Just before heading out to House of Blues on Friday, we sent the same text message to nine random friends: "Hey, I'm playing trivia and could really use some help. Quick, name a Flo Rida song," to which 8 out of 9 thumbed back the same three-letter response: "Low."
For those of you who don't keep up with hip-pop hits, "Low" is Flo Rida's biggest hit, a monster jam that perched atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 10 weeks and moved over five million digital units at the height of the 2008 recession. Our friends have clearly encountered the infectious hit that is "Low," powered by T-Pain's famous lines (sans auto-tune, mind you): "Shawty with dem Apple Bottom jeans, boots with the furrrrr..." Some of them would later confess that they've never heard an entire Flo Rida album.
Flo Rida's career is practically underlined by that one hit that even non-music people could recite off the top. Well, imagine our chagrin when post-show research uncovered hardcore evidence that this Flo Rida character -- lanky, bald, and clean-shaven with a smile that says he should be behind a bank counter asking, "Would you be interested in a cash back credit card?" -- is a legitimate hit machine with 1,2,3,4,5, SIX Top 10 singles under his belt, and is really into instructional song titles ("Turn Around," "Jump," "Come with Me").
Another thing we learned on Friday: Flo Rida is a family-friendly rapper with fans that range from high school kids and college undergrads to soccer moms and a 10-year-old boy whom we randomly high-fived during the show, all gathered at House of Blues on a frigid evening for some family fun, dancing and fist-pumping. The stage was warmed up by Taio Cruz's throbbing electro set, so that when Flo Rida showed up at 11:03, the crowd was drunk and wet with perspiration. Flo Rida will be half naked in an hour, but for now he's in a white tee three sizes too small, red bubble vest, blue jeans, red-and-white Jordans that look fresh out the box, and a red baseball hat to match.
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He banged out hit after hit and ladies hollered and touched the roof and spilled drinks on our Reeboks. The crowd went pistachios when he hit his stride right around "Right Around." They screamed when he made hand hearts and said "I love you, Houston," and when he stopped the show and removed an article of clothing like he was playing an imaginary game of strip poker in which he loses every round to the crowd, and when he gave away personal items: Autographed towels, hat, t-shirt, necklace, the fresh Jordans, his hype man's hat (when he finally ran out of personal items and was down to just pants).
At one point, he pulled out a dozen red roses and passed them out to random girls. The girl next to us leaped up to Jupiter and screamed loud enough to wake God but somehow came up empty. So she got all verklempt and put her right hand on her chest, causing the girl next to her to take pity and offer up her own rose which had been decapitated midair and was only a sad-looking stem. The rose-less girl declined. Luckily for her, she was later invited on stage along with 21 other girls to bump and grind with Flo Rida during "Low." Justice prevailed.
"Low" was a highlight of the set, rivaled only by the fitting coda to a fun night: "Good Feeling." Flo Rida kicked off the Etta James-sampling hit with a tribute to the terminally ill icon. "Make some noise for Etta James," he instructed. Rida then joined the crowd for his final performance, with a bodyguard carting him around the room in a circle and his hype man cupping his butt to keep him from falling backwards.
"Man, I love this song," Rida confessed after two renditions of "Good Feeling." He then proceeded to perform the song four more times (a la Jay-Z and Kanye West), stopping it right before the first verse each time to declare: "Run that shit back." Half the room saw this as an excuse to try and beat the weekend traffic.
Personal Bias: We're not one of those spleen-splitting Flo Rida haters, but we don't have FLO RIDA tattooed across our forehead, either.
The Crowd: College kids with high energy and low alcohol tolerance
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Overheard in the Crowd: "Are you gonna put us in your review?"
Random Notebook Dump: Our theory on Flo Rida's name: he was googling his home state and accidentally put a space between "Flo" and "Rida."
"In the Ayer" "Who Dat Girl" "Where Dem Girls At" "Sugar" "Mind on My Money" "Low" "Turn Around [5,4,3,2,1]" "Ms. Hangover" "Touch Me" "Jump" "Right Round" "Good Feeling"