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Soul Train “Fusion” concert little more than a typical club night

Though it was billed as the Soul Train “Fusion” Pre- Awards Show Concert, Tuesday’s event wasn’t so much a live music event as a shoddily produced club night.

Initially slated to take place at the 4,600-capacity Atlanta Civic Center, the show was yanked out of there at the 11th hour in favor of the infinitely smaller Opera in Midtown, which holds just over 1,000 when stuffed to the rafters.

That wasn’t a problem. The venue started out full – though chunks of the crowd were members of the performers’ entourages – but by 10:30  p.m., attendance dwindled significantly.

Can you blame anyone for finally bolting in frustration?

Despite an 8 p.m. ticket – and numerous promises by those attached to the show that it would start on time to accommodate all of the acts supposedly on the bill – it was shortly after 9 p.m. when hometown favorites Arrested Development hit the stage for a spirited version of “Tennessee.”

And then, they were gone.

Ray Lavender

Ray Lavender

After an endless 45 minutes, during which the crowd was entertained by standard club thumpers blaring out of Opera’s impeccable sound system, R&B singer Keke Wyatt, apparently  christened as the show’s hostess, appeared to introduce Atlanta’s Ray Lavender.

Showing off his biceps and killer smile, Lavender, a skilled rapper with a knack for melody, joyfully bounced around the stage and wagged his tongue lasciviously at the ladies. But even the infectious “Woozy” and Lavender’s requisite (and so, so boring) command to “make some noise,” was greeted tepidly by an audience expecting advertised headliners Erykah Badu and Rick Ross.

So with Lavender’s 10-minute set finished, what was a crowd to do?

Ah, listen to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” filter through the club’s speakers, of course. And truthfully, hearing a song that at least tiptoes into the same stratosphere as anything from the “Soul Train” era was the highlight of the night.

Nearly half an hour after Lavender’s brief set came reggae star Mr. Vegas, who asked those who “listen to real reggae music” to identify themselves. That was his intro to a snippet of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier,” which segued into Mr. V’s “I Am Blessed,” sung to an electronic drum beat.

After shouting, “Love you all. Peace out,” Vegas was on his way, another grueling six-minute set completed.

By this point, it was becoming increasingly clear that an appearance by Badu or Ross was about as likely as the Dallas Cowboys turning their season around. That thought was confirmed when Wyatt returned to the stage near 11 p.m. – another 25 minutes after Vegas split – to inform the thinned-out audience that Doug E. Fresh and Trina were “in the house.” Not preparing to perform, mind you, only sharing the air.

With nothing of substance to tell people – and really, why should she be saddled with placating an assembly? – Wyatt suggested they return to the bar, get another drink and dance.

Because nothing says “Soul Train” like a disjointed, unorganized, glorified dance party on a Tuesday night.

The Soul Train Awards tape tonight at the Cobb Energy Center and will air on BET and Centric Nov. 28.

7 comments Add your comment

Ms. Smith

November 10th, 2010
3:53 am

Melissa, I was THERE and I echo your comments!! I have been working professionally in the entertainment industry for nearly 20 years and the entire night was, in one word, irresponsible!

I was one of the “lucky” few people who had comp tickets for the event. As me and my guest were walking in, we were told that anyone holding a ticket with a “price” on it would be asked to pay MORE to enter the venue! They were only letting people in with tickets without a dollar amount on them….what? OK, we’re good then.

After we hesitantly waited in line for the “red carpet reception” to be completed, we were patted down, searched and finally allowed in at 8:15 pm, we saw that there was absolutely NO seating (except for the VIP booths). Ok, I was prepared for that…HOWEVER, after waiting another HOUR for the first highly anticipated performers to hit the stage, then praying it was just a “warm-up”, I was thankful I hadn’t shelled out more than $0 per ticket. The couple next to me learned AFTER they got there that not only did they pay $140 for general admission tickets, but they would also be standing just like the rest of us.

The night should have just turned into a good old fashioned industry networking event because there were more media, photogs, entourages and “pseudo celebrities” in the room than paid concert goers. PWP obviously couldn’t afford to pay Badu, Ross, Chrisette or even Waka Flocka after moving the event to Opera (which is beautiful, by the way) but they continued using their names on the billing….just WRONG!

I truly feel sorry for those who bought tickets and learned about the switch THE DAY OF the event. Penny in the Well Productions needs to change their name to Penny, WTH!

the smartestone

November 10th, 2010
4:13 pm

HAHAHAHAHA! That is hilarious Mellissa!

Over it

November 10th, 2010
9:00 pm

I too got comp tickets but I was more mad that I drove several hours only to see 3 acts.. It was pure mass chaos outside as even some celebs looked confused as to why they weren’t on the “list”.. I too feel sorry for those that paid for a ticket..I’d be even more mad if I had..

Over It Squared.(Someone different who echoes the same sentiment)

November 10th, 2010
10:53 pm

Honestly, Penny in the Well should go back to the university they went to and study how to plan and organize and back to the nightclub/group they started in and RELEARN how to throw events again. I knew something wasn’t right once they moved the venue. I called Opera everyday for days only to be told to go to just come and get tickets here. I won’t fault the brand for this mistake because it’s a learning experience.I bet my house that next year PWP will NOT be involved. I hope not, at least. They put the brand in some serious jeopardy with their “lemme see if my homeboy can get so-and-so to come” shenannigins.
NO EXCUSE for a night like that. I can see it now, smaller venue=charge more money=maybe we can pay the artist with the door money if we charge sky high prices. We aren’t stupid. I have had experience in the industry as well and I know that Dummy Plan rarely works, especially on events such as these.
Cory B. on stage talking about “Free Party Passes” that unorganized mess is EXACTLY why I won’t be coming to DAY IV (Thursdays) at Opera.I Also didnt like how everyone distanced themselves from the event even though Soul Train took responsibility for enlisting the help of amateurs, Opera distanced themselves completely as if they didn’t have half-ass info for the concert and then charging money like it’s Friday.
THEN I didn’t get the apology and then the closing of “This has been a Penny in the Well Production”. So you are going to RESTATE your company’s name after yall screwed up this event? Thank you for repeating it because I garuntee that I will never come to an event with this company’s name even remotely associated with it!

Raggedy

November 12th, 2010
10:38 am

I had comp tickets but did not go because I took the disorganized mess that led up to the concert as a warning that it would be raggedy. Love Erykah Badu and would have just been totally irritated to go and not see her. I’ve been in the event game for a while in ATL and this was just a shame. I hope that the production company behind it took some notes, fired some people and will either start another business or change their name.

SoSad

November 12th, 2010
10:50 am

I just saw Erykah Badu’s Tweet about the show…
“sorry ATL. i love u. but, no dough = no show. all was quite weird. I was disappointed. needed to sing . its my therapy.”

Kristen

November 12th, 2010
5:16 pm

Melissa,

I was THERE also, and oh so dissappointed. The red carpet was awesome and completely organized. I really think Trea Day did a great job at that but after about 8:30 everyone seemed to be getting a little anxious. The best part of the night was Arrested Development and Ray Lavendar, after they performed I just left.