By Riley Manning
Stop, collaborate and listen, a lineup of classic ’90s-era pop acts including Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Salt-N-Pepa, Tone Loc and more will take the stage at the BancorpSouth Arena April 16 as part of the “I Love the ’90s” tour.
“We heard of them playing a venue in Texas, and that it was doing well, so we went after it,” said arena executive director Todd Hunt. “It seemed to really strike a nerve with the crowd there, and we thought they could do the same here in Tupelo.”
The artists have gone in wildly different directions since their heyday, but their songs have embedded themselves in pop culture forever, from “Funky Cold Medina” to “Gangster’s Paradise.” The tunes pop up in movies and commercials constantly, and Hunt said the nostalgia factor would be a driving force behind a large, diverse crowd of concert-goers.
“It resonates with a certain age group who remember this music from their youth or college days,” Hunt said.
In the past, Hunt said, the musical acts offered at the arena have been mixed, but predominantly from the country genre. The 2014 R. Kelly concert and this year’s first annual Sremmfest, among others, are evidence, Hunt said, of the arena’s efforts to constantly push it and land larger, more diverse acts.
“We’ve always gone after a wide range of shows, but we’re at the mercy of the acts as to whether they want to play here or not,” Hunt said. “We’ve finally got a few accepting our offers. In the concert industry it’s hard to say why anyone does anything, but I think it’s because we haven’t stopped.”
The arena is set up for each act according to how many seats are going to be sold. For instance, the R. Kelly concert was arranged for 5,000 seats, about half of its capacity. The average country act like, say, Brantley Gilbert, calls for around 6,000 seats, while a bigger act like Florida Georgia Line calls for around 8,000.
Hunt said the I Love the ’90s tour would anticipate between 5,000 and 6,000 in Tupelo.
“Individually, one of these acts might play a club of 500 or so people on average, but together, it’s a much bigger draw,” Hunt said. “With the reaction we’re getting, it’s shaping up to be much more than the sum of its parts.”
Tickets will go on sale Feb. 12 and will cost between $29.50 and $69.50.