Rick Ross had a hit in 2010 with his single “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).” And blowin’ money fast was what anyone who paid to see Ross perform at the Pontiac Silverdome Friday night was doing.
The Silverdome — that hulking, 80,000 seat structure that played host to Pope John Paul II, WrestleMania III and the entirety of Barry Sanders’ career — is rarely used these days, its pillowy roof looming in the Metro Detroit skyline as a monument to an earlier era. The troubled building (see its recent tax woes) has played host to several concerts in recent years, including shows by A.R. Rahman and the dual bill of Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich, though why anyone would choose to scale the gargantuan venue to theatre proportions — especially given the Silverdome’s notoriously poor acoustics — remains a mystery.
Friday’s concert was presented by Pioneer Entertainment — its website leads only to a Ticketmaster page for Friday’s show — and was, to put it plainly, an unorganized mess. A dozen unadvertised local openers hit the stage, set up at about what would have been the building’s 40 yard line and flanked by small, cheap video screens on either side, prior to Ross’ Maybach Music Group labelmates Wale and Meek Mill. Wale and Meek Mill each performed brief sets — Wale’s was eight minutes, Mill’s was shorter — before joining Ross for a roundabout MMG headlining set.
(A rider for the evening showed Meek Mill was scheduled to do a 30-minute set, followed by a 40-minute set by Wale and a 50-minute set by Ross, as opposed to the mashup the set became.)
When Wale finally hit the stage at around 11:20 p.m., it was after nearly an hour of inactivity on stage. Crews worked to tape down sets of wires with duct tape, something that should have been done hours before doors were opened. Promoters (and, eventually, Oakland County police officers) worked to clear nearly 100 “VIPs” who crowded the stage during sets by Dusty McFly, K-Deezy, Trigg da Kidd and more. WJLB-FM’s (97.9) Foolish and “Flavor of Love 2″ winner Deelishis, the evening’s hosts, finally introduced Wale at 10:52 p.m., though it would be another half-hour before he emerged from his tour bus. Around 11:15 p.m., members of the audience, who numbered around 3,000-4,000, began to boo.
Ross came out just after 11:30 p.m., rapping his part from last year’s “John,” itself a redo of his previous year’s “I’m Not a Star.” But Ross is a star, and he’s currently one of rap’s top MCs, and even amid the general chaos of the night his starpower was still felt throughout the building. Or maybe it was just a relief he actually decided to show up.
Ross traded stage time with Mill and Wale, as each filed through their catalogs, sometimes joining each other on songs, as the considerable bass rattled off the concrete in the building. Then, at around 10 after midnight, the venue’s houselights came up out of nowhere, leading many to flee for the exits. The houselights stayed on while Ross and his crew kept going, shutting off after about 10 minutes. (No explanation was given, and only scattered crowds remained after the lights were turned back off.) Ross was doing drive-bys on his own songs — he did less than one verse of “B.M.F.” — which for some reason has become acceptable and the standard for rap concerts.
The ineptitude of the evening wasn’t surprising; the show seemed like a disaster from the moment it was announced. There are at least a dozen venues in Metro Detroit that would have been a better fit for the concert — from the Fillmore to the Fox and on down — so why choose the Silverdome? The fans deserve better, from the performance to the stage set-up, but it’s not even clear if they understand that Friday night they were ripped off.