Missy Elliott’s slow creep of a comeback over the past year — her rousing 2015 Super Bowl appearance, her recent singles “WTF (Where They From)” and “Pep Rally” — did little to prepare the audience at the Warner Music post-Grammy party at Milk Studios in Hollywood for the explosive 45-minute set she performed.
The crowd was already excited to see her, but once she took the stage a merciless full-scale assault on the senses began: a blazing set filled with hits and album cuts, 10 dancers, two hype men, a rocking light show (with occasional lasers), dry ice and a video screen behind the stage playing edits of the songs’ videos or high-energy patterns. And that’s not including Elliott herself, who worked the crowd relentlessly, exhorting people to wave their hands and jump, dance, yell — and at once point ran out into the crowd and jumped on a couch in the middle of the floor and delivered nearly an entire song there.
“Get Ur Freak On,” “The Rain,” “Hot Boyz,” “Work It,” “Pass the Dutch,” “WTF” (before which she called out to Pharrell in the audience) — the set was a nonstop Missy Elliott mixtape with a multisensory overload of videos, lights, dancers, a throbbing beat, and the artist herself. And it was all for possibly the most business-heavy crowd she could play outside of a private corporate event.
“Ya’ll real corporate,” she said mid-show. “I like to keep my shit real and ‘hood.” She also told the crowd at least three times to put their phones down — in a surprisingly friendly and un-scoldy way — and just rock to the music, and surprisingly a large number of people did. She seemed to be enjoying herself so much that she said a couple of times, “I was only supposed to play 15 minutes, but f— it. Sorry Julie!” she said to Atlantic chairman/COO Julie Greenwald.
It was as exciting and energetic a concert as we’ve seen in years – and according to Greenwald, Elliott has no current plans to tour and work continues on her first album in more than 10 years. A show like this in theaters would blow people’s heads off — hopefully she won’t keep it from the world for much longer.