Barclays was probably 10% full when Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy took the stage to introduce the concert's opening act, Jidenna. ("He always makes me feel underdressed," said Charlamagne.) Indeed, Jidenna was looking dapper as hell, as was his sidekick, who was less a hype man and more of a backup dancer/leprechaun. Jidenna wore a crisply tailored three-piece suit, plenty of hair product, and some fabulously outlandish socks.
Jidenna had solid energy but his efforts to excite a nearly empty arena were mostly in vain. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the evening's performers brought their own live drummers, and Jidenna's was one of the best.
He performed three songs, and in between each song he shared a life lesson/koan that helped put the following song in context. He was careful to remind the crowd every few seconds that he is a Brooklynite himself. After song #2 ("Long Live the Chief"), he gave a rather long-winded speech in honor of his drummer's fallen friend. He uncorked the top of his cane, which apparently contained a secret liquor reserve, poured a bit out, and took a swig. He advised the crowd: "keep your glove dirty and your hands clean" and then launched directly into "Classic Man," at which point the energy in the arena immediately intensified by a factor of 10. Goosebumps arose on my arms as he finished his brief set by leading the crowd in a moving a capella sing-a-long of the "Classic Man" chorus.
Barclays was up to about 20% capacity when Omarion took the stage, introduced by his hype man Caesar, who could have passed for Omarion's twin. Omarion's command of the stage was absolute, but like Jidenna's performance, the fact that 80% of people hadn't showed up yet prevented his set from being truly lit.
He opted for a medley approach, performing a series of abbreviated songs, most of which were relatively new, with the occasional throwback to his B2K days (e.g. "Bump Bump Bump). He seemed to relish "Post to Be" in particular.
Jeremih's entrance was the first time Powerhouse 2015 was a true lituation, for two reasons -- the crowd had now swelled to 80% capacity, and Jeremih's stage personnel more than matched the crowd's energy. His DJ rattled off gratuitous air horn combos, his two sexy backup dancers twerked up a storm, his drummer thundered away in the corner, and his hype man was nothing short of outstanding. Jeremih might have the best hype man in the game.
Jeremih was fortunate that the arena was suddenly so electric, because his stage presence was rather understated, a sort of "casual cool." His set was twice as long as Omarion or Jidenna's. He performed a dozen or so of his biggest hits, running the gamut from "Somebody" to "Don't Tell Em" to "Planes." Natalie La Rose and K Camp both made respectable but ultimately forgettable one-song cameos.
Jeremih's set had two highlights. The first came around the half-way point when he retreated to the keyboard for a sultry rendition of "Birthday Sex." As it turns out, your boy is nice on the keys!!
The second highlight: towards the end of his set, Jeremih brought out 2 Milly and his crew to perform "Milly Rock," and the Brooklyn crowd went absolutely bonkers. The Milly Rock has experienced some viral Vine success but is beloved nowhere more than in New York City. Jeremih tossed hots into the crowd as the Milly dudes did their thang. You could tell they were pumped to be there because they were all taking selfies on stage.
By the end of Jeremih's set, the crowd was fully torqued. Overall the energy level of Powerhouse compared favorably to that of Summer Jam, a difference that comes down to the relatively intimacy of a 20,000-person arena versus that of an 80,000-person open air stadium.