The turnout looked Lil'est
Published: Tuesday, June 1, 2004 at 4:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2004 at 4:48 p.m.
The Lil' Kim show reminded me of waiting for a bus.
In fact, it was.
They waited for a bus carrying Fabolous. He broke his ankle at a celebrity basketball game in Miami and never showed. Fans waited two hours past the advertised showtime before the day's first act went on. The faithful stood near the small stage set-up on the infield, near the back stretch of the Ocala Speedway. They were sweating, waiting, burning, checking then rechecking watches and glancing at their brethren to make sure their misery had company.
Judging by the meager size of the crowd, advertising for the event must have aired on the government access channel. Promoters had anticipated a crowd of 10,000, but a group of around 300 greeted Kim when she walked on stage, without any opening act.
Promoter Robert "Bobby" Tillander said 600 attended. He needed 4,500 people to show up to earn back the $200,000 spent to produce the concert.
"I've been here for five, almost six years and during that time all I've heard from people around Ocala is people calling this town "Slow-cala," Tillander said, defending his decision to bring big league hip-hop to an area used to nothing more than the occasional country act. "I don't think this town believed we could bring this caliber of show ... The people of this area have been let down so many times before by other promoters, they didn't believe somebody was going to actually bring Lil' Kim and Big Tymers to Ocala."
Rumors that Lil' Kim's recent arrest on perjury charges would force her to cancel might have hurt, Tillander added.
In anticipation of a larger turnout, there seemed to be more police and security present than fans. About a dozen Marion County police cars, a handful of turbo-powered golf carts and at least two bicycle-mounted officers roamed the Ocala Speedway property. Memorial Day would have made the perfect time for a bank robbery in Ocala because all the cops were at the show.
No arrests were made at the speedway .
Sound technicians never bothered to turn on amplifiers they had set up about halfway back from the stage. Lil' Kim played for about 40 minutes, and Big Tymers stayed on stage for even less than that.
The show started late because, according to Tillander, "Lil' Kim is an airhead and she missed her plane." The Big Tymers bus broke down, he said. "Anything that could go wrong, went wrong."
Nonetheless, Lil' Kim spat her rhymes in time and with clarity. Her performance was impressive because she sounded as smooth on stage as on any CD or video. She talked one on one with the audience and that made the show more intimate, but that was easy since the entire audience spanned no more than 20 feet from the stage.
The crowd received Big Tymers with greater enthusiasm than they had Lil' Kim. That could be because the sun started to set or that the crowd took a few minutes to get amped after waiting five hours since the gates opened to fans. The ice-clad group got the intimate crowd jumpin' with their bass-thumping, fist-in-the-air jam "Get Your Roll On," as well as more recent hits like the R. Kelly-penned "Gangsta Girl" and the melodic closer, "Still Fly."
Here is the play-by-play backstage:
"Are we waiting because they didn't get paid?" says one anxious fan.
I'm sure it's not that, but they do take a percentage of the door, which at this point can't be much. The rumor circulates that Fabolous won't be opening. KIm might go on first.
"The guy with the ball cap and beard?" he asks. "He walked over there."
That's how quaint this show was. The guard at the gate actually remembered who I walked in with after the show had ended.
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