Thursday night brought forth an experience like none other! I am still not sure if I was at a classic 90s party or a concert like no concert I’d ever experienced before.
Many who happened to be teens or in their early twenties during the 90s made the trip to catch the I Love the 90s Tour, even coming as far as Detroit to re-experience their youth. The crowd was full of people sporting their favourite 90s fashion. There were scrunchies and mood rings, chokers and overalls. All the fashion faux pas we hoped would never come back were being worn with pride.
I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the building. Having only been born in the 90s myself, I was definitely one of the younger members of the audience. I knew the music and enjoyed the show, but I had never had the opportunity to experience a classic 90s party, which is what this seemed to be.
DeeWiz, our DJ and Salt-n-Pepa’s manager were our two animators for the night, and they had the classic hits spinning and the bass thumping. I could feel every beat through my whole body. These two were in charge of keeping the crowd hyped and coming on stage in between each opening act’s 15 minute set.
Thea Austin, former member of German Eurodance group Snap! took to the stage first. This part of the concert was one member from the old troupe on stage singing intermittently to a back track. Don’t get me wrong, she seemed to be having fun, and the crowd loved it, but it was definitely not what I expected when I was told Snap! was coming to the stage.
In her incredibly high heels, fishnets, and open baseball jersey, Austin was definitely having fun on stage and getting every one in the crowd pumped. The highlight from her performance was hearing every one in the audience sing along to “The Power”.
After Austin finished her set, DeeWiz was charged with getting everyone on their feet and dancing for C+C Music Factory. Member Freedom Williams happened to stroll into the building 5 minutes before his stage time. And jumped right in. Seeming to leap from one end of the stage to the other, including a cartwheel, Freedom hid his age well. Acting like he was 21, not 51 like he told us he was. The women in the crowd went nuts when he lost his jacket, moments after complaining that “it’s cold up here in Ottawa”.
Williams’ best performance, and definitely the most anticipated, was C+C Music Factory’s arguably biggest hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”. This upbeat performance was the best lead in to All 4 One’s slower, more ballad-filled set.
All 4 One was definitely the highlight of the night for me. Embracing their boy-band charm, these four men still had their choreography on point and their harmonies were tight! Performing their hits, as well as their lesser known songs, these guys slowed things down and had all in attendance swaying to the romantic melodies. The MC for the night joked that many in the audience “has had sex to their songs”.
My favorite part of their performance was “I Swear”. This classic love song, that that has been played time-and-time again was well received by everyone in the crowd and the group even signed the chorus in traditional American Sign Language. I thought that this was an amazing all-inclusive touch that they definitely did not have to include.
After All 4 One, our animators were back and they shamelessly plugged TLC’s T-Boz’s new upcoming book and their next Ship-hop cruise. Actually putting commercials up on the big screen. I have to say, watching commercials play in the middle of a concert was a first for me.
Our second-to-last act to take the stage Thursday night was Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath. The girls went wild when he appeared on stage, commenting on his “hot bod” from old music videos playing on screen.
Still rocking his frosted tips, McGrath brought an incredible energy to the stage. Feeling patriotic at the start of the set, as a hockey-loving American boy, McGrath went into his own rendition of the Canadian anthem, getting the crowd to help him out with lyrics and tune.
This 1990s heart-throb still had it, as he performed and rocked out with everyone singing along! Someone in the crowd even managed to get the singer’s attention with a familiar smell… something McGrath had just mentioned he thought that was missing from the night.
Right before going into arguably his biggest hit, McGrath took the time to call attention to the fact that as Canadian’s, We Care! He used the example of Hurricane Harvey to really drive this point home, before finally finishing with a great performance of Sugar Ray’s most loved hit “Fly”.
Finally, around 9:30, the most anticipated act took to the stage! TLC!! These girls still know how to rock! Putting on an incredible show with classic 90s Hip-Hop moves. There was never a dull moment up on stage with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.
Boy, can Chilli move! This girl was giving the back up dancers a run for their money, especially during the group’s performance of “Red Light Special”, where an audience member was pulled on stage and Chilli and the dancers put on quite the show for him! Between starting by tying his hands behind his back and having Chilli sitting on his lap… the heat was cranked up in TD Place!
T-Boz still has a set of lungs on her! Taking the lead for almost every song, she shows that time has no bearing on performance. This group blew the show out of the water when they performed their hits “Unpretty”, “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls”. Everyone went wild!
All-in-all this was a fun-filled night full of nostalgia and cliches, that was more about remembering the 90s and sending you back there with your friends than about the performances!