Last Saturday, Nov 11th, the “90’s Block Party” concert series invaded Louisville’s KFC YUM Center. The tour featured the legendary R&B acts: Dru Hill, Next, Jagged Edge, Monica & Guy ft. Teddy Riley.
The event was nostalgic for many fans who have fond memories attached to the timeless hits from these remarkable artists. Surprisingly, a large amount of younger fans also attended the concert. Many weren’t born when these groups were in their prime but apparently their timeless music has transcended generations.
The nearly sold out crowd remained on their feet, dancing and singing along with the artists, for practically the entire 4 hours of the show.
The concert was brought to Louisville via G Squared Events who flawlessly executed the evening like a well oiled machine. An unexpected pleasant surprise was that the concert was scheduled to start at 8:00pm and the first act took the stage at 8:15pm. Typically concerts begin around an hour later than the scheduled start time, so this was refreshing.
Continuing the theme of professionalism – the show moved along seamlessly throughout the evening, as each act performed 4-5 songs each. Making the experience even sweeter – the intermissions between acts were very short and hosted by hilarious comedian Gary “G-Thang” Johnson of the new Bounce TV sitcom “Grown Folks”. He kept the crowd in tears every time he touched the stage.
Dru Hill opened the show with a powerful performance. In true Sisqo fashion, his eclectic dance moves proved that he is more than just a musician – he is a performer.
However, the crowd couldn’t help but to notice the absence of Larry “Jazz” Anthony, who many consider to be the strongest vocalist of the group.
Never one to disappoint, “Jazz” made his grand entrance onto the stage for the group’s third song and the crowd went absolutely crazy. He would finish the next few songs with his band-mates and end the group’s set by bringing a chair to the edge of the stage and belting out a solo performance for the fans. This up-close and personal experience brought screams from the crowd.
The second group of the night to hit the stage was “Next”. The group broke up in the early 2000’s but fans across the globe have been highly anticipating a tour from this trio after they announced, on a recent episode of TV One’s Unsung, that they were back together.
It’s been over a decade since they last performed in Louisville and the fans let them know just how much they missed them. The house DJ would randomly turn the music off, mid-song – and the YUM Center crowd of nearly 17,000 people sounded like a gospel choir, singing every lyric in unison.
The R&B sensations took fans on a stroll down memory lane with the songs “Wifey” & “Too Close”. Halfway through their set, Raphael “Tweet” Brown removed his shirt, revealing his chiseled body – and invited a female fan onstage for a sexy grind-filled serenade.
Next up in the lineup was super R&B group “Jagged Edge”. For over 20 years, JE has proven to be a Louisville favorite. The group has performed in he Derby City numerous times throughout their career and judging by all the sellout shows – Louisville fans can’t seem to get enough of them.
JE Classics like, “Where’s The Party At” & “Let’s Get Married” had the YUM Center rocking like an actual “Block Party” from the 90s. Fans mouthed every lyric of their songs as if they were members of the group themselves.
After the Jagged Edge set, a brief 10 minute intermission took place, and this was the moment that comedian Gary “G-Thang” Johnson established a fanbase in Louisville. The hilarious host made the audience feel like they were at the filming of a Stand-Up HBO comedy special, instead of an R&B concert.
Johnson’s comedic style makes him feel so relatable that he is able to effortlessly engage with the audience while he tells jokes. Often times throughout the evening he even joked on people in the audience but his outgoing personality had the crowd seemingly begging for more. At one point he even walked deep into the crowd and started a “G-Thang” version of a talent & fashion show.
Once he reached the middle of the floor area of the arena, he handed his microphone to random audience members and dared them to sing acapella. Surprisingly, there were some amazing voices in the crowd but when one audience member hit the wrong notes – the comedian turned into a comedic version of Simon Cowell and a roasting session took place.
Johnson then began pointing out people in the crowd who were wearing flamboyant attire. He had them stand up and walk down the aisle as if they were fashion models on a runway. As they walked, Johnson would hilarious critique their outfits. It was all in the fun and the crowd loved every single moment of it.
The fourth artist to take the stage was R&B icon “Monica”. She looked totally amazing in her thigh-high white boots, red shorts and grey tweed crop jacket. For many Louisville fans, it was their first time getting a glimpse of the singer’s new blonde, bob-cut hair style.
Always one to “Keep It Real”, Monica engaged in personal conversations with her fans about love, heartbreak, loyalty and betrayal.
The conversations correlated perfectly with her music choices for the night, which included: “Why I Love You So Much”, “Before You Walk Out Of My Life”, “Don’t Take It Personal” & “So Gone”.
Monica has always publicly embraced her lifestyle as a dedicated family person, so it wasn’t a surprise that her 4 year-old daughter, Laiyah Shannon Brown, was in-tow with her at the performance.
It was great witnessing this family enjoying precious moments together. It must be extremely difficult to balance being a mother with the demanding schedule of a R&B singer but Monica shows that family comes first in her life.
Monica has a close-knit group of family and friends that travel with her. After her set, she hung out backstage conversing with them for over an hour. Her Southern Hospitality shined as she allowed photographers, media and event personnel to take pictures with her. This Atlanta is an extremely down to Earth person and her warm energy is felt when you are in her presence.
The headliner of the show was the R&B group “Guy”, who have been together for 30 years. Aaron Hall, Teddy Riley and Damian Hall wrapped the night up with the classic hits “Groove Me”, Teddy’s Jam”, Goodbye Love” and others.
Fans were pleasantly surprised to see estranged group member Teddy Riley back with in the line-up, as he and lead singer Aaron Hall have had their share of differences over the years. Guy performed in Louisville at the Kinfolks Soul Food Festival back in 2013, and Riley was noticeably absent.
Whether this is a permanent reunion or one-time event – Guy appears to have recaptured the same chemistry and passion that they had back in the 80s & 90s. They put on a fantastic energy filled performance, full of dancing, life instrumentation and great vocals.