TLC has made being crazy, sexy and cool look easy for nearly three decades. It’s been 27 years since their iconic album CrazySexyCool climbed the charts, making them one of America’s top-selling female groups of all time. Now they’re back on the road to commemorate their diamond-certified album with fans such as those who showed up ready to party with the band Tuesday night at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory.
In June, TLC surprised fans by announcing their national "Celebration of CrazySexyCool" fall tour would be kicking off in early September. Initially, the 18-city tour was set to coincide with the album's 25-year anniversary mark but had to be put on hold indefinitely due to COVID-19. After a year and half of uncertainty, the group took to the road with an even greater appreciation for being able to perform again.
Ahead of their Irving show, we spoke with TLC’s Chilli over the phone while she was on the road. The singer talked about what this tour means to the group, how it feels to perform following the pandemic, how CrazySexyCool skyrocketed groundbreaking careers and what’s up next for the girl group.
It’s no secret T-Boz’s raspy voice, Chilli’s smooth high notes and Left Eye’s raw, confident raps — along with their “prissy tomboy” style — set the group apart from the many clone groups and one-hit wonders of the '90s. Chilli says they’ve remained relevant for nearly three decades because their lyrical content resonates with their fans.
“None of our songs are preachy, but they do make you think, and we’re happy people of all ages can relate to it,” Chilli said. “We all honestly go through the same things, some more than others, and it’s something very powerful about music when you’re going through good or bad times.”
After TLC’s debut in 1992, their following grew rapidly as fans fell in love with their “girl from around the way” vibe, empowering music and iconic fashion trends that redefined what sexy can look like. When their biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story first aired on VH1 in 2013, they gained a whole new generation of fans. This was a full-circle moment for Chilli, who always believed the group's impact would be huge.
“Not from a narcissist place at all, but I told them there was going to be a movie about us one day after looking at our pictures during photoshoots,” she said. “And this was before half the stories you saw even happened. They didn’t believe me, but I knew something was special about us.”
The Celebration of CrazySexyCool tour honors the work that changed the trajectory of their music careers and proved the naysayers wrong.
“This album showed that we weren’t just a fad but that we had the chops and talent to stay," Chilli said. "It really let you see our chemistry as a group and how we worked so well together.”
The band is anxiously anticipating the celebration of their 30-year anniversary milestone, but in the meantime, they are working on two projects that will include new TLC music and working on a two-hour documentary called Biography: TLC that will debut on A&E next year.
“It’s such a blessing to still have fans that still tell us how our music touches them," Chilli said. "Just know when you see me smiling on stage, Chilli is just happy to be on it."
The pandemic is still haunting live music fans. About 24 hours ahead of TLC's Irving concert, promoter Live Nation notified all ticket holders that they'd need to present a vaccination card or negative COVID test results from within the last 72 hours to enter the venue. Some ticket holders who missed the memo stood shocked and frustrated outside of the entrance. Some said they were vaccinated but left their card at home, while fans who weren’t vaccinated pondered whether to pay $40 to take a rapid COVID test offered onsite or else skip the show.
The concert date had already been pushed back from Sunday, Oct. 3, due to minor health concerns related to singer T-Boz, so the venue wasn’t entirely packed out.
After openers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony warmed up the crowd with classics such as "1st of tha Month," "Thuggish Ruggish Bone," "Tha Crossroads" and more, TLC’s DJ Dubz hit the stage around 8:45 p.m. and got the anxious crowd out of their seats while the band got in place.
Fifteen minutes later, pictures of the group that included late group member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes — who died in a car crash in 2002 — appeared on all stage screens as TLC made its entrance from the top of the stage. T-Boz and Chilli kicked off the show in orange and maroon silk pajamas, performing their No. 1 single, “Creep.” T-Boz’s seductive voice soothed the crowd as seemingly every audience member sang along.
The pair followed up with "Hat 2 The Back" from the debut album Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip and settled in with "Kick Your Game" and "Girl Talk." There were many dance breaks throughout the night, especially during Left Eye’s verses. The high energy delivered by the background dancers made it feel like a carefree house party. Lead by TLC, fans danced along to trending TikTok moves, which showed how in tune they are with their younger fans.
The group left the stage for a costume change and returned in black and silver shimmery outfits. They kept up the momentum as they performed "Ain’t Too Proud To Beg" and "What About Your Friends" before pausing for a moment to speak to the young girls and women in the audience, to remind them that having "No Scrubs" is better than settling.
The energy of the crowd relaxed during the pair's next set as they began singing "American Gold," which was dedicated to frontline healthcare workers and U.S. soldiers — accompanied by videos and pictures on the screen. They kept it calm with "Unpretty," "Red Light Special," "Digging on You" and "Baby-Baby."
They ended the night with a dedication to Left Eye Lopes as they performed their other No. 1 single, "Waterfalls."
“We have to dedicate this one to our sister Lisa because this was her favorite song,” T-Boz told the audience before taking in the sound of fans loudly and passionately rapping Left Eye’s verses. After the song, Chilli and T-Boz walked gracefully across the stage talking to fans directly for several minutes, thanking them for showing up and for showing out.