I recently relocated back to Phoenix where I attended high school before heading to Morehouse College in Atlanta. Aside from the typical "home for the holiday visits," it's been a while since I've spent significant time in the Valley of the Sun, and let me tell you, it's been a joy rediscovering the city that saw me grow from a little boy to a young man. It was a tough decision leaving a place like Atlanta, however, one of the opportunities I saw for myself in my new residence would be the chance to attend many more shows than my schedule allowed previously. As fate would have it, my first concert in Arizona happened to feature one of my favorite R&B groups growing up – Dru Hill.
The show was held at the Celebrity Theatre, an intimate venue with a circular stage and seating arrangements that gave everyone an unobstructed view of the performers. There truly isn't a bad seat in the house. And there could not have been a better setting to host the 90s Memorial Day Weekend Jam.
When I arrived, Sunshine Anderson had already taken the stage and was building towards her hit song "Heard it all before." After her set, the show's host Poka Fase warmed the stage for the remaining performers by engaging the crowd with his witty banter and an impromptu Nipsey Hussle tribute.
Next, J. Holiday graced the stage with his smooth yet edgy swagger. If you're only familiar with the DC-based singer's hits "Bed" and "Suffocate," take some time to listen to songs like "Betcha Never Had" or "Ghetto" and you quickly find that despite his silky voice, Holiday actually tackles issues that resonate with most inner-city residents. Combine that with his talented vocal ability and showmanship and you have one entertaining performance. And if that weren’t enough, as he wrapped his set, he pulled Spectacular and Slick'em from Pretty Ricky on stage who happened to be touring with the Millennium Tour also in town this weekend.
Once the dust settled, a light show ensued and Dru Hill, led by Sisqo, danced their way on stage while demonstrating their ability to harmonies which characterized their sound and help them Skyrocket to the top of the charts. The group's first two albums, Dru Hill and Enter The Dru, went platinum and double Platinum, respectively.
From the time the show opened with the group performing "Tell Me," their debut single, to the close of the show their vocal control and ability to connect with the audience never faltered. New members Black and Smoke appear to fit in seamlessly and even took to the forefront multiple times throughout the night while Sisqo humbly sang background to his stage mates.
However, uncharacteristic of other Dru Hill performances, the platinum blonde vocalist did break into a solo set with a crew of dancers incorporating aerial flips and handstands while belting notes from his solo singles like "The Thong Song" and his solo features on songs like "How Many Licks" which was originally performed with hip-hop Diva Lil Kim. The group would reconvene to finish the night with their biggest singles "How Deep Is Your Love" which was featured on The Rush Hour soundtrack and their most popular song "In My Bed."
By the time the show ended and I made my way back to my car, I found myself reminiscing of my days as a teen driving around the streets of Phoenix with R&B mixtapes blaring from my stereo. Needless to say, this is what feel-good music is supposed to sound like. And with such an up close and personal view of the show, I felt warm and well received. In fact, I felt like I was a local celebrity.