Before the NBA All-Star Game took over the New Orleans Arena on Sunday night (Feb. 16), Aloe Blacc, Jason Derulo and Mack Wilds put on a slickly produced show next door. The Sprint Pregame Concert was held at the Bud Light District adjacent to the arena, and was broadcast live on NBA TV and TNT.
“My name is Aloe Blacc, and I’m here to sing some songs,” the stylish crooner declared at the top of his performance, which kicked off with a version of “Wake Me Up!” that traded Avicii’s EDM intensity for a blaring saxophone and trumpet. Blacc’s trembling voice carried throughout the Bud Light bungalow during renditions of “Wake Me Up!” and his recent Top 20 hit “The Man,” but the singer-songwriter was most effective during his lesser-known track “Can You Do This,” shaking his hips as graphics of bow ties and sunglasses flew behind him on the video screen. Blacc’s showmanship has ramped up as his collection of hits has grown; it’s no wonder why Bruno Mars invited him on an upcoming leg of his Moonshine Jungle tour.
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For all-out choreography, though, Jason Derulo was predictably on top — as in, perched at the pinnacle of a human pyramid during a performance of “In My Head.” Eschewing his hit ballad “Marry Me” for more uptempo fare, the Miami singer was dripping with sweat by the time he capped off the two-part performance with his current Top 5 smash, “Talk Dirty,” alongside four backup dancers. In between songs, Derulo revealed that performances like his Sunday night show often require eight-hour rehearsals.
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Rising hip-hop artist Mack Wilds’ Grammy-nominated debut album is titled “New York: A Love Story,” and fittingly, the former “The Wire” actor leapt onstage clad in a black Kevin Garnett jersey. “This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Wilds told the crowd after his performance of his hit single “Own It” and album cut “My Crib.”
The Sprint Pregame Concert was followed by Pharrell Williams’ guest-laden performance during the player introductions at the NBA All-Star Game. The halftime show features a collaboration between Janelle Monae, Dr. John, Gary Clark Jr., Earth Wind & Fire and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.