Twerkless Jingle Ball serves up mixed bag

A review of the KISS 108 Jingle Ball at the TD Garden on December 14, 2013

, Contributing Writer

‘Twas the night of the KISS 108 Jingle Ball, and all through the TD Garden, not a person was twerking, not even a Miley. Yes, as a storm brewed around the arena, the wind and snow kept Miley Cyrus’ plane grounded in New Jersey, an unfortunate turn of events the organizers decided not to mention until after the last performer had left the stage. But this is not the story of what wasn’t, but what was: a sub-par night of music which had rock-pop showing up bubblegum, but just barely.

The night began with Fifth Harmony. An “X-Factor USA” runner-up project, the group gave a lackluster performance of their single “Miss Movin’ On” that was missing memorable vocals, real choreography, and overall energy.

Since the radio event was already running behind, the end of the first set led immediately into the beginning of the next by Robin Thicke. Performing a mere two songs, his time on stage had a more polished feel than Fifth Harmony’s, with the caveat that Thicke struggled to hit the high notes on his number one single “Blurred Lines”.

Fall Out Boy was next on deck, and gave one of the highlight performances of the night. In an extremely fast-paced six-song set, the reunited rockers played a mix of new and old including their 2005 breakthrough “Sugar We’re Going Down” and their current hit “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” complete with pyrotechnics for the line “I’m on fire”. The crowd was surprisingly pleased by the mini rock-infusion, and bassist Pete Wentz worked the crowd well, stating in a short speech “Being different isn’t something that needs to be fixed.”

From FOB to Flo, the night took a turn from rock to rap as Flo Rida took the stage. The large personality is a performer first and an artist second. Playing seven of his biggest hits from the newer “How I Feel” to the early “Low”, a backing vocalist assisted the rapper on the verses while strong female voices handled the bigger hooks and choruses. During his time in the spotlight, he threw toys into the crowd with a crew member dresseed in a Santa suit, rode on another man’s shoulders, ripped off his shirt, held a baby, and invited a gaggle of girls to join him on stage.

Continuing further down into the Jingle Ball rabbit hole, Selena Gomez took the stage. A shell of the artist she was in that same arena just two months prior, little was impressive about her suprisingly dissapointing set. A wind machine and rampant lip-synching dampened the first two songs of the set, “Slow Down” and “Love You Like a Love Song”. Things began looking up during the (relatively) older “Naturally,” but Gomez was never able to reach the level of performance she had at her solo show.

Experiencing the opposite effect, Paramore seemed to have improved since their tour date at the House of Blues earlier this year. While they didn’t live up to former labelmates Fall Out Boy, lead singer Hayley Williams had far more command over her performance than she did back in May. The energetic frontman worked the crowd from the moment she hit the stage, even inviting a young fan on stage to sing set opener “Misery Business” with her. Playing two numbers off of their latest self-titled album, “Still Into You” and “Ain’t It Fun”, Williams and declared “Guess what? You’re at a rock ‘n’ roll show now!” Well, that was debatable, but the lively set was entertaining nonetheless.

Enrique Iglesias ended up closing out the night by default, playing only four songs with a hat pulled down over his face. Iglesias was well-rehearsed, stable, and unsurprising – which was all well and good, it just didn’t make for an exciting headliner. In addition to the “ei” balloons the organizers had planned to drop during his set, the singer that both “likes how it feels” and “likes it” also benefitted from a mass of confetti blasted from cannons clearly meant for Ms. Cyrus.

After Iglesias quickly ducked off the stage, the organizers came on the loudspeakers to announce Cyrus was not in fact “in the house” and as the lights came up, teens and their younger neighbors began to throw fits. And so the night ended, never having felt like it had quite begun, with a few highs and lows along the way but nothing to write home about. Oh well, there’s always next year!

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  1. Pingback: Twerkless Jingle Ball serves up mixed bag | BLUE BLOG!

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