Live review/photos: Beyoncé and Kreayshawn go head-to-head in NYC

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  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Kreayshawn

Photograph: wagz2it

Kreayshawn


There were two hot-ticket shows last night: one starring a singer and entertainer at the peak of her powers, in control of her musical direction and multi-million-dollar empire, the other featuring a young upstart with a novelty hit ("Gucci Gucci"), barely old enough to drink.

It goes without saying that there's a huge gap in terms of Beyoncé's and Kreayshawn's experience as performers; Beyoncé has been in the biz since she was nine, Kreayshawn, well, hasn't (read our exclusive interview here). But the stark differences between these sold-out shows, and more importantly the approach each artist takes to putting on a show, do shine a light on pop culture and the way it's shifted in just a decade.

Beyoncé makes much of the fact she was inspired by Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five (as does her husband, Jay-Z). Like Jackson's career, Beyoncé's success is rooted equally in talent and elbow grease. Beyoncé learned her craft under the strict tutelage of her dad—that kind of charisma doesn't come without grind—and she was clear about the way she grafted from the beginning of last night's Roseland blowout, opening up with a Jackson song ("I Wanna Be Where You Are") and a story about her father cutting off Destiny's Child's first audition (complaining, "I can hear that snot in your nose"). The singer then rolled out her hits like an endless red carpet, existing just for Beyoncé to strut on. It was a glorious show, beginning with a medley of singles (and the stories behind them) and culminating with her new album, 4, being performed in its entirety. Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Maxwell, Jay-Z, Jennifer Hudson, the Dream, Ne-Yo, Kelly Rowland and Adele all watched the show, presumably feeling the same giddiness as the fans in the crowd (hip-hop kids, gay boys and well-coiffed girls). You simply can't watch and not be awed.

Beyoncé wore a shimmering gold leotard while her hair was tossed and tousled by a wind machine. Kreayshawn, on the other hand, dressed down to prove her merit. For her official NYC debut, the Oakland rapper wore a horrible white T-shirt tucked into ratty cut-off shorts. Was she being one of the boys? Or is she embarrassed by the spotlight? Kreayshawn's exposure to the mainstream and fame has come fast—probably too fast—and that's how it goes in 2011. In a media meritocracy where every last YouTube commenter has a say, unseasoned performers like Kreayshawn get to sell out the Highline before they even have enough songs to fill a headline slot. (To be clear, by unseasoned we're not talking about age; Shirley Temple was seasoned at six).

Kreayshawn's large, straggly entourage crowded the stage, and she needed the support; she doesn't yet know how to work a crowd and shared MC duties with White Girl Mob cohort V-Nasty (an impressive MC who apparently lost out on a big-bucks record deal because of her liberal use of the n–word). The show was a charming mess nonetheless. I like Kreayshawn because I think the handful of songs she has are great, and because she seems to genuinely enjoy what she does. She smiles a lot, which is rare, and her show felt like crashing a teenagers' house party.

Beyoncé's stage at Roseland was packed too, heaving with musicians: A full band, string section, brass section (including gleaming white saxophones), astoundingly beautiful backing singers. And still it felt like Beyonc was the only person onstage, such is her dazzle.

Of course it's not bad that Kreayshawn's live show is a bit of a shambles—that would be like saying that you have to know how to dance to have fun at a school disco. But what a thing to see: make-it-up-as-you-go opportunism contrasted so vividly with old-fashioned showbiz. In New York at least, there is still room for both.

Users say

1 comments
Anonymous
Anonymous

Kreayshawn is a one hit wonder summer thing. She is not going to last. Her songs are bad. It's not so hard to fill up a place like the Hilghline. Let's see if she can fill up a stadium like Beyonce. Kreayshawn is a gimmick who looks like Popey'es girlfriend, Olive Oyl. Ahahahah!!!

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