BOSTON—As if putting Maroon 5 and LL Cool J on the same lineup didn’t sound random enough, imagine adding John Edwards and Barack Obama to the mix.
The politicians showed up at a concert organized by Rock the Vote and Time Warner on Thursday, the last night of the Democratic National Convention, and were greeted like rock stars just as much as the actual musicians were.
Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, appeared on stage with his wife, Elizabeth, and 22-year-old daughter, Cate. He shook hands with the members of the rock band Maroon 5—which had just finished the first song of their set—and gave the shrieking, mostly twentysomething audience the thumbs-up sign.
“This event tonight—it looks like a concert. It sounds like a concert and it smells like a concert. But it is a cause,” he told a couple hundred people at The Roxy, a former 1920s ballroom that’s now a nightclub in Boston’s theater district.
He and his wife also had some news to share: “As of a little over an hour ago, we’ve now been married 27 years,” Edwards said just past midnight before leaning over to kiss his wife on the cheek.
At the end of his remarks, he said the three magic words—Rock the Vote—prompting confetti and red, white and blue balloons to float down from the ceiling.
Earlier in the evening, Obama—the Illinois Senate candidate who made such a splash this week with his keynote address—made a surprise appearance. The crowd responded, as they had at the FleetCenter, by chanting his name.
“This is the only stop I’m making before I hit the bed,” he said, drawing hoots and cheers.
But since this was a concert, there was in fact music played.
Maroon 5 performed several songs from their debut album, including the catchy hit “This Love” and the rocking, funkier “Harder to Breathe.” Lead singer Adam Levine, pogoing his lanky body across the stage, slowed down for the mellower “She Will Be Loved,” explaining that the quintet had to play the song because Cate Edwards told them it was her favorite.
Before that, LL Cool J once again demonstrated the benefits of going to the gym in a set that was half rap performance, half wet T-shirt contest.
He bounded on stage dressed in an oversized, red-and-white warm-up suit and a Boston Red Sox cap. But soon the jacket came off, exposing his muscular, tattooed biceps. Then he opened a water bottle and poured its contents into his mouth and onto his white tank top—and it wasn’t long before that piece of clothing also was history.
Oh, and he rapped too—treating the audience to new material before busting out some old-school classics, including “Around the Way Girl,” “I Need Love,” “Rock the Bells” and “Mama Said Knock You Out.”
LL Cool J, who’s long been involved with Rock the Vote, ended his lengthy set with this political proclamation: “I’m not endorsing anybody until I meet with them face to face and they explain to me what their plans is, plans are,” he said. “I’d be happy to meet with any candidate . . . but that’s not an endorsement until I say it’s an endorsement.”
Among the celebrities watching from on high in a VIP balcony: Alyssa Milano (dressed in a crisp white pants suit with a white flower tucked behind her ear), Leonardo DiCaprio, Sway from MTV News and—you guessed it—Ben Affleck.