There was a distinct high that cocooned the first Millennium Tour in 2019. It was a moment for girls-turned-women to travel back to a time when they were screaming teenagers who collected Word Up! posters. The boys we once fawned over had reminded us that they were grown men now, that time was simply a social construct. For all intents and purposes, a perfectly frozen moment in time was thawed out right when we needed.
Yet, at The Millennium Tour: Turned Up—the third installment of the concert series celebrating music of the 2000s—the high had clearly worn off. There were far less throwback jerseys and name-belts in the crowd than the first two editions. And judging by the mass exodus that took place during the show’s final set, fans may have had their fill of the sentimental era.
It’s been over 20 years since the Scream Tour franchise began, over a decade since it ended, and three years since it rebranded with B2K and Omarion. Following Bow Wow and Omarion’s co-headlining Millennium Tour in 2020, the latter went against Mario in a catastrophic Verzuz battle. The results of the jocular face-off led to Mario taking over as headliner for the Millennium Tour in 2022 alongside Bow and Keri Hilson. The penultimate stop on the now-storied nostalgic tour landed at the Kia Forum in Inglewood on the Saturday night after the Thanksgiving holiday. Billed with 15 acts—including Crime Mob, Day26, Bobby V, Lloyd, Pleasure P, and Scrappy—the audience was shocked to see the show start on time.
Despite Day26’s long-awaited reunion being filled with minor technical difficulties, the quintet powered through like the professionals they were molded to be. Their brief set prompted two questions though: when is their next Bryan-Michael Cox-produced album coming and why isn’t Making The Band available to stream? In hindsight, some parts of the concert should’ve been cut to make room for them to have a longer set.
As the crowd sang every word of hits including “Co Star,” “Exclusive,” and “So Good,” the arena transformed into a giant karaoke session where strangers became friends through a shared love of music. This infectious energy experienced a rapid incline as Chingy, Sammie, and Bobby V followed up with a medley of their respective classics.
The “Tell Me” crooner channeled his combative Verzuz energy as he declared, “n****s told me I couldn’t sing,” while finishing an acoustic run of “Turn The Page.” He was also the first act of the night to include background dancers, jumping off the stage platform as “Pimpin’ All Over The World” blared throughout the arena. To say he was doing a lot is an understatement. He ended his set with a mic drop after proclaiming, “‘Verzuz’ ain’t over. N****s can’t f**k with me.”
With similar exuberance, his RSVP bandmate Pleasure P used a movie trailer to usher in his set. Rocking a red fur coat, black leather pants, and a new blonde look before diving into his solo records, the Miami-bred singer branded himself the new “bad boy of R&B” with co-signs from Keith Sweat and Teddy Riley. The first surprise guest of the show was his brother, Spectacular, who aided him in performing their Pretty Ricky records “Grind With Me,” “Your Body,” and “On The Hotline.”
After thrusting the air and breaking out into a glisten, RSVP—Ray J, Sammie, Bobby V, and Pleasure P—recreated the “One Wish” viral moment from Verzuz before announcing their debut single, “Money Everywhere.” Their album’s release date was not announced.
Upon RSVP making their ludicrous exit, Lloyd emerged from the crowd to dispel the discrepancy between her being “5’ 2” and fine too” and to apologize on behalf of players everywhere with “Player’s Prayer.” Despite him skipping across the stage as though it was 2004, he may have been a bit too turnt considering he fell off the stage platform. He rebounded playfully, easing onlookers’ worries with, “If you laughed at that, then f**k you.” The true highlight of his set though, was the interpolation of Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “(Lay Your Head On My) Pillow” into his song “Lay It Down.” And even still, nothing was more shocking than Robin Thicke being his surprise guest.
Despite the brief escapism experienced with Thicke’s cooing of “Lost Without You,” the turn-up continued with the South taking over for the ‘99 and the 2000s. The Travis Porter-Crime Mob portion of the evening was evocative, transforming the room into a HBCU Homecoming afterparty. Between twerking in the aisles and all of us rapping along to “Knuck If You Buck” live as though it was a Sunday service, this is community personified. A personal apex was the present and the past coming together as Trillville performed “Some Cut” as their dancers hit Victoria Monét’s viral choreography.
Later, Lil Jon popped up for a few songs while the Ying Yang Twins dedicated their set to “the spirit of Takeoff.” By the end of their set, the high energy declined at lightning speed. It seemed that many people tuned out Keri Hilson and Mario, who are mostly known for their ballads. Even Mario’s featured guests Ty Dolla $ign and O.T. Genasis couldn’t reignite the show’s spark.
Bow Wow, the night’s main headliner, did his best to hype the crowd up with fan-favorites. His unfiltered 2005 diss track, “Fresh Azimiz,” was the perfect way to crank things back up. Dem Franchize Boyz—Parlae and Pimpin’—took centerstage to join Bow for a lively rendition of their collab, “I Think They Like Me (Remix)” sans Da Brat. The now-duo then performed their hit single, “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It.” As the child prodigy took us on a ride with timeless gems like “Take Ya Home” and “Bounce With Me” before his daughter, Shai in lieu of Ciara, appeared for “Like You.” It may have been inching towards the end, but the rap phenom kept his set confined to the strict midnight deadline.
Overall, the audience of screaming young women it once was isn’t enough to sustain this formula. Fans gravitated to the first tour because of B2K. Then, controversy enveloped their reunion and subsequent second breakup. Fans returned for the second go-round out of love for Bow and O’s Face/Off era. Songs like “Girlfriend” and “Let Me Hold You” summoned memories of MySpace pages, young love, and lighter times. However, there’s a limit to how many times this mold can be recycled. Many fans are weary of the ’90s/’00s samples in rotation on new records. It’s very hard to make something old feel new again especially with this wistful wave running rampant. Plus the Millennium Tour and events of similar nature have been reusing the same performers for years. While we still love a lot of these records, fans are annoyed by the stagnant time capsule.
Despite Bow alluding to a potential Millennium Tour IV in 2023, the concert series either needs to end or change—no in-between. There are so many artists to be called upon for a tour that celebrates the 2000s. Both Chris Brown and Ne-Yo can have full sets based on their debut albums alone. Call upon Ginuwine, Donnell Jones, Mýa, or Monica. The era of the heartthrob may be dormant with current acts, but it’s clear authoritative veterans can still sell out shows.
Another idea might be is to hone in on quality over quantity by having less acts on the bill. Nonetheless, this tour needs to grow up—its fans already have.