Shaggy Wins With The Hits At Brooklyn Bowl

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It’s hard to say exactly why I went to see Shaggy last night at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, other than to just say that as soon as I saw that he was performing, I knew I had to be in the building, somehow. In my defense, though, the pop-reggae icon doesn’t really come around all that often; he barely tours extensively anymore, keeping most of his shows spread out sporadically throughout the year and the world. Simply put, it’s hard to know when, exactly, you’ll get to see “It Wasn’t Me” performed live by the man who made it so damn famous to begin with.

To be completely honest, this wasn’t the first time I had ever seen Shaggy; back in December 2011, during The Roots’ Okayplayer Holiday Party, he inexplicably showed up wearing a suit with an ascot of some sort and performed “It Wasn’t Me” alongside Rahzel and Black Thought while holding some sort of alcoholic drink and swaying from side to side with his eyes closed. That was magical. Last night was similar, although with a lot more of a sexual, I’m-putting-the-microphone-in-my-pants-and-you-can’t-stop-me vibe from Shaggy. Maybe vibe is the wrong word, actually; it was more like an onslaught at times, as he humped vigorously along to the beat. There were times this was incredibly strange, and there were times where it just fit in perfectly. It was exactly what I expected a Shaggy show to be.

When I got to the show, Brooklyn Bowl—a decently sized venue, and one that is generally difficult to sell out on a weekday—was packed and full of people basking in all of the glory that is left from Shaggy’s mystique. Shaggy, returning the attention, said some fairly hilarious things to these people, including, “Can you feel the reggae heat?,” “”Can we get nuts right now?,” and “You gotta put some swag in that wag.” He even dished out some soulful, deep-from-the-heart advice: If you get caught red handed, do not handle it like Tiger Woods.

That last piece of wisdom came, of course, from the breakdown section of “It Wasn’t Me,” which will always be the high-water mark of any Shaggy show, no matter how much you like “Mr. Boombastic” or “Angel.” And the crowd was pretty obviously hanging on that one as well: after the song ended, a solid half of the crowd just turned around and walked out, leaving a half-venue full of die-hards and curiosity seekers hanging around to see what he’d do next. Admittedly, it wasn’t much, but right before he walked off stage, he did take a photo of himself from the stage with the crowd behind him, soaking in the lights and the glow and the adoration and the, well, half-empty bowling alley.

But it didn’t matter. In the end, I got what I’d come for: the opportunity to be a blurry background figure in Shaggy’s Instagram. Night complete.