FADER and vitaminwater’s uncapped performance series kicked off last night at LA’s American Legion Post 43, an active legion hall in Hollywood with high, arched ceilings that’s rarely open to the public. DJ Brenmar warmed up the crowd with a typically broad set of feel-good rap and dance. Zola Jesus, wearing a bright-white mini that glowed in the stage lights and a fur pelt vest, was the show’s first surprise performer, introduced by Hot 97′s Miss Info, who flew out to host. Having just returned from a tour through Australia, Zola showed off her enormous pipes as well as her seriously ripped Michelle Obama arms, performing big-beat tracks like “Vessel” with her hands outstretched. The crowd had a quick break to grab smartwater and Heineken from the bar before The-Dream appeared onstage, backed by a great live band that look like a 2012 version of Prince’s band The Revolution (one guy had glowing neon green strings on his bass guitar, which he wore on his back like a Ninja Turtle while multi-tasking on the synths). Crooning a collection of his hits without reserve, The-Dream grew more comfortable as he shed layers of clothing throughout the set. By the time he performed the unrelentingly raw “Used to Be” from last year’s 1977, he’d stripped away his heavy gold chain, jacket and sunglasses, like a dad loosening his tie after work. Anwar Carrots, the guy whose dreadlocks Tyler, the Creator shouts out on “Yonkers,” bobbed along to every song, closing his eyes and singing along at crucial moments.
But it was unexpected guest Rick Ross who really lit up the stage with an unprecedented, intimate set. When do you ever get to see the Boss at such close range? In an all black ensembled topped with impossibly glittery jewels, Ross was in a wonderfully talkative mood, introducing songs with haiku-esque preambles. Fans rapped along with “9 Piece,” “I’m On One” and “All I Do is Win” before Ross brought out new Maybach Music Group signee and former B2K frontman Omarion to perform their new single “Let’s Talk.” Maybach O ran from one corner of the stage to the other, sometimes dancing like he was walking on a tight rope, other times throwing in a pirouette. He air-humped into the all-smiles front row, constantly tugging at the belt of his jeans. Ross later said he and Omarion will drop an EP with MMG soon. Later, French Montana a veteran of 2011′s uncapped series popped up, reprising his and Ross’ recent Summer Jam performance of “Stay Scheming.” Before they went in, Ross grabbed French by the shoulder, delivering a papa bear monologue about coming-up. In a venue this small, it was almost surreal.
Head over to vitaminwater’s YouTube channel to see exclusive footage from the show. With more big-deal surprise performers, uncapped hits six more cities and two college campuses later this year. The venues at each stop will be small and special, and you won’t want to miss out—sign up for our mailing list now so you can be the first to RSVP when we get to your town.