It's natural to draw a connection between the new allegations R. Kelly is facing and the news that the R&B singer has canceled four dates on his After Party tour, including one at the Music Hall at Fair Park on Aug. 13.
On July 17, Buzzfeed broke the story that Kelly may be operating some kind of sex cult, according to several former employees and the parents of young women who have associated with the singer. Now TMZ is saying Kelly's tour is suffering from poor ticket sales, and that's the reason for the canceled shows in Dallas; New Orleans; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and LA.
"His Friday night gig in Virginia was barely half full," the story says.
What TMZ doesn't mention, or perhaps know, is that Kelly was playing to half-empty venues before Buzzfeed's story, too. When Kelly played Gas Monkey in March, Observer reviewer Mikel Galicia used those words, "half-empty," to describe the scene at the 1,200-capacity venue and offered a few possible reasons for the poor showing.
"The low turnout may have been a result of the bad weather; or perhaps the show lost steam after the original date, Valentine’s Day, was canceled," he wrote.
While sex abuse allegations are a logical reason for fans to cease supporting a performing artist, or for an artist to take a show off the road, they probably didn't have much impact on the Dallas show. If Kelly drew only 600 people in March, it's hard to fathom why a date five months later would have been booked in the first place.
Kelly has sold 30 million records in his career, but even before this scandal, demand to see him live appeared to be fairly low.
It's also unlikely that these allegations would cause Kelly to retreat into shadows, or dissuade anyone who planned to attend the Dallas show, if his previous sex scandals — which include marrying a 15-year-old Aaliyah and urinating on a minor — had failed to accomplish the same.
“I just want to let all of my fans out there know that despite all of the crap y’all hearing, I will be coming to the East Coast to do my show," Kelly said in a video posted to TMZ, in which he vowed to continue touring. "And believe me, y’all, it’s a bunch of crap.”
Most people seem to have made their minds up about Kelly, and the group of fans we met at the show in March was small but devoted.
“Those allegations don’t bother me. Michael Jackson had a past, but Michael Jackson still did his thing,” said Victor Taylor, a fan of R. Kelly since his debut album. “I don’t worry about that kind of stuff. If you’re producing good music, I fuck with you, and he puts on one hell of a show.”
At Gas Monkey, the crowd even reacted positively when Kelly encouraged a woman to wipe sweat from his genitals onstage.
Dates in Detroit; Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Las Vegas and Ontario are still a go.
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