Local radio station 99.7 (Now!) upped the ante for its annual Triple Ho Show this year -- from the lineup to the venue to the crowd.
While last year's affair offered up moderately appealing acts like Owl City and Psy at the San Jose State University Event Center, the 2013 concert brought some 10,000 fans out to see such big-name acts as Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias perform at the SAP Center in San Jose.
The concert was not without its problems, yet still served as notice that the Triple Ho has joined the ranks of the Bay Area's top holiday-time radio-station-organized concerts.
One of the biggest drawing cards was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the hot hip-hop duo that has catapulted to fame thanks to "Thrift Shop" and other hit singles as well as the successful debut full-length album "The Heist." The duo also performs Saturday at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, in a show that sold out ages ago.
Rapper Macklemore and DJ/producer Lewis delivered a lively short set at Triple Ho, although it wasn't quite enough to dispel thoughts that the clock is ticking on the duo's 15 minutes of fame. It's a shame, since the pair have shown such range in the studio -- from the novelty number "Thrift Shop" to the topical piece "Same Love" to the dance anthem "Can't Hold Us." Yet, the duo's live show just isn't anywhere as exciting as its recordings.
The concert had a couple of ringers in the lineup -- Pitbull and Iglesias -- but organizers only gave one of them an opportunity to truly shine.
Iglesias was, by far, the most talented entertainer on the bill. Yet he appeared surprisingly early in the show, sandwiched between Oakland native Zendaya and Justin Bieber wannabe Austin Mahone. I'm not sure in what universe Mahone gets a better slot than Iglesias, but it's clearly not one that appreciates good music.
Still, Iglesias made the most with what he had. He sounded terrific as he crooned through a four-song, 15-minute. That's not surprising, since Iglesias -- a man who has sold over 100 million records in his career -- is typically dynamite onstage.
As for Mahone, his mercifully brief set only illustrated he has a ways to go before his songs are as appealing as as his haircut.
After Macklemore and Lewis, Pitbull took the stage and the party really took off.
It must be fun to be Pitbull. His world appears to be all slick suits, pricey sunglasses, free drinks and bikini-clad dancers. The image belies how hard the man has worked to become, and stay, a star.
He's a fine rapper, who (like countless others) borrows liberally from the Book of Jay Z, but he's an even better entertainer. He's absolutely dedicated to making every show the best night of his fans' lives.
I don't know if he accomplished that on this evening, but he certainly gave it his all. He moved about the stage with passion and purpose, running through each of his songs like it was the opening number at the Grammy Awards telecast.
The concert also featured a fairly impressive outing from Oakland's own Zendaya, the former "Dancing with the Stars" runner-up who is now turning heads as a pop star.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.