Legendary hip hop performer Cee Lo Green arrived to sunny vibes and a haze of herbal fumes to headline this year’s Extravaganza, closing the annual music festival put on by A.S. Program Board with an unpredictably high-energy set infused with Motown, rock ’n’ roll and a couple surprise visits to anthems of the past.
The crowd seemed to be in a state of general comedown after Rusko’s array of intoxicating dubstep beats, and as 6 p.m. approached, a few attendees were already filing toward the exit, leaving behind those whose tastes extend beyond the electronic genre.
Just before the hour, Cee Lo took the stage to the opening riffs of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” backed by an undeniably sexy all-girl rock ensemble, seducing Harder Stadium back to its feet. A cover of Sabbath’s “War Pigs” followed, continuing the homage to classic rock which characterized the introductory portion of the set.
Though initially well-received, Cee Lo’s choice of a hard, unforgiving rock set seemed eventually to draw mixed reactions from the crowd. By the time he started his rendition of Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna be Your Dog,” the audience seemed either underwhelmed or slightly confused by the generational gap.
As if sensing these reactions, Cee Lo soon switched to a medley of hits from his solo album, crooning over the retro Motown soul of tunes like “Bright Lights Bigger City” and “Satisfied.”
Then, as if he had been toying with the crowd all along, Cee Lo launched into a fiery rock incarnation of the iconic Gnarls Barkley hit “Crazy,” sending the audience into a clamorous sing-a-long fervor.
Building upon the crowd’s energy, Cee Lo announced, “You’re gonna like this one,” and with a single piano roll entered into the chart-topping breakup anthem “Fuck You!,” which nearly every member of the audience joined in to sing during its signature chorus. No momentum was lost as “Fuck You!” segued into the intro of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” to which the crowd also eagerly lent their vocals.
Cee Lo drew the climactic aura to conclusion as his band of vixens, to whom the cameras had been nearly steadily fixed throughout, performed The Clash’s “Rock The Casbah,” over which he playfully sang the chorus of “Fuck You!”
He may not have put on the show that everyone expected from the headliner of Extravaganza, but at the curtain’s close, Cee Lo had successfully delivered a spectacular, engaging performance.
After the event ended, Cee Lo explained the nature of his rather eccentric set.
“I want to be the bridge between old and new, rock and hip hop,” Cee Lo said. “You don’t know Iggy Pop? I’ll introduce you to Iggy Pop.”
He went on to explain that The Lady Killer production wasn’t well suited toward a day festival such as Extravaganza, noting that “it’s more of an adult contemporary record, something you’d play after 7 p.m.” Assuredly, he noted, “All things considered, it was a great show.”
Still, even he jokingly suggested that
Rusko might have been a better closer for the festival, and offered some understanding for those who gave mixed responses in the crowd.
“We’re old school, we’re analogue,” Cee Lo said. “If I was trippin’ and having a good time, I probably wouldn’t want to listen to me either.”
Perhaps UCSB isn’t sober enough to wild out to Cee Lo Green.