We tried to follow the music. Drake’s “One Dance” was bumping through Central Park, and it was obviously coming from somewhere close. But each time a group of us, us being excited fans of B.O.B. and DNCE, tried to enter Rumsey Playfield for the City Parks Summer Stage Concert, we were told to go around to the back. When we finally found the entrance, it was quite the cathartic moment. The entrance to the Summer Stage was lined with fair-style goodies, popcorn, drinks, burgers and fries. Capital One memorabilia too, as the bank had sponsored the event. Though the breezy weather felt like post-summer much more than summer itself, the music being played by DJ MoMo had the crowd in summer-nostalgia mode. I’m sure many of the fans were wishfully thinking of beach days, stress-free times when school, work, and responsibilities were still a distant concept. The jams started out with classic summer vibes, Drake, Kanye, and Justin Timberlake, but as the evening progressed and the time for B.O.B. came closer, DJ MoMo brought out the true hip-hop and R&B-head music, and the crowd responded thankfully. Older and heavier music like Lauryn Hill, The Roots, and even T-Pain were played. When B.O.B. arrived on the stage the crowd was sufficiently warmed up.
He ran on stage wearing third-eye shades, a stylish metaphor showing his woke-ness. He broke the ice with an inside joke: “My name is Bob,” a reference to how fake fans say his name. B.O.B. rhymed and sang while actively promoting his newest album: Ether. He began the night with “Mr. Mister,” a song on the most recent album that talks about B.O.B.’s ability to take on different roles. As a singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer, the proof is truly in the musical pudding. He then brought back O.G. classics like “Strange Clouds” and “Airplanes,” and employed the crowd in order to make up for the lack of those features on the song, i.e. Lil Wayne and Bruno Mars. B.O.B.’s mission on this night was to connect with his day one fans, and as he played songs from his early mixtapes like “Elements,” he crowd-surfed and rapped alongside fans that he admitted might know his lyrics better even than he. He ended his set with a Cardi B shout out, and pleaded with everyone not to drink and drive, rather to smoke and fly.
The middle of the set between B.O.B. and DNCE was then filled with the legendary Questlove, whose DJ set consisted of varied music, from hip-hop to rock, from 2 Chainz to Nirvana. It was pleasant to see the crowd jamming out to different types of music, and the fact that the concert had sets from different genres was refreshing and interesting. When DNCE finally entered the stage, they brought chaos. The band mates ran on stage with lion-masks, sprinting from end to end to hype up the crowd. They began their set with nuanced covers from Drake and Bruno Mars, and then moved to original tracks like “Be Mean,” and “Body Moves.” The homo-erotic humor between lead singer Joe Jonas and bassist/keyboardist Cole Whittle kept the crowd chuckling between songs. When the band slowed down, sat down, and started singing down tempo music, the soul of the band finally bled through. I felt that the immediate chaos, which they entered the stage with, was slightly extra, and not conducive to expert musicality. But, when they did calm down a bit, it was obvious that the band was composed of expert musicians. And, masterfully, DNCE was able to bring the tempo back up for the grand finale. The crowd was satisfied, happy, and invigorated.
All in all, City Parks Summer Stage 2017 featuring B.O.B., Questlove, and DNCE, was a huge success, and New York City is thankful for it.