Miley Cyrus, Icona Pop Toyota Center March 16, 2014
Two dozen plus balloons are bouncing above the audience. A group of furries dance onstage. On the screen behind them is a giant digital photo of Miley Cyrus. Then a hole opens in the screen and a giant pink tongue comes out of it. Actual, human-sized Miley climbs onto the tongue and slides down it to the stage.
To answer the question that popped in to your brain when you decided to read this review, yes, the Bangerz Tour is exactly what you'd expect it to be.
As it should be. Miley represents a very specific version of the American experience, real or imagined, in the year 2014. In a sense, she's Buzzfeed made flesh, a human .gif, a walking meme generator. To give the crowd anything less than that would be wrong.
Get a look at more Miley insanity in our slideshow, "These are the People You Meet at a Miley Cyrus Concert."
With that in mind, there's only one way to review this show properly:
21 Observations on Seeing 21-Year-Old Miley Cyrus' Bangerz Tour
1. Balloons were hanging up all over the arena before the show started. It was a looners dream come true.
2. The crowd was hyped for the show, but nice enough to wait until after Icona Pop had finished their opening set to start chanting "Miley! Miley!"
3. Pre-show music was a mix of "Bandz-a Make Her Dance" and songs that sound exactly like it. Not sure how to feel about 14-year-olds dancing to it, but their parents didn't seem to have a problem with it.
4. Say what you want about Miley, the music, or the content of the show, but from a technical perspective it's pretty masterful. The lighting design in particular was very well-done.
5. If you took the under, which was set at 9.5, on "How many words Miley speaks/sings before cursing," collect your winnings at the pay window.
6. With her initial outfit, she seemed to be going for "Sexy Picnic Table." Also, it seems like most of her outfits include a backpack or purse of some sort. What is she so worried about losing onstage?
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7. Maybe she's worried about losing her pack of Bangerz Tour rolling papers. Those were on sale at the merchandise table. When your tour isn't covered in corporate logos, you have to make money somewhere; smoking accessories it is.
8. A mascot version of Big Sean shows up during "Love Money Party." That's a thing that exists.
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9. During one of the songs, a graphic of a giant Styrofoam cup spills a purple liquid on the table. Is there a chopped and screwed version of Bangerz out?
10. It's kind of weird to think about how pulling out a dildo onstage used to be super-controversial, but today we have a mainstream pop star with an arena show that has a graphic of a butt plug in the middle.
11. Some people at the front of the crowd were super excited to have Miley shoot water on them from her mouth. People aren't normally that excited to get spit on.
12. Artists often try and get the crowd to make noise using the old "You want to be louder than [rival city], right?" trick. Tonight was the first time I heard someone challenge the audience to be sluttier than a rival city. San Antonio, Houston is coming for you.
13. She does what I assume is a pretty good version of "Adore You" but to be honest, I'm preoccupied watching the kiss cam they're showing in the background. That's seeing Miley in a nutshell: even when proving she has talent, she's undercutting herself with spectacle.
14. There's a video interlude where Miley is bound in electrical tape and covered in blood. Not sure if it's a legit art piece or just a really clever parody of those videos that run during a Lady Gaga concert.
15. A Bob Dylan name-drop gets a robust reaction from the crowd before she sings a not particularly impressive version of "It Ain't Me Babe."
16. We also get two Dolly Parton songs tonight. Did you know Dolly is Miley's godmother?
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17. Usually she does a cover of "Hey Ya," but Sunday night she did a version of Coldplay's "The Scientist" because we live on the worst version of the infinite Earths.
18. She ended the main set riding a hot dog and bun like a horse above the crowd and out through the screen, which was mocked up to be a giant pair of doors covered in clouds. It's a lot like the end of The Truman Show, just with a giant hot dog and bun.
19. The crowd is impressed with the twerking they're seeing onstage. I would love to take all of them to a Big Freedia show and have their minds blown.
20. Adorable cat graphic? Miley humping an inflatable banana? Dancers dressed up like giant foam hands? "We Can't Stop" has arrived, and we're hitting peak Miley right now.
21. You know what would have been real rebellious? Not playing "Party in the USA." It was a dumb song when it was released, and it's even dumber now that she's crotch-slapping twerk queen Miley Cyrus.
Also, there's a little person onstage dressed as the Liberty Bell. I'm done; there is nothing left to say.
Personal Bias: My favorite Miley song is "See You Again," so I was always going to be slightly disappointed with the show.
The Crowd: Mostly female, mostly younger, mostly loud.
Overheard In the Crowd: The sound of white noise to represent adoration.
Random Notebook Dump: For all the talk of twerking, there's enough banjo that this show wouldn't be completely out of place at the rodeo.
So, How Was the Opener? This is the first time that I've seen Icona Pop play a pure pop set. They had a DJ/guitar player, which was weird because I've seen them do their show twice now on their own. They did a bunch of abbreviated versions of their songs to try and hit as many as possible in 30 minutes, which was fine but I would have liked more of "Girlfriend." They played about 45 seconds of a trap version of "I Love It" and it was dope. Good to finally see them in an arena, but I couldn't help but feel they deserved better.
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