Review: At Doja Cat and Ice Spice concert, a barrage of buttocks — and a fake-nail fail

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Pretty much from the start, it was all about the butt.

Or maybe not all about the butt. Butt certainly — oops, I mean, but certainly, anyone who was at Spectrum Center on Sunday night was confronted by a whole lot of posterior.

To a large extent, we’re talking specifically about the posterior belonging to Ice Spice, the 23-year-old rapper who has rocketed to fame in 2023 thanks to high-profile collaborations with Nicki Minaj (“Barbie World”) and Taylor Swift (“Karma”) — and in at least some small part thanks also, quite frankly, to her affinity for showing off her booty.

For the record, this was Doja Cat’s show. Her “Scarlet Tour” stop here Sunday marked the headliner’s first-ever concert in Charlotte, one in which she demonstrated her own hind-end-oriented proclivities.

There are, however, no ifs, ands or buts about it: When it comes to rump-shaking, Ice Spice is the reigning queen. For better or worse.

During the lead-off song in her opening set, Ice — sporting orange hair and pink eye shadow and dressed in fishnet, a black cropped hoodie, and a black sequined miniskirt so short that it revealed more cheek than it covered — got fans cheering first by twerking; second by slapping herself on the rear; and one more time before the end of her summer hit “Deli” by stooping forward and thrusting her hips from side to side to make it jiggle.

From there, she never let up.

At every obvious opportunity and then some, the 23-year-old hip-hopper spun on the heels of her fur-lined boots and gave the 14,000 or so fans in attendance an eyeful, the image of her backside simulcast onto the huge video screens flanking the stage each time.

Sure, her flow and the delivery of her rhymes on hits like “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2,” “Princess Diana” and “Barbie World” was impressive in a live setting. But while watching her make sweeping circles with her bottom was an amusing if not empowering sight to see the first several times, the law of diminishing returns applies here.

The format was basically twerk, slap, bend over, rinse, repeat. Ice Spice directed so much attention to her behind so often, in fact, that it all quickly became rather dull.

In the end, she was on stage for just 23 minutes. It felt longer than that.

Ice Spice performs at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on Sunday night.
Ice Spice performs at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on Sunday night.

(To make sure I wasn’t judging in a total vacuum, by the way, I shot a text to a female friend sitting a couple sections over asking what she thought of Miss Spice, without leading her in any direction. Her response? “Too much a-- for me.”)

So I was worried when Doja Cat appeared on stage just before 9 p.m. wearing a loosely similar ensemble: fishnet, black knee-high platform boots, a form-fitting black long-sleeved top, and black briefs that were almost (but not quite) as cheeky as Ice’s.

I braced for another barrage of buttocks.

As it turned out, Doja mercifully — for the most part — had other types of visual stimulation in mind. Laser lights, fog, visual effects, projections, lots of fire and a few fireworks shooting up from the stage, and red, red, oh-so-much red.

Although some in the crowd wore devil horns as a nod to the pleasure she takes in haters calling her a “demon,” the 28-year-old pop-rap star initially appeared on stage wearing a large pair of white angel wings on her back; and she kept them on while spitting out the lyrics for summer-of-2023 single “Demons,” the night’s second song, during which a metallic spider with eight red eyes, an articulating head, and a roughly 25-foot wingspan dangled above her.

Speaking of creepy set pieces, Doja Cat later rapped “Paint the Town Red,” the biggest hit off of the new album, while shadowed by a 7-1/2-foot eyeball with white legs, a green iris, and a looong optic nerve that disappeared up into the rafters.

She was also menaced periodically throughout the concert by a lithe, dead-eyed female contemporary dancer wearing a shredded red dress and covered in fake blood, while being protected by a predominately male cadre of dancers who showed up dressed in everything from blood-red hooded cloaks to funky recycled clothing to baggy cotton cargo pants.

Doja Cat, by the way, proved that she was able to hold her own with pretty much all of them.

The routines choreographed for her and her crew were both complex and captivating, incorporating full splits, folding chairs, a giant revolving stage ... and — in “Can’t Wait,” yet another song from her “Scarlet” album — an eyebrow-raising bit of simulated sex that ended with a tight focus on her hind end.

It wasn’t a completely isolated peek at her backside, either.

Despite splitting her set into five acts, she remained in her same outfit all night, meaning the lower halves of her cheeks were on display virtually anytime she wasn’t facing straight ahead. In other words, it’s not like Doja was being coy about shaking what her mama gave her. Not at all.

Doja Cat performs at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on Sunday night.
Doja Cat performs at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on Sunday night.

For instance, at the end of both her tropical-sounding re-arrangement of 2019 chart-topper “Say So” (which featured Nicki Minaj on the studio version) and 2021’s “Get Into It (Yuh)“ (which very much sounds like a song Nicki Minaj would record), Doja did as Nicki (or as Ice Spice) might do: She turned her back to the crowd and made her booty gyrate.

The difference, however, is that she was only truly “in-your-face” about it on a handful of occasions, while handling about four times as much stage time as Ice Spice.

If there’s room for improvement with Doja Cat, I’d say the show overall felt somewhat mechanical.

Her set was nicely structured and she gave a robust performance, but for an individual who leans so heavily into her individuality, she seemed to stick awfully closely to the script. Which is fine if her priority is consistency and polish. Fans seeking to feel a connection with Doja, though, may have left slightly disappointed.

For one, there was a huge buffer zone between the stage and the first row of fans — almost 15 feet — and it definitely created a sense of detachment. Doja Cat also didn’t seem to be making real, direct, specific eye contact with anyone in the audience, and on top of that, she stopped between songs only once to say something.

When she did, she really said not much of anything.

“I don’t know what to say other than I love that you guys made it here tonight,” Doja told the crowd after singing the sultry, laid-back “Often” (also off of “Scarlet”). She then shouted-out Ice Spice very briefly, pointed out that she was wearing a wig (black, with bangs, almost to her waist) equally briefly, and ... well, that’s pretty much it.

“I love you. Thank you.”

In fact, best I could tell, the only unscripted thing that happened on Sunday night involved not a wardrobe malfunction, but a fake-nail malfunction:

Right before her performance of “Often,” which Doja Cat would sing while standing at a mic stand at the front edge of the triangular stage, she bent over to grab one of the inch-long nails that had apparently fallen off. She came up without it, and so leaned over again. Then she affixed it over the top of the real nail on the middle finger of her right hand, flashing a crooked smile — and the bird, with that hand — as she continued the song.

Doja Cat performs at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on Sunday night.
Doja Cat performs at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on Sunday night.

But close-up shots that appeared on the video screen revealed the same hand to be missing two others. One, it seemed, was on the floor near the stool she’d settled into for the next song, “Red Room,” a cover of a jazz/funk track by the Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote. Doja scooped it up and put it over the nail on her right index finger. It didn’t seem to stay.

So, with thousands of cellphone lights twinkling around her, she showed us something way more interesting than her booty.

As Doja Cat crooned the most introspective song of the night, she showed what looked, very briefly, like disgust — suddenly and swiftly tearing off every remaining fake nail, and chucking them one by one to the ground.

Doja Cat’s setlist

1. “WYM Freestyle”

2. “Demons”

3. “Tia Tamera”

4. “Shutcho”

5. “Agora Hills”

6. “Attention”

7. “Often”

8. “Red Room”

9. “Balut”

10. “Gun”

11. “Ain’t S---”

12. “Woman”

13. “Say So”

14. “Get Into It (Yuh)“

15. “Need to Know”

16. “Kiss Me More”

17. “Paint the Town Red”

18. “Streets”

19. “F--- the Girls (FTG)“

20. “97”

21. “Can’t Wait”

22. “Go Off”

23. “Ouchies”

24. “Wet V-----”