Many Fans Disappointed in R. Kelly
Appearance at Whiskey River in Macon
by Amanda Smith
Many fans and concertgoers who expected a live concert were disappointed on Father’s Day, June 17, 2012 as R&B legend R Kelly made an appearance at Whiskey River.
The appearance by R Kelly lasted less than an hour, beginning at approximately midnight and ending before 1am. Fans were treated to something much less than an actual concert as he appeared onstage without a band and spent time talking to the audience and singing incomplete songs, either acapella or to sound tracks. The performer would, at times, ask the DJ, "what you got for me" to which the DJ would spin an R Kelly tune and he would sing along. "If you know me as a performer and you sell tickets to an event, you expect me to perform," stated one audience member, who was disappointed by the event.
Regular tickets sold for $30 and VIP tickets for $75. Advertisements stated "dress to impress" and many purchasers did so. Some were disappointed when R Kelly appeared in a T-shirt and jeans. Many attendees were offended by the obscene language and the casual tone of the appearance.
Female fans were invited to participate in a slow grind "dance contest" for a $500 prize and several women got onstage and began grinding to the music. While a white female did her "grind", R Kelly started a chant in which the audience joined in, "go white girl, go white girl." When the dance was over, R Kelly stated, "I ain't prejudiced." But immediately after the dance, he also stated, "I better get a m*** f*** black girl up here to kill that white m** f*** that was just doin' her shi*."
Another attendee complained that the performer was simply disrespectful of the Macon audience. "When he was done, he put the microphone down and started drinking and hanging out on stage; the audience just kinda fizzled because no one knew what was going on," said the fan. "When he left the stage, he didn't say 'thank you, Macon' or 'good night Macon' or anything. He just walked off the stage and left."
Other attendees were pleased with the event and the mixed reviews appear to be governed by a person’s perception of the event beforehand. "I attended the show and the word I got on it afterward was that he's doing that everywhere he goes," said another audience member. "The flyer doesn't say concert and I guess that's how he gets away with it, but the amount they charged for the tickets gave the impression that it would be a concert."
Many complaints centered on the low quality of the other performers and the obscenity and vulgarity of the show. "Michael Stokes performed first and he wasn't about nothing," said a man who attended the show. "Then a guy came on after Stokes and was calling female audience members ‘bitches'. I'm glad I didn't take my wife; it was terrible."
Clear Channel radio station ran the advertising spot on WIBB 97.9 and Market Manager Thomas Bacote explained the station's part in the event. "We have several shows that come through the market here," he said. "When they buy a spot, we run it. There is no partnership between Clear Channel and the sponsor."
Gilbert Udoto of Odyssey Records, which promoted the show, made the following statement: "R Kelly does an 'Up Close & Personal' show everywhere he goes," said Udoto. "He's done this show in Atlanta and Orlando; all over the country. I'm surprised that people would complain; the promotion flyers do not say concert and we did not promote it as such."
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