The only thing missing behind the scenes at Britney Spears' Circus tour is a clown car. And who knows, maybe they've got one of those hidden around here somewhere ...
Minutes after Britney and her entourage arrived (at precisely 6:32 p.m. local time, btw) in a fleet of black SUVs, I was escorted through a labyrinth of corridors beneath the New Orleans Arena, past stagehands pushing platforms, dancers limbering up, crates of wardrobe, stressed-out makeup techs and stern-looking security guards to the nerve center of the entire operation: Britney's dressing room.
Of course, no photos were allowed, and I wasn't even here to talk to Britney ... I was there with the night's opening act, the Pussycat Dolls.
The Dolls were a bit tired -- after all, they had just flown in from Eastern Europe last night, and they were still working the kinks out of the evening's routine -- but I managed to ask them about the challenges of performing on an “in the round” stage, which gives the audience a 360-degree view of the action.
"The problem is, someone in the audience always has a view of your heiney," lead Doll Nicole Scherzinger explained.
Good to know. And while we'll have more on our chat with PCD tomorrow, I have to jet ... we're being led up to the press box right now. Looks like the Circus is about to begin!
In the shadow of the Louisiana Superdome sits the New Orleans Arena, the place where Britney Spears has pitched her tent.
It's the opening night of her Circus tour, and though doors don't open for roughly three hours, throngs of Brit's disciples — all decked out in their DayGlo finest — are already lining up for the big event.
Some have been here since 10 a.m., in fact — groups of fans from nearby towns like Lafayette and places like Jackson, Mississippi, each clutching homemade signs, singing Britney tunes, having impromptu dance-offs and letting anyone within earshot know that "it's Britney, bitch."
Justin, a 16-year-old from right here in New Orleans, wears a customized Britney jersey (his name is embroidered on the back) and swears he's her biggest fan. He's seen her on all of her tours (and had tickets for her Onyx Hotel show before it got canceled — he's not mad at Britney for that, btw) and is beyond pumped for tonight.
"It's going to be magic. This is Britney coming back," he enthuses. "I am so excited."
The early morning hours can be a bit lonely around here. Waking up before the sun, I sometimes shake off the cobwebs hours before the news does. Which is why I love Kanye West.
When in doubt, I can always click over to his blog and find pictures of Japanese-food-cooking robots, lamps that look like clouds, or sketches of the stage for his next tour and a personal thank-you from 'Ye for making 808s & Heartbreak the #1 album. Instant news!
" 'Love Lockdown' has sold 1.3 million so far on iTunes and 'Heartless' and 'See You in My Nightmares' sold over one hundred thousand each last week," West announced on Wednesday.
Even better, the never-shy rapper turned crooner predicted that "this is only the beginning," saying that his move into singing is "a new frontier for me and music. All the mixed opinions [We're looking at you, 50 Cent] will be over by next summer when I'm closing festivals and everyone is singing okaaay … okay. Okaaaaayee .. You'll never stop it now!!!! You'll never stop it now!!!! Or you worried bout the wrong things, the wrooong thiiings!!!!"
As for the sketch, Kanye just gave us a taste, with a banner at the bottom of the page that cryptically reads "ext stage for next tour! Tentatively titled ... Ye vs. th." And that's it. The stage setup, from what we can tell, looks like a glowing white disc surrounded by pyramid-like columns that bend in toward the middle. My guess at what the production is called? "Ye vs. the Volcano." Please, please let me be riiiighttt!!!!
By Whitney-Gayle Benta
Like my colleagues Rahman, Shaheem, Erica and Yasmine, I have many fond memories of Kanye West's early days as he transitioned from producer to musician. The story that sticks out the most was during his first tour.
In 2004, the same year Kanye released his debut album, The College Dropout, he was also asked to join Usher's the Truth Tour as the opening act.
By Tami Katzoff
The Beastie Boys (along with Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Santogold, Ben Harper, Tenacious D, and Crosby & Nash) are about to bring their music and their message to some key battleground states leading up to the big election on November 4. The Get Out and Vote Tour kicks off on Monday and wraps just a day before the election. The Boys said, "This is the most important election of our lives," so they want young people to know that every vote matters.
Two flamboyant tours stopped in New York City last weekend: Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour and Of Montreal's latest stage show. Both artists share a flair for the dramatic, elevating their concerts to epic theatrical extravaganzas. But there's one major difference: ticket price. The best seats at MSG went for $350, while Of Montreal charged only $23 for general admission at Roseland Ballroom!
So any Madonna fans out there who are strapped for cash, here's why you can — and should! — check out Of Montreal's latest gigs and still get a Madgetastic show for a fraction of the price. Here's a breakdown of which show is better at what:
Madonna: Lots of black. Lots of top hats. Lots of shorts. Also, there's whatever this is.
Of Montreal: Frontman Kevin Barnes dresses like a cardinal! Then, he's a minotaur! He's in a bikini bottom! He's wearing a giant fanny pack! He's covered in fake blood! He's smothered in whipped cream! He's dressed like Prince! Shall I continue?
Advantage: Of Montreal. Half the fun of a Madonna concert is seeing what she's decked out in, but her latest wardrobe is a far cry from the Gaultier-designed Blonde Ambition garb. Stick with Of Montreal's wild and outrageous "WTF ARE THEY WEARING?!?" appeal.
By Daniela Capistrano
Prince fans have something new to look forward to this month: His first official book!
"21 Nights", a photographic essay about the singer's European tour last summer, co-created with photographer Randee St. Nicholas, is a lavish collection of photos, poetry and music that offers a rare glimpse into the life of one of the world's biggest stars.
The singer performed two intimate benefit shows in New York on Friday night to help promote the book's release.
Fans can peruse more than 100 never-before-published images from his sold-out 21 concerts while listening to Indigo Nights/Live Sessions, the exclusive CD that is included with the book and features 15 live recordings along with one new song. The 77-minute CD attempts to invoke the spirit of his raw after-show sessions while providing a soundtrack for the reader. Fans can follow Prince on his journeys through London and Prague, sharing in escapades with his band of musicians, singers and dancers captured in full color and black and white. The book provides an intimate look at what life on the road is like for one of music's biggest stars — from the frenetic pace backstage to his solitary moments in hotel rooms.
Juxtaposed within these scenes readers will also find poetry written by Prince, pieces that touch on a multitude of inspirations: love, the nature of desire, our current political climate, the price of fame and more. The poetry provides a dreamlike narrative that borders on stream-of-consciousness and is, not surprisingly, similar in theme to the lyrics of many of his songs.
Check out our sneak peek at five images from "21 Nights" after the jump!
FROM YOU R HERE: Swedish pop star Robyn is currently on tour in Europe, entertaining fans on Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour. Luckily for us, she's found time in her busy schedule to pick up a camera and show us around backstage and on the road.
Check out Robyn's backstage videos over on MTV's You R Here, and keep coming back for more as the tour rolls on …
By Matt Elias
It seems like every time I catch up with Maroon 5 they're about to head out on tour, and the situation was no different last week. Band members Adam Levine and James Valentine were kind enough to give us a few minutes of their time while prepping for their North American jaunt with Counting Crows.
Marooned in a studio near Los Angeles, the guys rehearsed on a fully rigged stage (exactly how it will appear on tour) complete with TONS of lasers — and you can never have too many lasers, as James pointed out. "I want to have them shoot out of my guitar!" he said.