Lupe Fiasco And Timeflies Rock In Conte
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
From start to finish, UGBC’s Fall Concert, featuring the talents of Timeflies and Lupe Fiasco, proved to students that the organization had finally nailed the event from top to bottom. Complaints about fuzzy amplification and obscure songs aside, the event demonstrated a sincere step forward in the concert scene at Boston College.
Student DJ Guy Dupont, head of ILO Productions, kept audiences on their toes for the entirety of his remarkably masterful set. Unafraid to mix less-known tracks with jammers, Dupont worked songs like Dada Life’s “Kick Out The Epic” with One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” in impressively nuanced mixes that flowed seamlessly from one song to the next. From “Hot Cheetos and Takis” to “Gangnam Style,” the set showcased students’ favorites alongside classic throwbacks like Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” mixed ingeniously with Avicii’s “Levels.”
Timeflies took to the stage after a brief gap, keeping the crowd’s surprisingly gigantic energy level pulsing with opener “We Found Love,” a smooth R&B rework of Rihanna’s hit of the same name. Rattling through acoustic versions of bubblegum hits (Sia’s “Wild Ones,” Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way), the duo—consisting of vocalist Cal Shapiro and producer/DJ Rob Resnick—faltered occasionally during their lengthy set.
As the hour-mark neared, Timeflies won back crowds with a BC-inspired rap to the tune of “Space Jam,” dropping references to popular mainstays like “chips and a pickle,” Mary Ann’s, Jerry York, and how it sucks to BU—eliciting easily the biggest cheer of the evening. Blending a cover of Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch” with a cheesy rendition of “No Diggity,” the duo overstayed their welcome, only briefly winning back the crowd upon its final song, a fluffy rap-cover of “Under the Sea.”
Bounding onstage with hair like a mop and a grin plastered on his face, Fiasco—who played BC’s spring Concert in 2009—came armed with a four-piece band, an old-fashioned microphone stand, and an eager propensity for thought-provoking enjoyment. Kicking things off with “Words I Never Said,” a song from last year’s critically maligned Lasers complete with a Skylar Grey hook, the rapper quickly set the tone for the night as one curated by him, not by his hits.
Although many in attendance seemed to know most of the songs, Fiasco dug deep into his repertoire for some lesser-known tracks, but surprisingly managed to hold the crowd’s attention for the greater part of 90 minutes with his charismatic stage presence, his deeply introspective interludes, and a head-banging light show that often seemed more rock concert than rap show. Blurring the line between genres and breaking the barriers between appropriate things to rap about seem to be Fiasco’s specialty, as he entertained crowds with stories about Malcolm X and self-respect.
Songs like “Go Go Gadget Flow” and the Kanye-re-appropriated “Touch the Sky” frontloaded the set, keeping spirits high. Fiasco clearly fed off this energy, often riffing in his raps, encouraging his band members to do whatever they wanted, and slam-dancing across the stage as the Conte Forum lights flashed and fizzled.
Melding “Kick Push” with his new pensive single “Bitch Bad,” the Chicago-based rapper slowed the beat down and shed newfound emphasis on his challenging and increasingly intellectual lyrics. He held such a tight grip on the audience at this moment that every audience member hung on each word.
“Lots of guys think this song is for them, but ladies, you know it’s for you,” the Chi-guy grinned before playing “Beautiful Lasers,” an MDMA-assisted cut that so perfectly highlights the rapper’s shortcomings. Oftentimes, listeners can get the sense that Fiasco himself is confused—a quality often found in musicians, but one can only release so many songs looking for answers. His tracks in recent years have sparked some incredibly useful and overlooked discussion among those in the rap community, but you get the feeling that he believes whatever he believes and isn’t interested in budging anytime soon, even if he claims to be open to debates. It’s at times both frustrating and also incredibly refreshing.
“You are a,” the rapper said in the quietly lit spotlight, “superstar.” As the opening violins signified the arrival of the star’s most popular hit to date, the crowds cheered, some even going as far as to proclaim, “Finally, a song I know!” While a good pop song by any measure, “Superstar” is but a blip in a catalogue so deep and nuanced that it’s a shame many students seemed to know it and it alone.
Wrapping his tight performance up with “Out of My Head” (feat. Trey Songz), “Daydreamin” (feat. Jill Scott), and “Show Goes On,” Fiasco succinctly and eloquently concluded an evening of music unrivalled by anything recently produced by UGBC. It was illuminating, intellectually stimulating, and, at every moment a pure, visceral joy to watch, listen, and learn from Fiasco, who proved in turn that he had just as much to learn as he had to teach us.