8:22 p.m.: Ah, yes, the rap concert double-decker of safety: Walking through a metal detector and then getting a very handsy full-body pat-down. How is it that this actually makes you feel less safe than if there were no precautions at all? 8:29: Oh, man. We love when white girls who hang out with black girls try to fit in by reinforcing every stereotype about black girls that they've ever heard. It's the best. We especially enjoy how they feel the need to get her hair cut into that goofy bob hairstyle. 8:35: Smoot, an up-and-coming local rapper, is onstage now. The sound inside Arena notwithstanding, he's actually better than we were expecting, but we guess not better than other's were expecting; when Smoot shouts out "Y'all feeling that?" after performing one of his songs, a lady a couple of seats down from us shouts back, "NO!" Tee hee. 8:38: The crowd seems split on their feelings about Smoot, but he definitely has some marketable qualities. A couple of his songs feel very much like that Drake arena-rap that's become so popular these past two or so years. His onstage partner is a thin little fellow. Call us old fashioned, but we always take rappers that we feel can beat us up just a little more serious than thin ones. That's just how we were raised.
8:39: Nice. Smoot opens a song with a "This is for the ladies" claim and then proceeds to talk about a girl with a "pussy smooth as a baby bib." For the ladies, indeed. 8:47: The in-between-shows DJ is DJ Brandi Garcia from 97.9 The Box and Swishahouse. She hops back up there and says, "I don't know about y'all, but it's been kinda boring in here." She says this, no doubt, because she's about to try and get the crowd all amped by playing some Houston classics, but Smoot literally just walked off the stage two minutes ago. Probably could've timed that a bit better. 8:49: Uh-oh. While cutting through a mix of songs, Garcia let slip the first few seconds of Trae's "Grey Cassette." Wonder if she'll get fired too? 9:34: That Khia song "My Neck, My Back" is on. It's gross. Sorry. There's just something unsettling about a woman telling a man to lick her ass crack. 9:41: One of the things that's cool about Arena is that since the stage is in the middle of the room, it means the performing artist has to walk down an aisle past the fans to get to it. It doesn't make up for how crammed together the seats are, but it's still cool. 9:44: Monica's DJ is getting ready to bring her out onstage. This should be good. There really isn't a seat in Arena Theater with a bad view. 9:45:05: Amendment: There really isn't a seat in Arena Theater with a bad view. Until everyone stands the fuck up. Then you can't see a thing.
9:53: Monica started out with "Just One of Them Days" and "Angel of Mine." Now she's hitting some stuff from her latest album, Still Standing. She's fun. 9:55: Is it just us, or does it seem weird to have a hypeman at a Monica concert? It's like having a hypeman while you're making out with someone. 9:59: There's a camera in her spanning around showing shots of the crowd up on these big screens above the stage. It's a nice little aside that provides for some entertaining moments. Tonight though, the room is probably about one-third empty, so he's whipping the camera around furiously trying to find an angle that'll make it look like it's full. He's pretty good at it too. Maybe he used to be a video guy for the WNBA? 10:01: Monica's bodyguard is onstage with her. He's a big, burly, mean-looking fellow. We don't know, maybe we've just seen too many movies, but we prefer our bodyguards to look like Kevin Costner or Liam Neeson. 10:05: She certainly can sing, there's no question about that. 10:30: A Monica show is one where you have to have a knowledge of her discography to really enjoy yourself. One time we went to a party thrown for a well-to-do friend of our wife. A good majority of the guys of there were dentists, and they were all standing around talking about teeth and whatnot. They all seemed to really be enjoying themselves at the party. We know a little about teeth, so we weren't completely lost. But we certainly weren't at the same party they were. That's what this feels like.
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10:47: Given the smallness of the venue, we had intentions of hollering out something really specific when Ludacris came out in hopes that he'd notice the peculiarity of our shouting and look our way. We were going to say something like, "HEY, IT WAS COOL IN THAT "GET BACK" VIDEO HOW YOU HAD REALLY BIG ARMS!" or "YO! YOU WERE PRETTY GOOD IN TRAFFIC BUT NOT THAT GOOD IN 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS!" But we get so geeked when Ludacris comes rumbling down the aisle that we just go, "YYYYEEEAAAAHHHHH! LUDA!" Such is life. 11:10: Nice. He's doing "Yeah" right now. Still a great song. If you can listen to it and somehow not want to do the A-Town Stomp, you have a heart of coal. 11:12: "Is this motherfucking stage moving or is it just me?" Haha. We suspect Luda is a tad tipsy right now. 11:14: Suspicion confirmed. "Everybody in here drunk as fuck with me make some noise!" Question: How much is a "fuck"? We've heard "fuck" used as a measurement before ("I'm hungry as fuck"; "He was ugly as fuck"), but have never actually known what the quantitative score was. Can someone please clear this up for us? Thanks. 11:22: He's doing his verse from T-Pain's "Screwed and Chopped" song that fans of Houston rap hate because it's so utterly blasphemous. DJ Screw is probably turning over in his grave right now. And he's probably turning over very, very slowly, then rolling back, then spinning again, the going back, then spinning, then going back. (See what we're doing? His grave-turning is screwed and chopped. It works better if you picture it.)
11:25: He just hat-tipped BET's now defunct late-night music-video show Uncut and then dialed up "Pussy Poppin'." Have you ever actually seen someone pussy poppin' in a handstand? It's far from attractive. 11:40: Nice little solo from the DJ. He does that move where he moves the knobs in between the two turntables with his face. We've seen people do that way too much for us to be impressed by it anymore. If he moves them with his penis, that'd be impressive. 11:45: You know what this concert needs more of? Bun B. Sad face, sad face, sad face. 11:52: Luda called on more than a decade's worth of singles tonight, hitting everything from "What's Your Fantasy" to "How Low Can You Go." It was a proper energetic show that would've benefited greatly from a packed house*. *This has to be an indictment of his level of fame, right? Houston has been showing up in droves to rap concerts from other big-name acts. We had no idea Luda's star, in Houston at least, had lost so much of its luster. Or is it the emptiness due in large part to the venue it was held in? We can't be certain. Either way, not a bad showing. Not a great one, but not a bad one either.