Carloes Crumpton, 16, of Detroit, dances outside Comerica Park as fans gather early for tonight's Eminem and Rihanna concert. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
Detroit — They’ve come from all over the country and as far away as China this weekend to hear hometown superstar Eminem and pop dynamo Rihanna perform the last of their One Monster concerts.
Brian Bell drove nine and a half hours to Detroit from Menominee, in the far reaches of the Upper Peninsula. He came with four friends, all of whom were seeing Eminem for the first time. “I’ve been waiting for this,” said Bell, 22, who bought tickets to the show in March. “Eminem’s been my favorite rapper for forever.”
Many fans arrived Thursday and early Friday, hoping to be among the first inside the gates at Comerica Park, the final stop on the pair’s three-city tour. Fans lined up outside the stadium at 5:30 p.m. Friday were treated to a crashing sound check, as the band rolled through songs like “Love the Way You Lie,” while Rihanna’s vocals — courtesy of a track, not Rihanna herself — could be heard echoing throughout the stadium.
As soon as the gates into the general admission field opened at 6 p.m., fans rushed in to secure the best spots available.
John Bowen and Affton Wood traveled nine hours from Troy, Ill., about 20 miles east of St. Louis. Eminem hasn’t performed in St. Louis for 12 years, and they’ve been waiting to see him live ever since. They decided Em’s hometown was a pretty good place to see him.
“It’s going to be amazing,” said Wood, 31. “He’ll put on a better show here than he will anywhere else.”
Friday night’s concert was the first of the pair’s two performances this weekend at Comerica Park. The duo performs again tonight. Attendance at each show is expected to be about 45,000, second only to last weekend’s One Direction blockbusters at neighboring Ford Field. Those shows drew about 50,000 fans each night.
The One Monster shows in Detroit closes out the six-show pairing. The other concerts were held in Pasadena, California, and East Rutherford, New Jersey. Eminem hasn’t played the Motor City since 2010, when he linked up with Jay Z for back-to-back shows at Comerica Park.
Friday’s concert came near the end of a weeklong road trip for Mike Kline, 30, of Wasilla, Alaska. He stopped along the way and picked up a couple of friends in Indiana and was looking forward to his first time seeing Eminem.
“I’m pretty pumped,” he said. “I’m hoping he brings out some of his fellow Detroit buddies.”
Alex Griffith, Kline’s friend from Angola, Indiana, was looking forward to “the concert of a lifetime.”
“I’ve wanted to go see Eminem in Detroit since I was 10 years old,” said Griffith, 22.
Colton Duff and Shayla Littleton both came to the show from Louisville, Kentucky, to see Rihanna. It was Duff’s fourth time seeing the star he refers to as “the love of my life,” and he gleefully recounted the time RiRi retweeted him on the day she released her “Talk That Talk” album in 2011. Duff, 22, figured Rihanna and Em were a good pairing.
“They’ve both been through a lot of (stuff),” he said.
Fans wore special items of merchandise, including a $130 Detroit Tigers jersey with “Mathers” on the back, the E backwards, as is Eminem’s trademark. There were also red and blue Detroit Pistons-style jerseys with “MMLP” across the back and the number 2 at the bottom that retailed for $75. (”MMLP” is shorthand for “Marshall Mathers LP,” and Em’s “Marshall Mathers LP 2” was released in late 2013.) An assortment of hooded sweatshirts were available for $75 each and T-shirts sold for $40. A special edition Detroit Tigers fitted cap with an emblem from the concert was also available for $40.
Melissa and Dakota Maynor traveled from Asheville, North Carolina, and arrived at Comerica Park at 2 p.m. Thursday. Excited to see their first Eminem concert, the married pair camped out over night and even got rained on.
“We’re pretty dedicated Eminem fans,” said Melissa Maynor, who hopes to get in the front row. “It’s our biggest concert we’ve ever been to. Eminem’s pretty worth it to stand here and get rained on here, laying on the ground.”
Taylor Thornton of Toledo chilled near one of the huge baseball bats with his girlfriend Destiny Ball. Thornton, 24, said he’s been an Eminem fan since he was 8 years old.
“I’ve been a fan of him for so long, it’s been my dream to come see him live, especially at Comerica Park, a big stadium like this, with a big pop star like Rihanna ... it’s going to be awesome.”