published Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Riverbend crowd welcomes Cee Lo Green

Grammy Award-winning pop/R&B singer Cee Lo Green performs during the second night of the 2013 Riverbend Festival on the Coca-Cola Stage.
Grammy Award-winning pop/R&B singer Cee Lo Green performs during the second night of the 2013 Riverbend Festival on the Coca-Cola Stage.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
JUNE 7-15 • CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

Friday’s cool, Cee Lo says, but there’s just somethin’ about Saturday night —  especially late Saturday night, apparently.

The Grammy-winner closed the second night of the Riverbend Festival by taking the stage about 45 minutes later than the 9:30 p.m. scheduled start time.

As a jam-packed and antsy crowd griped on the lawn in front of the Coca-Cola Stage, Cee Lo finally did emerge, opening with his song “Bright Lights, Bigger City.”

“I come from down the road in Atlanta, Georgia, so I’m kind of like your cousin,” Cee Lo, wearing a black tank top, black shorts and two arms full of tattoos, told the crowd after the first song. “This is like a family reunion. I love reunions. I love cold beer and good food. So now that we’ve become acquainted, let’s dance.”

But the acquaintanceship palled quickly on some in the crowd — they weren’t ready for Cee Lo’s raw language or his taking tequila shots on stage.

“All the old white people are flooding to the exits,” one festivalgoer tweeted after Cee Lo brought his former band Goodie Mob on stage.

Stacey and Delanie Tillman were in the crowd in front of the stage. They’ve listened to Cee Lo since the mid-’90s and his Goodie Mob days. They like his older work, like “Soul Food,” as well as newer songs like “Hello,” a collaboration with T.I.

Stacey, 44, said he respects the performer’s versatility. The man can sing, Stacey said, and he can rap. He and Delanie, 43, watch Cee Lo on “The Voice.”

“I was curious to see him live,” Stacey said. “It always seems like he’s putting on a show when he’s on TV.”

This was the Tillmans’ first visit to Riverbend. They moved from Kentucky six months ago, and they decided not to come Friday night after it started raining.

Also in the crowd were 17-year-olds Tosha Boyd and Amanda Clarke.

They were excited to watch Cee Lo, at least more excited than they are for most Riverbend acts.

Boyd and Clarke want something that makes them move. If they could choose, they would pick My Chemical Romance or maybe Avenged Sevenfold.

Still, Cee Lo is pretty cool. Before Saturday, neither girl knew many of his songs, just the radio hits like “Crazy” and “Forget You.” But what they had heard, they liked.

Two hours before Cee Lo hit the stage, Kelly Parrott, of Ringgold, Ga., performed for an audience of about five. In front of her friends and daughter, Parrott sang “Pontoon” by Little Big Town on the karaoke stage.

Parrott shook her hips to the beat. Her girlfriends shrieked. A couple of men hooted.

An avid karaoke singer, Parrott said she loves to perform. But, she added, “Cee Lo is pretty good.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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