Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Concert Review

BFD: Big names in pop, hip-hop pump up stadium crowd

Seattle Times staff reporter

A cloudy and cold day at the Seahawks Stadium had the audience of yesterday's "Big Freakin' Deal" concert wondering whether they might be warmer in Seattle's new mass-transit system.

Whoops, forgot that Seattle doesn't have one. And P. Diddy probably wouldn't perform in a train anyway. Luckily, by the second act of the day, the sun came out.

OK, so the stadium can't drop you off door to door (that's what the parents are for), but it's an undeniably cool venue and its debut concert was a huge hit.

Twenty-thousand hysterical fans were treated to more than just nine performances by some of pop and hip-hop's biggest names; they saw it all in the atmosphere of a sprawling, open-air festival.

Big Freakin' Deal 4

With A.J. Gil, Mario, Daniel Bedingfield, BBMak, The Calling, Michelle Branch, Shaggy, Avril Lavigne, O-Town and P. Diddy. Monday night, Seahawks Stadium.
In the main concourse, you could run into friends between sets, get your BFD 4 shirt personalized with sequins and fake gems or stand in line to get autographs from your favorite heartthrob.

The party didn't really become a "big freakin' deal," until Shaggy got on stage with his troupe of dancers. "This ain't no freakin' opera, everyone!" he yelled.

Launching into hit after hit, Shaggy had the crowd dancing from the front of the stage to the very top row of the gleaming new stadium, with his high-energy Jamaican drawls of "Boombastic," "Angel" and "It Wasn't Me."

Arriving in typical monumental fashion, P. Diddy was the main attraction, dressed in a "pimp hat" and leather, opening with "Bad Boy For Life."

"Seattle, thanks for supporting me in my career — the ups and the downs! We're gonna give you your money's worth!" His show included pyrotechnics, confetti, dancing cheerleaders and Busta Rhymes supposedly via satellite. Perhaps a little too sample-reliant, P. Diddy still wrapped up the day with the most high-powered energy, running a little over an hour.

Avril Lavigne, the confident young rock delinquent wearing spike bracelets and a tie, was the main draw for many of the fans. Playfully pushing each other around on stage and rocking out to each other's energy, her band's rapport is genuine and her stage presence seems natural. Signing autographs later, she pushed guards aside to get to those in the back of the line.

The screams hit ear-deafening levels for O-Town, the five guys from the reality TV series "Making the Band." Naturally, it was their romantic slow song "Nothing at All" that had the audience in high fever.

Earlier in the day, A.J. Gil of TV's "American Idol" got the day off by singing a high-noted national anthem, before handing the stage over to the energetic, groin-thrusting Daniel Bedingfield.

The sun started shining when the British trio of BBMak hit the stage with new songs like "Get You Through the Night" from its upcoming album, as well as current hits like "Back Here."

California band The Calling set a more sentimental tone. Covering U2's "One," sideburned lead singer Alex Band pulled off growls that Bono would have been proud of. Lukewarm to "Stigmatized," people stood up only shortly before resuming the apparently more interesting activity of tossing beach balls among themselves.

Big hits of the first half included perhaps the youngest artist performing, a silver-panted Mario, who drove the ladies wild with his radio hit "Just a Friend."

Eighteen-year-old Michelle Branch connected with her fans best, dressed much like them in jeans, sneakers, braids and a knit hat.

There were also a few surprises as the evening went on: Host Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys let the audience listen to an exclusive preview of his song "Help Me" and Nordstrom joined the action with a 20-minute fashion show.

Hanging out backstage, A.J. Gil summed it up: "I really like the new stadium. It has great acoustics." The debut concert was a smash, but for the sake of future events, let's hope it never rains in Seattle.

Taha Ebrahimi:


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