Longtime readers of Boy Culture may be surprised that I made it out to Rihanna's 777 gig last night
at Webster Hall; I haven't exactly written of my undying affection for the Barbadian bad girl.
But while I haven't been able to relate to her reaction to her Chris Brown beat-down, I have to admit she has a string of hit songs, many of which feel like indelible classics. Is it really so hard to imagine people listening to and loving "Only Girl (In the World)", "Don't Stop the Music", "We Found Love" or "Umbrella" decades from now? Speaking of which, with her new single "Diamonds" hitting #1, she ties Madonna and The Supremes with 12 pole-positioners, putting her behind only Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and The Beatles for most #1 hits. And she's only 24...the same age Madonna was when she released her very first single. (Yes, yes, I know—Rihanna has had guests, Rihanna has benefited from iTunes. But it's still fucking impressive.
The gimmick of Rihanna's (tumultuous!) 777 is that the surprise gigs are free and first-come-first-served. She was traveling with press and superfans to complete 7 gigs in 7 countries in 7 days. With New York the last stop, I felt lucky to be invited so showed up at 7:30. Doors were at 7, my contact told me she was expected at 9. Famous last words.
Inside, I was three to four people back from the stage. The gatekeepers made sure that the venue was only about 1/4 full until 9...people seemed to be trickling in. As soon as I found my spot, a brassy twentysomething girl, hanging on her hot boyfriend, asked me to take their picture, which I happily did. Much to my dismay, she became my arch-nemesis, pushing hard against me as she danced wildly to the endless warm-up music, hours before Rihanna graced us with her presence. Finally, she asked if I could move over slightly. I did so. She took up that space and continued. I was at a loss...we really weren't even packed in yet.
Chris Brown is said to have peppered opponents during a recent, er, friendly basketball game with anti-gay slurs. His music career has broken records, but this pattern is also a broken record.
What's next, Brown beats a gay man to death with a shovel over the course of an hour while screaming "Faggot!" and later says, "I didn't mean any disrespect to anyone, my gay fans know I love them just the same"?