New York City experienced a major Flashback Friday moment on Friday night (March 6). Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater was packed to the rim for the second edition of the highly-successful Millennium Tour, which features early-2000s R&B and hip-hop hitmakers guiding fans on a trip down memory lane.
Last year’s national tour, which garnered an impressive $25.5 million over 44 dates, was headlined by B2K and featured Mario, Ying Yang Twins, Lloyd, Pretty Ricky and Chingy. This time around, Omarion is rolling solo, and over 32 dates, he’ll share the spotlight with Bow Wow, Ashanti, Pretty Ricky, Soulja Boy, Sammie, Ying Yang Twins and Lloyd.
The massive crowd piling into MSG from all sides featured concertgoers of all ages and ethnicities, showcasing just how impactful the early-aughts musical era was for adolescents and teens, who are now somewhere in their 20s and 30s. Of course, a night out means looking the part, and if it’s 2000s-themed, people will show up and show out: women were decked in their finest Baby Phat threads and doorknocker earrings, while the men in attendance sported face bandaids a la Nelly and du-rags to keep their waves contained.
Before the nearly four-hour concert began, the arena pregamed with songs from current cultural behemoths DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, and the late native New Yorker Pop Smoke (“Welcome To The Party” played twice, and received the most raucous reaction of the entire event). Thanks to the Hulu Theater’s intimate setting, the audience was able to be fully immersed in the show no matter where they sat, a pleasant touch considering — even after all these years — this may have been the first time fans have seen these artists in concert.
Many of the acts performed their newer songs in addition to their throwback joints. Teen idol Sammie proved he’s all grown up now with mature performances of “I’m Him” and “Expiration Date,” in addition to his star-making hit, 2000’s “I Like It.” The now 33-year-old was discovered at the Apollo Theater in 1999, and while some vocal talents come and go, there’s no denying that he’s still got the pipes. He often melted into an impressive falsetto throughout his time on stage. The charged-up Ying Yang Twins provided a glimpse of their new material with “Stupid,” but of course, the crowd was most lit when they performed their biggest tracks “The Whisper Song,” “Badd,” and “Salt Shaker.” Their transition from “Whistle While You Twurk” into their finale, the Billboard Hot 100 smash “Get Low,” was the smoothest of the whole show.
Soulja Boy ran through a slew of songs from his catalog that further amped up the already energetic crowd. The fur coat-wearing emcee performed F.L.Y’s “Swag Surfin’” (he was featured on the remix), which predictably sent the audience into a frenzy as they clutched onto each other to dance as a unit. “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” elicited cheers from the entire arena, who hopped out their seats to do the 2007 viral dance craze. With performances of “Kiss Me Thru The Phone,” “Pretty Boy Swag,” and Roscoe Dash’s “All The Way Turnt Up,” props must be given to Young Draco for providing memorable music moments throughout the 21st century.
Pretty Ricky and Lloyd had the ladies swooning from start to finish. The Miami quartet — comprised of Pleasure P, Slick Em, Spectacular and Baby Blue — put on a production complete with eye-popping choreography, superb singing and impressive rapping. They performed legacy tracks “Grind With Me” and “On The Hotline,” and showcased their X-rated new song “Body.” Each member of the group had a solo moment on stage, with Pleasure P’s inimitable vocals (which sound “just like his motherf–king records”) and Spectacular’s pec-tacular dance routine stealing the show. Lloyd, whose luscious vocals and megawatt smile had fans going apes–t even before his set began, ran through a string of memorable melodies like “Bedrock,” “Get It Shawty,” and “You.” The musician, who had his enviable curls braided up this go-around, wore an olive green OBEY jumpsuit with a print of Nipsey Hussle on the back, one of the many tributes to fallen icons throughout the evening. Ashanti, Bow Wow and Omarion paid their respect to Hussle, Kobe Bryant, Pop Smoke and more during their sets.
Although Ashanti fell victim to wardrobe and ear pack mishaps, she didn’t miss a beat, and felt the support from the largely-female crowd. The multi-hyphenate, who emerged from the ground in a throne and sported a red leather bodysuit and fur jacket, gave pleasant nods to the East and West Coasts. She interpolated Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode” with her hit “Happy,” and dusted off “Unfoolish,” the promotional version of her chart-topping track “Foolish,” which features The Notorious B.I.G. Tunes like “What’s Luv?” “Mesmerize,” “Rock Wit U,” and an appearance by Lloyd for their collab “Southside” had the audience’s attention. As someone who noted she’s recovering from a recent foot surgery, her enthusiasm was on 100 from start to finish.
The night ended with Omarion and Bow Wow, who each performed solo, and then came together for a much-too-short on-stage reunion of the songs from their 2007 joint project, Face Off, including “Let Me Hold You.” O’s theatrical, dance-heavy renditions of “Icebox,” “Entourage,” “Post To Be,” and his latest single “Can You Hear Me” brought vivacity to the show’s conclusion. Bow Wow, who’s stamina could only be compared to the Energizer Bunny, performed hits from when he had the “Lil” attached straight through to his more adult songs. From “Bounce Wit Me” to “Shortie Like Mine” to “Ain’t Thinking About You,” the audience appeared to know every single word to the songs in this icon’s catalogue.
While news of the world outside seems to get bleaker each day, the Millennium Tour 2020 was an excellent way to escape the drama and reminisce about the good ol’ times. Even if it was just for a few hours, nothing feels better than dropping your cares and remembering how things used to be.