By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor
It’s not every day that you get to see a musical innovator perform just feet away from your dorm.
Sibs Weekend at Ohio University is a huge deal for so many Bobcats; it’s a time to let loose, hang out with your siblings and party like the weekend won’t end. And what better way to do that than to party at a show in a fancy auditorium?
Last year, rapper Waka Flocka Flame brought down the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium with an unforgettable show where hundreds of people got on stage at once while he performed his hit “Hard in Da Paint.” This year, OU’s Black Student Cultural Programming Board (BSCPB) hosted T-Pain, who played the 2000-person theatre with a full band and an endless amount of energy.
It was heartwarming to hear about this show, as I’ve always found T-Pain to be an innovator for modern pop and hip-hop. As one of the people who brought auto-tune into the mainstream, he helped improve the way modern music is produced and created. Without his music topping the charts, music today would most likely not be the same.
As I walked into the sold out show and got to my second row balcony seat, I wasn’t surprised to see that the majority of the crowd was a lot like the population of OHIO; tall, mostly scrawny white people trying too hard to look cool through their trendy clothes and expensive liquor. It was like the Red Brick crowd decided to move the party to a fancy theatre.
Opening the show before doors was Cincinnati’s own DJ Bandcamp who got the crowd’s attention through song requests, numerous videographers and his excellent stage name. He spun track after track of the kind of popular music T-Pain helped inspire through his trademark sound: Rae Sremmurd, Justin Bieber, Rihanna,Chris Brown, etc.
When Bandcamp shouted out both Sibs Weekend and various cities in Ohio, it really came to my attention how packed the place was when hearing a roar of cheering and applause. It was surprising to suddenly notice this theatre was crowded, especially since the large theatre usually feels empty.
Suddenly, Bandcamp brought out B Flame, an OHIO sophomore from Cincinnati who played a few original tracks. His flow was really good, lyrics and content typical, but like any opener at any show ever, most of the crowd seemed a little too unenthusiastic, with a sizable portion of the crowd sitting the whole time. It was disappointing to see that, since the rapper actually did a really good job opening for such a big audience.
T-Pain started his show off on an extremely energetic note with him and his hype-man dancing, jumping and running all over the stage. His live band consisted of a DJ, drummer, guitarist, two keyboardists (one of them also being the bassist) and two backup singers. They were incredibly lively as well and added a lot of energy needed to keep the show going.
A surprising element of the show was the fact that T-Pain performed without his signature auto-tune, showing off his really slick voice that he showed the world in his episode of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. There were many times during the show where the band slowed down, giving T-Pain an opportunity to solo and show off his voice, making the crowd even more excited.
Many times throughout his set T-Pain talked to various people in the crowd, giving his live show a more personal feel. He would constantly make sexual jokes to the crowd and tease the more talkative people in the first few rows. The moment he took off the black sweater he was wearing to reveal a green “Ohio Bobcats” t-shirt, the crowd lost their mind, just right before they chanted back to him the famous “OU, Oh Yeah!” chant. (Note: there were 17 of those chants in total that night. I counted.)
T-Pain played plenty of tracks throughout his set that weren’t his (Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow,” DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What,” Jidenna’s “Classic Man”) but was able to put his own spin on them through his live charisma or having the DJ mix his own material into them. It brought a lot of creativity and strength into the set, giving the crowd more variety and energy.
A hugely refreshing part of the show was the tracks played that he’s featured on (DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,”Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It (On The Alcohol),” Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss,” Kanye West’s “Good Life,” E-40’s “U And Dat,” Flo Rida’s “Low”), which made me realize even more just how important and popular T-Pain was to the hits of the 2000s and how these songs helped influence the popular style and sounds of today. Many of those songs could be considered decade defining, and it was amazing to see those songs performed live so well and with so much care.
Highlights of the show included his bigger singles “Can’t Believe It,” “I’m ‘n Luv (wit a Stripper)” and “Bartender,” which had the audience dancing and singing along the most. They were a huge surprise to listen to, especially since this was the first time many were listening to these songs in years. It was like being hit with a train of nostalgia, hearing songs that were on the radio during our adolescence.
T-Pain’s OHIO performance was one that needed to be seen to believe. The energy that came from even the more unenthusiastic like myself was incredible. If the crowd left learning one thing that night, it’s that T-Pain still has the talent and spirit years after his mainstream success. The hour long set was definitely worth the $15-25 paid and was certainly the highlight of Sibs Weekend for so many.