Last Saturday night, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City to see one of the most personally anticipated concerts of the year. I’ve been a fan of Kermit the Frog for a long time—he has easily been one of the most prolific frogs in American pop culture, but it’s been nearly three years since we’ve heard from Kermit after he was audited by the IRS.
Frankly, it was a surprise to me that after not paying his fair share of taxes in 2019, Kermit would still be willing to play his banjo in front of a live audience, but it seems Paul McCartney has that kind of sway on people. Kermit the Frog’s music has often been described as “smooth,” “reflective” and “anti-government spending.”
As someone who has heard of The Beatles, I had some background knowledge about Paul McCartney and his work going into this, and I was quite excited to see how he performed in front of a crowd. McCartney’s music has often been described as “sensational,” “spongy” and “patient.”
The doors opened at 2:30 p.m. to a raucous crowd at the Quarter Horse Theatre in Manhattan, a low-lit space with many weak lights. Fifteen minutes after I sat down, T-Pain came out to much whooping from the mostly sold-out crowd.
T-Pain opened the afternoon with the 2005 club classic “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” and then immediately went into an anecdote about having to go to the DMV to get his car registered last year, a story that went on for 20 minutes and resolved with T-Pain registering his car. The crowd was not very into this portion of the concert. T-Pain then proceeded to close his set with “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” and then said, “I gotta get back to the DMV, thank you Blue York!” In writing this, I would have assumed he said “New York, ” but it really sounded like “Blue York,” and also he raised one eyebrow after saying it like he did it on purpose and it meant something. Regardless, it was a very good set from T-Pain.
It was around 3:30 p.m. when Kermit and his house band finally walked on stage. Kermit the Frog opened his set by first praising long-time friend, T-Pain. “We first met in 2009 after the recession and have been great friends ever since. T-Pain has really been my rock through a lot this past year.” He opened with “Moving Right Along” and then went right into “Bein’ Green,” two of his most spongy tracks, and then Kermit said, “Everybody in the audience, please welcome 3-Pointer!”
Hip-hop music started playing and out came a dude in a red ninja mask holding a microphone. Kermit sat down at the edge of the stage and started smoking. I was unfamiliar with 3-Pointer and he wasn’t in any of the promotional art, so I unfortunately don’t know any of the names of the songs that he performed besides a pretty tight cover of “Hotline Bling.” The crowd was really into it, more into it than when Kermit came out. I would suggest that 3-Pointer looked vaguely like T-Pain in a red ninja mask, had T-Pain not already announced his DMV departure earlier in the show.
Kermit came back onto the stage and finished the set with “Rainbow Connection” as a duet with 3-Pointer. It started with him trying to figure out what key it was in, moving his green hand up and down the banjo. “That’s not it. That’s not it either. Wait, I was right the first time,” he said in his froggy voice. Kermit proceeded to leave the stage and then Paul came out.
McCartney started his set by thanking Kermit and T-Pain. He remarked, “We met after the 2009 recession, and have been the greatest of friends since. We just fell in love with performing together.” McCartney played what I later learned was “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and then he played it again, but this time with a 10 minute free jazz section in the middle.
After McCartney’s set, Kermit and T-Pain returned to the stage and they all ended the night by singing “We Are the World.” After a standing ovation, Kermit ended the show by saying that all the proceeds from the night’s show were to go to the Kermit the Frog Foundation for Dyslexic Youth.” This is something I would be excited about if Kermit was known for financial responsibility.
On the train ride back at five that afternoon, I reflected on this really epic collaboration of three musicians in their prime. Although McCartney, Kermit and T-Pain only played nine songs in total (3-Pointer played 10), it was nonetheless an excellent concert.