As a teen, Chris Brown set himself apart from the crop of R&B heartthrobs that emerged in the mid-2000s with dance skills and stage presence that led many to proclaim him the heir apparent to the late great King of Pop Michael Jackson.
Though the gap between Brown and many of his contemporaries remains, he didn’t quite reach the standard that many have come to expect from his live performances when his INDIGOAT tour came to Enterprise Center Thursday night. The triple-threat singing, dancing and rapping machine delivered a show that would have been fine for most. But this is the same Chris Brown that is known for perfectly executed backflip mid-song as the culmination of the most high impact of choreography combination and jump right into crooning without missing a breath, a note or a beat.
The intention of his INDIGOAT tour performance didn’t seem to be to leave audiences in awe – but it was entertaining enough to let them know that he still has it in him.
The lengthy evening of music that was equal parts hip-hop and R&B – and sometimes a blend of them both – began with newcomer Yella Beezy. His stage offering was just a hair under what would be expected from a neophyte rap star on stage for the sake of exposure. Audience was receptive to Beezy, even after he abandoned his attempt to rap along to his tracks and danced back and forth across the stage for his final track.
Joyner Lucas on the other hand presented a fully polished show that could rival a rap veteran. His set began with a lengthy video parody that showed him and a friend down on their luck and reduced to working in a dusty car repair show before Lucas gets a call from Brown to join him on the tour.
The dragged on too long to pack the punch it had the potential of delivering. But once Lucas emerged on stage, it was apparent why Brown invited him to be a part of the tour. Relatively new, he has the confidence, swagger and ability to carry a show without leaning on vocal tracks that is typically reserved for veterans and legends. He got mainstream hip-hop’s attention with the viral video “I’m Not Racist,” but proved to St. Louis his talent stretches far beyond the typical internet sensation. He had the nerve to demand a do over if the crowd wasn’t giving up the energy he thought he deserved. With performances of “I Love” and “Just Like You” and “I’m Not Racist,” Lucas proved there’s a place for him among the rising stars of rap. He also got political – asking all of the guests that were old enough to go to the polls to vote Trump out of office.
Ty Dolla $ign was best in show among the openers. The L.A. crooner, supported by autotune and a lead guitarist, delivered a splendid mix of sounds to support his sex driven lyrics – from Reggae to hard rock, rap, trap and smooth R&B. “Saved,” “Or Nah,” and “Pineapple” were among the set that closed with him gifting the bass guitar and microphone he used during the show to his “first and second loudest “ fans.
Canadian rapper/singer hybrid Tory Lanez handled the responsibility of being the segue between the opening act and headliner quite well. He was excessively chatty with transitions that felt labored, but his ability to keep a crowd engaged cannot be denied. He usually presents a more structured show, but even if it felt like he only performed two selections because of audience participation and hyping activities, Lanez still had the crowd in the palm of his hand by the end of his portion of the show – which featured more snippets of 90s R&B classic than his own music.
Brown kicked off the main event with “Indigo,” the title track from his latest album for which the tour is sort of named after.