Those who doubted that the Just Press Play II concert would be a success without Ludacris were proven wrong on Saturday night. Fans of hip-hop and rock, along with those who just wanted to have a good time, gathered at Carnesecca Arena to see performances by the show’s new headliner, Ciara, along with bands such as Boys Like Girls and Hellogoodbye. While the turnout probably would have been better if Ludacriswas headlining, the show still brought in a decent audience and gave the showa more intimate feeling.
Taking the stage around 8:30 to the shrill screams of her many female fans, Ciara opened up the show with a medley of some of her hits. The stage was simple; nothing like it would be at a larger venue, with just a black curtain and a platform. However, it was hard to tell that Ciara was not playing at Madison Square Garden with the way she worked the audience. With her larger- than-life stage persona, the “First Lady of Crunk & B,” had the audience members both on the floor and in the stands dancing.
The small turnout proved to have its perks, as Ciara left the stage a couple of times to go directly to those standing at the barricade (something she told the audience she does not do often). She was constantly on the move the entire time she was onstage, whether she was wiggling her hips or reaching out to the audience as though she was singing especially for them. Ciara was not the only one who made her set entertaining; her talented dancers also proved to be a big hit with the audience. But Ciara seemed to be ata loss as to where her male fans were, since every time she asked them to scream, only a thin sound of hooting could be heard. She made the best of the show though, directly involving the audience on multiple occasions and dancing as though this was the lastshow she would be performing. An hour and a half later, Ciara closed her showwith her hit song, “Get Up.”
“I wish this night could last forever,” the singer exclaimed while onstage.
Deep followed Ciara, which was somewhat of a disappointment. Most of the audience had just shown up to see Ciara perform, and the already small crowd thinned even more during Deep’s performance, as the set was being changed behind them.
Boston natives Boys Like Girls were next to take the stage. While this band is not as well-known as Ciara or their current tour mates Hellogoodbye, they proved to have quite the fan base at St. John’s, as well as proving that they can play a show in true rock n’ rollform. There was swearing, crowd surfing and water being sprayed at the audience,with screams of appreciation from the fans.
“For a small crowd, they really, really brought it,” said lead singer and guitaristMartin Johnson in an interview backstage. “A lot of the time, when you have a smaller crowd, you see that people are worried about what other people are thinking about them, but I think we got it pumped up enough for them to give it back to us, so that was cool.”The band was also the most fan-friendly, staying late after the show to sign autographs to anybody who wanted one.
“We love to create a one-on-one relationship with the fans,” Johnson continued. “We make sure that we are outside after the show talking to people and signing for as long as it takes. I think it’s a really important part of who we are as a band.”
Closing out the show was Hellogoodbye, tired from a show they had played earlier in the day. Their set was shorter than expected, ending after only forty-five minutes, but those that stuck around to see the band still got the chance to hear their favorite songs along with the band cracking jokes every chance they got.
“Ciara left, so I don’t know why you guys are still here,” said lead singer and guitarist Forrest Kline.
While it was a good idea to have music from different genres to appeal to a wide audience, the concert was a bit too long. By the time Hellogoodbye took the stage, the audience was smaller than ever, although very energetic. Those that chose to attend Just Press Play II got their money’s worth; as tired as all of the performers seemed fromtheir hectic tour schedules, they were eager to win over new fans in the St. John’s community. As some may have expected would happen, the concert was not a bomb. Rather, it went out with a bang.