“What happens in Charlotte stays in Charlotte.”
That was the mantra that Flo Rida and fans chanted back and forth Friday night at PNC Music Pavilion. He opened the third stop of the triple-headline tour with TLC and Nelly. And when he said “it’s goin’ down for real,” in his club hit “GDFR,” he meant it.
After trading his glittery gold vest for a Charlotte Hornets jersey, he adeptly hopped onto his security teams’s shoulders and made his way toward the lawn, passing out high-fives along the way. He rapped the entirety of “Club Can’t Handle Me” like that, then tested fans to see if they could actually handle him.
“What I want to know is which one of you ladies is gonna come on stage with me?” Flo Rida asked. The audience roared.
He invited about 20 women of all ages to join him for “Low,” and they had a mini party on stage. A few lucky ones received fake booty slaps during T-Pain’s famous hook. Fans who didn’t make their onstage debut received love, too. Flo Rida tossed a dozen roses to the audience during “Where Dem Girls At” as a “special delivery from the 305.”
The 39-year-old kept the crowd on their toes. After his final outfit change, he ran out with an entourage armed with Super Soaker water guns. They sprayed the audience without mercy, running backstage for water refills while special guest Gorilla Zoe passed out champagne bottles to front row fans.
“What happens in Charlotte,” Flo Rida prompted.
“Stays in Charlotte!” the crowd screamed back.
TLC kept the energy high with their ’90s hits. The duo rocked the amphitheater with classics like “Baby-Baby-Baby” and “Diggin’ On You” that even had security swaying and singing along.
Dancers with elegant butterfly wings glided across the stage for “Unpretty,” and the audience responded by filling the Pavilion with their voices, not missing a single lyric.
Chilli stole the show during “Red Light Special.” The 48-year-old performed a dance routine on a retro chair, outshining the two dancers on either side of her. She twirled and grinded while T-Boz sang lines that had couples dancing in the aisles and on the lawn.
Screams almost overpowered the brass solo that signaled the intro of “Creep,” but the introduction of “Scrubs” topped that.
“Auntie T and Auntie Chilli have something to say,” Chilli said, asking the young girls to listen up.
“You’re going to grow up and get your license and get your own car,” she continued. “And one day you’re going to be minding your business and come to a red light…”
Everyone cheered. Fans shouted the lyrics to the “Fanmail” classic, declaring that no men could holla at them from the passenger side of anyone’s ride.
The duo finished their set with “Waterfalls.” At the end of the song, three dancers walked to the front of the stage wearing backpacks with screens on the back. They turned around to reveal videos of the late TLC member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. The crowd erupted in applause.
“This is the time we like to dedicate to Left Eye,” Chilli said. “Everyone please put your flashlights up.”
The amphitheater grew 10 times brighter as they granted Chilli’s wish while the big screens displayed a young Left Eye rapping her “Waterfalls” verse.
After a short tech intermission, the Pavilion went pitch black, and the center-stage screen showed Nelly at a Complex interview. The crowd screamed so loud that his words were inaudible. The screen flashed with different iconic moments in the rapper’s career, showing a countdown in between images. When the countdown reached one, the cheers were deafening.
Nelly opened with “Party People,” then brought out Ali and City Spud to hype him for the rest of the set. The audience rang with a chorus of “uh-ooooohhh”s after he rapped “andele andele mami” during “E.I.”
“Charlotte, what’s hatnin?” Nelly asked. The crowd responded by chanting his name.
The St. Louis native performed 2000s chart-toppers like “Hot in Herre” and “Ride Wit Me.” During “Grillz,” he smiled while the audience sang the chorus, flashing gold caps on two of his right teeth.
Halfway through the set, a boy ran on stage dressed like early-2000s Nelly with two sweatbands on his head, a Band-Aid on his left cheek, and a black tank top that read “Property of Derrty Ent.” The mini-Nelly accused the 44-year-old of being a fraud, and pushed him offstage to show the crowd who the “real Nelly” was.
Mini Nelly danced to Jagged Edge’s “Where the Party At” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” popping, locking and spinning while the audience cheered him on. Nelly came back in a matching Derrty Ent. tank top, asking his mini-me, Jordan, if he could have the stage back.
J-Kwon made a special appearance to perform “Tipsy,” and Nelly followed with new songs “All Work No Play” and “Rubber Band.” Although the crowd wasn’t familiar with the lyrics, they caught the beat and bopped along, waving their hands when the tempo picked up.
Nelly closed the night with fan favorites. Kelly Rowland’s vocals were overpowered by girls in the audience during “Dilemma,” and the entire amphitheater rocked as the crowd jumped to “Just a Dream.”
The trio will wrap up their 21-stop tour on Aug. 31, and — in spite of Flo Rida’s proclamation — if what happened in Charlotte on Friday night also happens in the rest of the cities on the tour, those fans will go home happy, too.