Houston, Texas, July 6, 2002. I walked into the Compaq Center with my older sister and her best friend to attend Usher’s 8701 tour. As we took our seats, the anticipation and excitement began to build. You see, I have always loved Usher. I remember the first time I saw his video for “Think of You” in 1994. I was seven years old and you couldn’t tell me that he wasn’t singing directly to me. I’m pretty sure it was at that moment that I developed my first celebrity crush.
Now that you know my love for Usher runs deep, let’s get back to the concert. The lights began to dim, and Usher emerged looking like a fresh jar of caramel kisses flashing that million-dollar smile. ¡Ay Dios Mio! When he began to sing, I personally felt my heart jump out of my chest. I was completely mesmerized. Even as I write this, I am feeling those nostalgic butterflies all over again.
By the time Usher sang his fifth song, I was already putty in his hands. I had fallen into the rabbit hole and didn’t care to come out. Then it happened. The set changed to a bed on stage and Usher appeared in an all-white outfit. The romantic transition began and Usher starting singing “Bedtime”. Now I don’t know if you all are familiar with those lyrics, but I need you to go take a listen. Ya girl was staring wide-eyed as he sang with such precision, hitting every note flawlessly. This is where my weakness for male singers comes from. I’m telling you right now if a dude starts singing a song to me it’s a done deal.
Man, when that song ended and he climbed on the bed and started grinding and thrusting, as the intro began to “Nice and Slow” I lost it. Give me a towel because I was drooling. I felt a whole tingle down my spine as I watched and sang the lyrics to that song. Whew! I was on a high and didn’t think Usher could top that performance. After he performed “I Need a Girl” and “Twork it Out”, he came back with “U Got It Bad then backdoored with My Way”. The dancing was top notch as he glided across the floor sending the crowd into a frenzy, hell sending me into a frenzy. I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
As soon as the beat dropped, everyone went crazy. “You Make Me Wanna” had begun. Usher crooned and danced his way across the stage, just as smooth as he wanted to be. Vocals were like silk baby and there I was just cheesing like the Cheshire Cat. Then the dance break came. You know the one I’m talking about. Usher’s going and going just like the music video when he drops his pants exposing the black on black Calvin Klein boxer briefs he was wearing. He left them down for a lil’ minute, which is how I know exactly what brand they were.
Ya girl was peeping! I’m not ashamed to say it lol. Add that to the sweat dripping off of his chiseled six-pack and I was in heaven. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out. I remember my sister looking at me like WTF is really going on. Usher finished up the show with “U Don’t Have to Call” and a rendition of “What’s Goin’ On.” It was the perfect way to end a perfect show.
Almost 20 years later, that concert experience is still embedded in my brain. I have been a huge Usher stan ever since then and don’t see it changing it anytime soon. If his residency in Las Vegas is anything like my first concert experience, then I may be in some trouble. If you see me tryna climb on stage, just let me live!