I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Bill Graham // Critic
If you follow popular music, an artist you’ve undoubtedly heard of is Ludacris. This Grammy-winning, Platinum-selling rapper and actor has been spitting lyrics that not only make their mark as airwave hits but also have the staying power to be popular party tracks long after they come out. Although most of his success is focused on the early to mid 2000s, he still knows how to put on a show, as witnessed at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum on Tuesday night.
The show was brought to The Bomb Factory as part of a partnership with the Dallas Mavericks’ new event promotion wing known as “Another Mavericks Production,” which was evidenced by the slew of opening acts all wearing Mavs jerseys and even an interlude that included the Mavs ManiAACs dancing and getting the crowd riled up by throwing glow-stick jewelry and beads.
It was an entertaining affair as the crowd started to pack the venue as the headliner drew near. While it was unclear whether Ludacris typically tours without headliners and allows local artists to fill the slots, that certainly was the case here as Cure For Paranoia, Bobby Sessions, and -topic all represented local flavor from the Dallas area.
Even Mark Cuban was on hand to introduce Ludacris, who continually thanked the fans and the Mavs organization for the opportunity to light up the crowd on a work night. He joked that he was supposed to be off the stage well into the evening before trotting out yet another hit song to play to the packed house.
The rapper from Atlanta had a smooth ease with which he worked the crowd. He was all smiles throughout the night and while he didn’t talk much, he had some entertaining observations including the varied mix of people in the crowd. Nearly every major hit was run through by Luda during the night, including “Rollout,” “Area Codes,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Stand Up,” “What’s Your Fantasy,” “Act a Fool,” and even “Move Bitch” and “Get Back,” which set the crowd afire.
An interesting note was that each of the opening acts got a lengthy set to put their best foot forward and find a groove. These were 20 to 30 minute sets and it was -topic that really made an impression, sweating profusely but joking about it. Once his shirt came off it became apparent the artist was putting his heart into the show and he seemed to have a blast on stage, kickflipping on his skateboard and even doing a backflip during a guest spot on Cure For Paranoia that may not have had the smoothest landing.
Because of the lengthy build up, it was a blessing to have the Mavs behind the production. They kept the energy high and there was rarely a moment without the music bumping or the crowd being talked directly to by the MCs. That played out in an interesting fashion for Ludacris though as only a handful of his songs ended up being full versions. Perhaps that has more to do with the amount of hits and the fact that he tried to touch on them all. Just as you were getting into a groove for one hit, he’d transition seamlessly into another. He even bragged that his own set was lasting longer than it should but he was enjoying the energy of the crowd to simply call it quits without hitting his most popular songs.
The energy was high and he made use of the crowd throughout the night, at one point having the house lights turned down and asking everyone to bring out their lighters or cell phones to light the stage, which worked effortlessly.
What is clear is that the Mavs know how to put on a show and the more events they host, the better. They brought world-class talent, local flavor, and high-energy together for a single night that won’t soon be forgotten.