Amid coast-to-coast frenzy about the $1.3 billion Mega Millions jackpot this week, there was only one magic number for Hollywood Bowl music fans Friday night (July 29): 30. That’s the number of hit-filled years that TLC and Boyz II Men each brought to the stage during their respective 70-minute sets that kept the audience screaming, dancing and singing along from start to finish.
Plugging into the ’90s nostalgia vibe that was already percolating throughout the full house, DJ Bubz jump-started his pre-intro set with DMX’s “Party Up (Up in Here).” From there, the party shifted straight into overdrive as he expertly steered into Kris Kross’ “Jump,” Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.,” the latter of which elicited a boisterous audience sing-along and rabid arm waving. And still Bubz — who busted out his own share of energetic dance moves — kept it coming, cheekily sliding in a snippet of the theme song from TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before whiplashing into Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It,” Ginuwine’s “Pony” and Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.” Then as four dancers dressed in silver shimmied onstage, Bubz ended his eight-minute run by asking the hyped-up audience one question: “Are you ready for TLC?!”
Still on the TLC Tip: Also dressed in silver, TLC’s Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas opened with “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” followed by “What About Your Friends” — and quickly proved that 30 years is nothin’ but a number. “We’re very happy to be here tonight,” said Chilli. “Some of you have been with us since day one … and you’re still here. We love you.” That showed as the ladies traded lead vocals, harmonized — and also kept in step with the dance crew — on a string of TLC hits including crowd-pleasers “Baby-Baby-Baby,” “Creep” and “Red Light Special” (with the stage bathed in red) as well as other cuts, such as “Diggin’ on You” and “FanMail.”
A key moment during this segment was T-Boz’s intro to the group’s No. 1 Hot 100 single “Unpretty.” Noted the singer, “This next song is near and dear to my heart because I wrote it from my heart. My boyfriend then made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. With social media now, the song still rings true today.” Then to applause, she added, “I kicked his a– to the curb.”
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