In the Patriot Center parking lot before and after Vanilla Ice's concert Sunday night, one aspect of the much-ballyhooed similarity between the white rapper and Elvis Presley was in evidence. Before Ice brought what he calls "the music of the ghetto" to the suburban stage, scores of white teenage girls -- the overwhelming majority of the audience -- giddily skipped and squealed from the parking lot into the packed arena. The squealing intensified once the newest kid on the hip-hop block emerged onstage, basking in a cloud of billowing smoke and a shower of high-tech emerald laser lights.
Later, Ice was joined by his eight-member posse, including five dancers, D.J. Earthquake and two live musicians. According to various reports, Ice's manager, Tommy Quon, hired an all-black entourage to make Ice stand out onstage. He did -- like a sore and embarrassingly stiff thumb. How else can you explain Ice's total reliance on unimaginative pelvic push-ups during his dance solo, while his more limber and acrobatic dancers turned back flips and did splits during theirs? While Ice was upstaged by his own dancers, some of his rhymes were unnecessarily "filled in" by Earthquake. Even when he performed his mega-hit "Ice, Ice, Baby," Ice let the crowd do most of the rhyming.
Vanilla Ice has also been compared by some to M.C. Hammer because of his dance-oriented live show. But while Hammer is acrobatic and tireless in concert, Ice was inelastic and tiresome. When he wasn't mopping his brow with a towel, he was frequently interrupting his nine-song set with endless appeals for crowd response. Even a seemingly sincere request for a moment of silent prayer for U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf came off as yet another stall tactic. Also, in keeping with his arguably contrived street-smart image, Ice often dropped obligatory hip-hop slang. His annoying and robotic "Aw, yeah's" and "Yep, yep's" made him sound like a six-foot flat-topped wind-up doll.
There were some silver linings in the Vanilla cloud: The 3-D laser display, including images of waves crashing on an illuminated beach during a slow-tempo number and a fluorescent locomotive rhythmically chugging to "Stop This Train," provided an out for those who grew tired of Ice's constantly contorting pelvis. A live saxophonist and drummer helped spruce up the otherwise generic-sounding "Hooked" and "I Love You."
The teeny-boppers loved Ice back so much that a thousand of them surged into the parking lot after the show, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. He eventually departed in a limousine, but not before hundreds of his fans knocked over steel barricades and got tangled up with Patriot Center security.