MANSFIELD — If there’s a singular lesson from this year’s edition of Jam’n 94.5’s annual Summer Jam concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, it’s that the punches must be rolled with. That includes both the small and predictable — as in finding some cohesion in the hectic procession of a dozen performers marched in and out for condensed, sometimes rushed sets — and the big and unexpected, this time in the guise of a storm rolling through the area.
Case-in-point: When the show was briefly halted due to safety concerns for those sitting exposed on the grass behind the amphitheater, sending audience members streaming under the roof for cover until the aisles were packed and nearly impassable, things could have turned for the worse. Instead, the addition of a few hundred soaked people answering the call of Lil Jon’s ignorance-par-excellence anthem “Turn Down for What” transformed it into the show’s blurry-eyed apex.
Indeed, Jam’n is nothing if not adaptable in its overall aesthetic. Whether due to Jam’n’s own discretion or the interpretation of its listeners’ tastes, this year’s lineup seemed skewed toward a slightly more mature crowd. The standout young emcees, Kendrick Lamar and YG, offer realistic, often harsh depictions of their native Los Angeles rather than gaudy champagne fantasies. And demographic-wise, Jennifer Lopez, Juicy J, and the aforementioned Lil Jon each took the stage with their biggest hits over a decade old, respectively. For those who beat the Friday traffic rush to arrive early, there was a flash of good things to come with brief sets by local rappers Moufy and Michael Christmas. Ty Dolla $ign and Tinashe also made the most of their quick time slots.
Both Kendrick and YG gave convincing appraisals of their talents, bringing a fresh perspective and sound to familiar Compton-born source material. The former, dressed in jeans and a pale denim button-up, rattled off tracks from his landmark debut, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” with “[Expletive], Don’t Kill My Vibe” wrapping lyrics rife with introspective anxiety in a warm, languorous instrumental. But he tellingly finished with the menacing bang of “Mad City,” making for a natural transition to YG’s more aggressive material. His explosive chemistry with producer DJ Mustard on “BPT,” “I Just Wanna Party,” and smash single “My Hitta” was impressive, though he and Kendrick disappointingly didn’t link up for their searing collaboration “Really Be.”
After Lil Jon’s brief detour into EDM rave territory, Lopez delivered the night’s most polished performance, dipping and rolling her famous figure with a crew of dancers cavorting around her and a full band supporting, though the 44-year-old’s new single “I Luh Ya Papi” drew a lukewarm response compared to early career hits. She should have been the final act, as the show’s star power fizzled with closers B.O.B. and Kid Ink.
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