Dressed in a slim-cut suit, fedora, gold-rimmed sunglasses (so Hollywood!), and a glittering necklace that looked straight off the racks of your local mall’s Claire’s Boutique, Reed didn’t disappoint. Transitioning from innocuously poppy tracks to beats that could drop the bottom out of a truck, and snaking around his microphone stand like a displaced member of a Motown band, he sang much of his popular catalog sans Auto-Tune.
Interesting departure, considering from its inception, Wallpaper. was entrenched in the voice box. That same year, 2005, also saw T-Pain blessing/cursing the country by reinvigorating/disparaging Roger Troutman’s signature use of the Vocoder (“Computer Love”) with his debut album. Coincidence? Highly unlikely.
Reed flipped through his set rapidly, and maybe he wanted the audience to know that he really can sing. Though he came more alive when he switched into Auto-Tune for a riff on UC Berkeley graduates drinking IPAs before diving into a celebration of the alcohol/caffeine bomb Four Loko, he mostly kept his set serious. And dancing through songs like “Gettin’ Drip,” an ode to the collegiate practice of pre-partying, “I Got Soul, I’m So Wasted,” a weekend club-warrior anthem, and “It’s My Birthday,” a call for expected sex, Reed showed he actually can sing. Not that the crowd particularly cared; they just wanted to dance.
Which is, after all, Frederick’s point.