered exciting performances.

Ciara’s performance was one of the highlights of the night, showcasing the dance moves that helped bring her to fame in the R&B/Pop genre. Starting off with her debut single Goodies, she helped liven the crowd, most of whom looked bored. Accompanied by three background dancers, it was clear that Ciara’s performance would focus first on her dancing skills rather than her singing abilities. Ciara went on to perform her version of Soulja Boy’s Pretty Boy Swag, followed by her hit single Like a Boy. Taking time to promote her upcoming album, she performed her latest single, Ride, as well as a new song from her album. Her song delivery was pretty impressive; she managed to sing every line and hit every note live without being breathless. She finished off her performance with 1, 2 Step as well as a Michael Jackson medley that the crowd enjoyed. Overall, she was entertaining to watch.

DJ Nino Brown took over the stage in between sets, starting off by playing Down by the very absent Jay Sean. Knowing that Jay Sean had withdrawn from the lineup just a week before the show, I figured the obvious choice would have been to stay away from songs that would remind his fans of his absence. Disappointingly, DJ Nino Brown wasn’t memorable. He played a mix of songs over which he proceeded to constantly announce the whereabouts of the Summerbeatz after-party, hosted by Ja Rule’s official DJ.

When Flo Rida finally made it to the stage, the energy in the arena heightened. Performing hits like Right Round, Club Can’t Handle Me and How High, Flo Rida’s performance was full of popular dance hits. As if the songs alone weren’t enough to get the crowd moving, he brought out his R&B group Git Fresh to perform – and water guns to soak the audience. Throwing his shirt into the crowd, Flo Rida then went to the back of the arena to stand with fans in the lower level. By this point, Summerbeatz was feeling more like a big party.

Headliner Akon came out singing I’m So Paid, one of the many songs from his catalog. His performance included Soul Survivor, Sorry (Put the Blame on Me), Smack That, and I Wanna Love You. One of the highlights of his performance was his delivery of his debut single, Locked Up. The song was very well received, and even if members of the audience didn’t know who he was, everyone knew the single that made him famous. Playing the congas while singing Don’t Matter, Akon brought Carnival to Australia for a brief set, setting the stage on fire – literally.

It became clear that this was the part of the show the audience had been waiting for.

Akon disappeared to switch outfits and returned encased in a bubble; he then ‘rolled’ over the floor section of the audience. Once he returned to the stage, he made an announcement: “the part of the show you all paid for is over; this is the part when we tear the fucking roof off!” Almost instantaneously, he began performing his club hits, namely Sexy Bitch. Crowd surfing became his goal for the rest of the night, and he spent a good 15 minutes trying to get all the way to the back of the arena at the very end of his set. Even though it added to the excitement of the audience, Akon spent such a long time trying to get to the back that he could have performed at least three more songs.

Overall, Summerbeatz 2010 was exciting, though the lineup could have used a little more thought to create a more cohesive show. Besides being more cohesive, the lineup could have been more concrete. Though it’s understandable that situations arise and acts may have to pull out last minute, the replacement act could have had more universal appeal.

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