Live: Soulja Boy at Broward Mall Macy's, August 13

Soulja Boy (Macys Broward Mall 8_13_2011)_by_Ian Witlen-Front.jpg
Photo by Ian Witlen
Soulja Boy
Macy's in the Broward Mall, Plantation
Saturday, August 13, 2011


View an 18-photo slide show from the concert here.

Better than: Black Friday, but just barely.

Normally the "magic of Macy's" isn't something that makes you sweat profusely. But the Juniors section was downright balmy on Saturday as a horde of a couple of hundred teens eagerly awaiting a hastily announced appearance by Soulja Boy (and their parents eagerly awaiting its conclusion).

This is not to say there were no adults who weren't looking forward to spending a portion of their afternoon in the far-flung Broward Mall with a 21-year-old rap superstar. The women working the Estée Lauder counter nearby cast more than a few glances to the stage as the 2 p.m. start time neared. The crowd packed tighter and tighter around several flimsy barriers surrounding a small stage literally in the middle of a sales floor filled with back-to-school fashion. Several fetchingly dressed Macy's staffers wore earpieces and barked out official-sounding instructions and eventually boxed the members of the press into a tiny strip of open floor at the front of the stage.

And in case there was any doubt, it was getting really warm.

After the DJ was well into blasting songs by Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, and Pitbull, a few members of DoSomething.org took the stage and got through "How many of you have heard of us?" before screams started cascading from the side of the crowd. Several enormous bodyguards and Plantation police slowly escorted Soulja Boy in red skinny jeans and a white v-neck T to the stage, and no one cared anymore why they were holding a free notebook.
Soulja Boy (Macys Broward Mall 8_13_2011)_by_Ian Witlen-Crowd.jpg
Photo by Ian Witlen

Full-on pandemonium took over the crowd when he reached the stage. Freshly 21, the rapper (born DeAndre Way) has moved past his Wite-Out on sunglasses phase and wants his fans to see the whites of his eyes. With his burly bodyguards watching intently, he launched into "Pretty Boy Swag" and the photo pit launched into some gymnastics to keep up, and they usually zigged when he zagged. At one point, the frenzy caused the sizable medallion on his chain to drop off and hit the floor. The photographer who retrieved it and offered it up was rewarded for his good deed by getting it snatched out of his hand by one of the oaf guards.

People were really going apeshit:
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Photo by Ian Witlen
The woman on the left, especially.




It was probably for the best that the media folks were escorted out of the ever-shrinking pit after the song ended, because the audience had borderline bloodlust in its eyes and repeatedly had to be told to back up.

Regardless of what you think of Soulja Boy's completely interchangeable songs -- largely inaudible slang posturing about swag and being popular on the internet set to bottom-heavy beats and keyboard flourishes -- he is quite adept at holding court over appreciative fans. With help from a young protégé by his side, he willingly carved sculptures in the air with his long arms and energetically kicked his way around the stage with his jeans hanging well below his hind quarters. He graciously splashed a bottle of water over the melee in front of him and at one point even made an ill-conceived attempt at stage-diving into the flimsy but eager arms of 12-year-olds. It was mostly clean fun that was occasionally good.
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Photo by Ian Witlen

After the strains of "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" turned the room into a sea of Boost Mobile, Soulja Boy calmed the throngs and offered a few words meant as inspiration. "We've got the next president in here, the next dentist in here, the next brain surgeon in here," he said. And after a bit about how these kids should never let the haters get in the way of their dreams, it was promptly time to "Superman that ho." It was still way too packed for anyone to shuffle side to side to "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," but after 30 minutes of performance time, even the "magic of Macy's" was wearing off.

Critic's Notebook

The crowd: The young fans you would expect at a Soulja Boy show and a lot of annoyed, graying shoppers who would've been happier for a surprise Jon Secada show. A woman in her mid-40s will have quite a tale to tell about the facial she received during "Put My Swag On." Also, at least one Lil B fan.
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Photo by Ian Witlen

Overheard: "Pretty sure a 7-year-old just got crushed" when Soulja Boy dove into the crowd.

Random Detail 1: Many of the middle- and high-school-aged kids' mothers were content to browse for exceptional values on the nearby racks while this was going on.

Random Detail 2: If three dings from the PA system means that someone has left the store without paying for something, at least four fans left with more than just iPhone photos.

By the Way: Soulja Boy: The Movie is out October 18.

Setlist:
Pretty Boy Swag
Put My Swag On
Zan With That Lean
Donk
Go to Mars
Kiss Me Thru the Phone
Crank That (Soulja Boy)


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