Timberlake performs at surprise show in New York
“I did a country song,’’ Justin Timberlake said Wednesday night, addressing a rapt audience packed into his New York restaurant, Southern Hospitality, “I just disguised it as something else.’’
And with that, Timberlake, in a straw fedora and playing an acoustic guitar, and backed by members of the Memphis band FreeSol, launched into a softer version of his chart-topping 2002 hit “What Goes Around . . . Comes Around,’’ in front of an enthusiastic crowd that included newlyweds Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.
The performance of “What Goes Around . . . Comes Around’’ came in the middle of a surprise set from Timberlake and FreeSol, the Memphis hip-hop, rock, and soul fusion band he signed to his Tennman imprint through Interscope in 2006. The show had been announced via Timberlake’s Twitter account Wednesday afternoon with the tweet, “NYC!!! Wanna check out some live music tonight?? Meet me and @freesol at 45th & 9th at 11pm.,’’ and by the time Timberlake and FreeSol stepped behind the mikes in the small space at the front, the restaurant had been mobbed with fans. Inside, camera phones danced above the crowd as everyone tried to capture their moment in the presence of the pop superstar while, outside, fans pressed against the restaurant’s windows for a better view.
Earlier in the evening, Timberlake and Tennman/Interscope had hosted an invite-only FreeSol listening at New York’s Jungle City Studios. As the band - lyricist Free, keyboardist Premo D’Anger, drummer Kickman Teddy, guitarist E Ives, and DJ Charlie White - as well as FreeSol manager Charlie Walker, Timberlake, and several members of the media milled about, selections from FreeSol’s upcoming debut, “No Rules,’’ played over the studio monitors. “No Rules’’ is executive produced by Timberlake and due Oct. 11.
The event also featured a screening of two videos shot in support of the project, for the singles “Hoodies on, Hats Low’’ and “Role Model.’’ Both videos were shot in Memphis and co-directed by Timberlake. Timberlake appears prominently on “Role Model,’’ which has yet to be released.
Despite the frenzied crush of fans, press, and celebrities (which also included Timberlake’s “In Time’’ costar Amanda Seyfried), the event appeared to go off without a hitch.
Several NYPD cruisers lined the block outside the restaurant but there were no reports of incidents. And the crowd loved every minute of it, especially “What Goes Around . . . Comes Around,’’ which found the whole bar singing along.
“Thanks for your help,’’ Timberlake said, with a smile as the song wound down. “It’s been a long time.’’