Review by Tess Marshall & Shelley Te Haara

Remember when Pony Bar existed? Saturday night’s spent hovering around the stripper poles while 50 cent’s “In da club” boomed on loudspeakers…

If anything can take you back to the noughties, it’s Friday Jams. It started as a day of listening to R&B and hip-hop bangers rooted heavily in nostalgia, helping everyone end their week right. It’s now a festival all on its own and arguably one of the biggest with 35,000 people cramming into Western Springs stadium on Sunday night.

Yes you heard that right on Sunday… a festival called Friday Jams… Well I found that super confusing and booked a babysitter for Friday only to have my plus one tell me, I got muddled. It didn’t seem to deter the thousands pouring through the gates. But maybe that was down to the line up- early sets included kiwi’s rap crusader… the “how many dudes you know roll like thisScribe before “Boy Is Mine” sensation Brandy serenaded us, and we got those fingers twitching Destiny’s Child styles. 
I don’t think Brandy has aged and she gave a great performance considering there were sound issues throughout. I think she handled this very well by apologising to the crowd continuously but still pushing through.
Scribe came out in a bulletproof vest that said ‘PRAY4ME’. And he touched on how he was in jail and “liked it”. He definitely had a bitty of a cocky attitude. But with P-Money on the decks, it was a good set.

J-Kwon actually started the whole show before Scribe and Brandy with tracks like ‘Tipsy’ and really got things going for the night. I think sometimes you wonder if these acts that were big quite some time ago can still give a great performance, but they can! The dancers he had come out with him really added another element to his performance.
Savage came through with his hits like ‘Swing’ and ‘Trumpets’. This is 1 act kiwi crowds can’t help but love. He just gets the crowd going with his fun beats and raw voice. If Savage tells you to move, you move!

Now Keri Hilson is one I think a lot of the crowd was excited for. She had such a powerful presence but her smile & dance moves just really gave a hint of sass and fun to her performance. I was a bit disappointed she didn’t play ‘Energy’ but I was glad she started with ‘Knock You Down’ which is another great track that she really did well with.

Thong thong thong thong thong!” Now there’s no denying this track from Sisqo was a banger! So obviously it went down really well with the crowd. But I have to say Sisqo gave an incredible performance with his backup dancers. The energy was there and his vocals were good. Though I have to say what really stood out for me, a part from the hair, was that big dragon mic piece. I mean why not right?

And then came the big guns. 

Jason De Rulo got the party started and sweated up a storm on stage. There was dancing, lots of it. Though when you have 4 dancers with you and platforms added to the stage, it really just works. He was all smiles as he performed and he really gave a great performance which I thought was actually a lot better than the one he gave when he last visited here and played at Spark Arena. But oh the screaming, so much screaming! The now thirty-something very strategically removed his shirt during ’Talk Dirty To Me’ and was met with shrieks from the predominantly-female crowd. It was an experience.

Fatman Scoop hosted the festival last year so it was good to see him back again. He was co-hosting with Clint from ZM. They gave some good entertainment and hype inbetween the acts.

Next up was Mr G-Unit himself, 50 Cent, who may I add at the age of 44 looks absolutely incredible. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him, but it was the best I’d seen him, physically and vocally. He definitely had a husky tone, but he didn’t overshout like some aging rappers do and he pulled out banger after banger. ’In Da Club’, ’1 Questions’, ’PIMP’, ’Candy Shop’. He had 2 people accompany him who smoked a joint with him and provided more hype to the crowd and the tracks they accompanied him on.
It really took me back to my times at Pony Club. For those of us who came purely for the nostalgia, Fifty did something we didn’t’t expect he’d do… he performed a new song. Clearly he didn’t get the memo this party is for the classics. 

And just after the crowd topped up their drink, Black Eyed Peas got things raging again. They didn’t address the elephant in the room – there was no Fergie – but no-one seemed to mind. Especially when they dedicated ‘Where Is The Love’ to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings. They played hit after hit and at one point I wondered whether I was at Mardi Gras as colourful glitter cannons exploded during ’I’ve Got a Feeling’. It was sing-a-long stuff littered with a sea of phones as everyone captured their best instagram story, even Will.I.Am. They all seemed so happy to be onstage performing and gave a great performance. 

But then it happened. Two words Janet Jackson.

Her reviews hadn’t exactly been inspiring out of Australia where the festival had been, on Friday (of course). But I don’t think anyone was prepared for the trainwreck that ensued.

It appears it just wasn’t the crowd who had lost their voices. 

Credit where credit is due, she still had the moves, and at 53 that is no easy feat. But she is Michael’s little sister so surely the moonwalk genes count for something.

It was the voice, well more accurately the lack of voice. Unlike her Australian reviews she didn’t appear to be miming- it was more you couldn’t really hear her and then when you did you wish you hadn’t. It was awkward and you wanted to look and dance, but then you realised everyone else felt the same. It became one of those moments when everyone collectively began to think about work tomorrow and that if we leave now we might beat the traffic and the whole thing deflated like a really sad balloon.

So yeah… for a night all about nostalgia and reliving our youth, we were left realising we’re not and the party has come to an end. And sadly Janet took us there a good half an hour earlier than we probably wanted too.

Though that was not how we all wanted the night to end. I have to say it definitely wasn’t a waste. The rest of the acts were so great and the rain managed to hold off for an enjoyable evening overall!



Fatman Scoop








Keri Hilson






Jason Derulo


50 Cent


Black Eyed Peas

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