NEW YORK — Thanks to the miracle of editing, viewers who watch the Condé Nast Fashion Rocks concert on Fox on Sept. 26 will no doubt see a seamless, high-energy show packed with ecstatic fans. (Condé Nast is a unit of Advance Publications Inc., parent of WWD.) But at the taping of the concert Wednesday night, there was more than a bit of grumbling in the seats. To be sure, the lineup was as star-studded as they come, with tight sets by Beyoncé Knowles, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Avril Lavigne and others, and celebrity presenters including Venus and Serena Williams, Tommy Hilfiger, Marilyn Manson and Stella McCartney. But none of the performances lasted more than two or three songs, and in between there were long, l-oooong stretches of downtime for set and costume changes. Several presenters, including Venus Williams and Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child, had difficulty reading the Teleprompter and needed several takes to get their lines right, while host Denis Leary had to reintroduce Blige after uttering a four-letter word the first time around. (Note to organizers: Why hire Denis Leary if you don’t want him to work blue?) When Usher came on toward the end of the program, a group of underage models in the balcony postponed their cigarette break long enough to capture the moment with their camera-phones. Soon after, when André 3000’s set wrapped up sometime after 11, there was a rush for the exits, even though there were two acts still scheduled to perform.
Despite the event’s frustrating pace, the after-party at the Rainbow Room managed to draw a lively crowd. On the elevator ride up, one tuxedo-clad partygoer with a lanky Eastern European model dangling from his arm offered his own critique of the concert: “Just play the classics, OK? I don’t want to hear you promote your f—ing album. Just give us the good stuff.”
— Jeff Bercovici