Shaggy @ The TLA
Text and images by Darragh Dandurand, JUMP Philly.
Walking into the Theater of the Living Arts and out of the chill of Wednesday night felt like floating into a hot and heavy breath of air. The darkened belly of the TLA glittered with a neon glow and the hum of reggae bouncing off the walls.
DJ Champe spun vinyls at the edge of the stage, his furrowed brow and perpetual frown accented by the dramatic lighting. He carefully picked records out of his collection, stared at them carefully and inevitably put most of his choices back.
The crowd slowly pushed towards the front the venue, lazily dancing while most scoped out the best spots for Shaggy‘s set. By the time self-proclaimed Mr. Lover strutted across the stage, eight other musicians were waiting for him, jamming on bass lines and rhythmic loops. Playing Philadelphia was one of seventeen shows the Jamaican rapper booked to promote his new album, Out of Many, One Music.
The almost two-hour performance was a non-stop party with a generous mix of 90s hits and recent releases. The TLA was steeped with nostalgia and smuggled-in blunts. In between chart-topping hits like, “Boombastic“, “Luv Me Luv Me” and “Angel,” Shaggy tried to seduce the audience, made fun of himself and threw a few cheesy ‘dad jokes’ out there, just for kicks. He stuck his mic in his pants, playfully flirted with girls near the stage and brought on a few musical guests to keep him company, including Philly’s own Matthew Schuler, a contestant on Season Five of The Voice.
“Red Red Wine” had everyone screaming the lyrics, most of which Shaggy didn’t have to sing because the audience did it for him. He covered “We Are the Champions” and “In the Summertime” with reggae flair. After a long show, a sweat-drenched Shaggy was called back on stage by a mass of fans who wouldn’t budge. Taking the opportunity, he introduced a few new titles, such as “Go Fuk Urself,” before saying goodnight.
Shaggy proved his showmanship more than a few times over as a seemingly down-to-Earth entertainer of hip-hop heydays. His humor and his personable performance won him some brotherly love, even if we all came just to hear “It Wasn’t Me.”