From Bummer to a Blast in 60 Seconds…Pure Avril
Avril Lavigne definitely picked the right song to start off her Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert appearance, her upbeat and timely “What The Hel*” was the perfect song to start out what would be a unique and escalating Rays post game concert experience.
With stage hands frantically assembling, plugging and barking orders even moments before the Sk8tr Goddess hit the small stage you got the feeling this was going to be a high energy, dance producing moment, then someone or something decided a microphone monkey wrench had to be inserted into the whole sha-bang. During her first number Lavigne’s portable mic was anything but cooperative, and suddenly Lavigne bopped her way off stage.
The crowd was instanly stunned, and taken totally a- back, but immediately you could see frantic stagehands trying to get the mic situation done pronto. In the background you could see the angst growing on Lavigne’s face as she spoke to her handlers and concert personnel trying to figure out “What The Hel*”.
After several minutes of calming energy Lavigne reappeared smiling, enthusiastic the silence in her concert was defeated, she started out by letting out a impromptu, four-letter word Sk8tr sermon to the assembled masses that must have had a few Rays executives gasping. Still, it was the release of built up emotional garbage and hostility that needed to be exorcised for this show to explode and take us with it.
Lavigne then started sans her band in an a Capella rendition of “What The Hel*” that conquered the stress, angst and even submerged any bummer feeling among the Rays turf crowd. It was an amazing arrangement, plus really showed off that the actress, perfume and clothing maven was definitely not a one trick pony, or needed heavy musical background noise to hide any vocal deficiencies. This Gurl could wail with the best of them.
From that moment on this concert went into a non-stop ride of bouncing in place in unison with the punk rock princess, crowd participation sing-a-longs and watching the Trop’s roof bouncing up and down a few times. Suddenly you could see the crowd feed energy to Lavigne and she returned the favor in spades. This concert definitely went from a rocky summit to a thrill ride inducing encore featuring Lavigne’s smash “Complicated” and there was not a seatbelt in sight.
I was excited beforehand to see what Sean Daly the local St. Petersburg Times music critic announced was the “One of the Best Rays Concert signing to date” Lavigne had us from her Ceremonial first pitch when the petite Lavigne threw to Rays giant ( 6′ 8”) Reliever Adam Russell and delivered a pitch across both our and the plate’s heart. From the neon green strands in her blond tresses to her splattered paint neon green motocross boots, she not only fit the Sk8tr motif to a “T”, she was their anointed punk Queen.
The song “What The Hel*” is still ringing in my ear. Not the band induced sampling, but that dramatic and unexpected solo offering that showed so much more of this singer’s talent, creativity and down right untapped reservoir of angst energy.
Would I turn down a moment watching a prime example of the type of girl guys like me chased when Motocross, Rat Bikes and skateboarding was in its infant stages….She was the bomb-digitty in her black and neon. Would I stand waiting for her to return on stage again…. You bet your life, in a New York minute . Some musical artists you love for things you can’t explain, or do not want to divulge to friends or family. Lavigne is that kind of artist to me. She reminded me of simpler times when song, energy and sticking to your guns with your style was paramount.
In essence, she made me want to be a Skatr boi all over again. But this time with cooler hair. Only bummer of the concert ( besides the obvious) was the fact the Rays stage was too small for a piano so we could see another dimension of Avril unfold in person. “What The Hel*”, I guess life really is a bit “Complicated” after all.