The revelation that the Black Eyed Peas have fully transformed (or sold out) from underground hip-hoppers to full-on pop royalty is old news — to everyone, that is, but the Black Eyed Peas, who spent a chunk of what they called their “first headlining show in L.A.” schooling the audience in hip-hop logistics. Misnomers aside — the group has headlined shows around town in the last 11 years — the Peas beg to be commended for knowing they’re creating music that appeals to the widest aud possible. Shout-outs to African-Americans, Filipinos, Caucasians, students, felons, and just about any other group were greeted with rapturous cheers, while the actual songs launched auditorium-wide dancing.
But — and this is a huge but — it still doesn’t seem like the group’s heart is in this bouncy pop-hop. That presents a problem that isn’t apparent in the hundreds of local dance clubs that bounce to the Peas’ hits nightly. Whether they’re performing smashes like “Hey Mama” and “Let’s Get It Started” (here returned to the controversial original lyric “Let’s Get Retarded”) or emerging on their own for solo freestyle segments, the Peas appear unsure of their ability to let the music stand on its own. At one point, Fergie sang a song’s hook while executing one-handed cartwheels — impressive, sure, but a bit over the top.
Perhaps with a bit more polish and road time, the Peas will figure out how to make their various divergences — from out-of-nowhere break-dancers to a sample of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” — fit into a full party night for their fans. At this point, though, they still look like they’re trying on clothes that almost fit, but are a bit uncomfortable in all the wrong places.