MANSFIELD -- They came, they saw, they screamed. Then they screamed some more. For nearly nine hours Saturday, a hearty all-ages throng made up mostly of teens and tweens braved raw weather and a day-long drizzle to cheer on more than a dozen playlist-favorite performers who trotted out as part of the KISS Concert 2007.
Not counting the assorted dancers, contest winners, and DJ's armed with leaf-blowers launching T-shirt s, this year's sold-out show featured no less than 16 acts of varying ephemeral celebrity who offered up equally varying measures of performance and self-promotion during their 15 - or 20 - minute turn in the spotlight. Marquee names like leather-lunged "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry (fronting his Creed-like eponymous hard-rock outfit, which closed the show), and his polar opposite, wee-voiced Hilary Duff (more brand name than singer, as her anemic half-hour set made painfully obvious), had a longer leash.
Duff's "Dreamer," a stupendously witless number that the ex-"Lizzie McGuire" star described as her "humorous" response to "a weird guy following me around," was neither funny nor fun. But then stalking isn't usually a subject that's a barrel of laughs. It was the long day's low point, although Omarion's lukewarm, musically shapeless set was a close second.
Against this limbo-low creative bar, Black Eyed Peas singer-turned-solo star Fergie easily stole the show, turning in a gaudy, galvanizing performance replete with saucy, flaunting showmanship, and paying tribute to the Peas with "My Humps." Flanked by a mock British royal color guard during "London Bridge," Fergie delivered a mix of frothy hip-hop-inflected pop and even showcased her vocal chops on a cover of Heart's classic "Barracuda."
Another cover, this one a torchy reading of Alanis Morissette's "Mary Jane" performed by "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee, was another highlight. Unfortunately, McPhee's vanilla soft-serves of the empty calorie confections "Dangerous" and "Over It," both from her 2007 self-titled debut, were not. Like McPhee, Rihanna sang karaoke-style R&B to canned music, programmed beats, and a phalanx of choreographed dancers. Her bell-clear voice and brassy attitude, however, carried her above the din on her new single "Umbrella," an apt accessory for the day. Meanwhile, emo heart-melters Dashboard Confessional and the rap-rocking, hip-hop hybrid Gym Class Heroes added guitars, edge, and musicianship to the mix.
"It feels so good to be close to home," chirped 16-year-old Boston-born JoJo during her early afternoon set. Eight years ago, JoJo recalled, she had attended the KISS 108 FM concert to see a teenage Britney Spears. Now, here she was, doling out text- message anthems like "Too Little, Too Late" and "How to Touch a Girl." Years from now, somebody in the screaming sea of future Britneys just might be saying the same thing.