Top Story, Arts, Music, On Campus

‘Rat’ God: A Guide To Shwayze And William Bolton’s Basement Concert

‘Shwayze’ is a verb, an adjective, a state of being.

Nearly 300 students learned about Shwayze on Thursday, having attending this weekend’s Homecoming Concert in the Rat.

Some of them simply learned who the Malibu rapper was, while others actually learned how to “Shwayze.” Shwayze is more than an individual—Shwayze is a verb, an adjective, a state of being. All who came could not help but walk away with begrudging respect for the performer who played a little more than an hour for the steady, yet small crowd in a college dining hall.

Shwayze wasn’t the rapper the Rat deserved, but he sure was the rapper it got.

Shwayze’s performance, unfortunately, drew bigger crowds than that of William Bolton before him. Taking the stage at 8 p.m., Bolton treated the steadily growing crowd of mostly underclassmen and a few rollicking seniors to a 35-minute set of his ever growing and diverse array of songs. Formerly known as Times New Roman and occasionally referred to onstage as Willy B. Bolton, Bolton, A&S ’16, has become one of the faces of the Boston College music scene. His performance was a well-paced combination of original songs and popular covers—with the set primarily showcasing his own work. Notable covers were Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” and Kid Cudi’s suburban anthem “Pursuit of Happiness.”


Bolton understandably was more dynamic and engaging during his own songs. Songs like the smooth “Summer Breeze” and the catchy “Let’s Stay Together” captured the crowd. Bolton at his best was in “Passion.” The song exemplified all that’s great about Bolton as a performer—he keeps an endearing intimacy with the crowd, reeling them in with a simple, yet curiously catchy hook. Soon, the crowd members seemed to forget that they were haphazardly tossing their limbs around in the basement of Lyons.

Shwayze took his stepping onto the stage. He kept the crowd with an alarmingly low student to police ratio waiting for 20 minutes before arriving onstage with his musical entourage. This was admittedly a great move on the part of Shwayze—or a pretty “Shwayze” move, if you will. By letting the crowd stir a bit, Shwayze built up a sizable amount of excitement for his appearance, which he really didn’t have before the concert. Before, it was just a concert with Shwayze. After 20 minutes of waiting, Shwayze became an event in himself.

Eventually, Shwayze took to the stage. The Rat was fullest at this point in the night, stretching to the third set of columns from the back. The Rat was no longer the den of pumpkin spice coffee, but a half-blown, chaperoned club.

Shwayze kicked the concert into gear with “West Coast Party,” which combined a raucous, pop hook with high energy verses. He followed with the fast paced “Tipsy,” and later changed his course with “Sally Is A”—a song about a trendy girl named Sally. This was one of Shwayze’s slowest, yet most lyrically potent efforts. He had opened the crowd up with the party tracks but only began to really Shwayze them in the Shwayze way when “Sally Is A” came on.

After the second Kanye cover of the night—a disappointing take on “All Falls Down”—Shwayze responded with a song that combined his lyrical touch with a righteously Shwayze hook. At face, “Get U Home” is a pretty forward song about taking someone home, but there’s more to it: unwieldy, often self-contradictory verses like “She was a waitress / Wait she was an actress” and its hook, straight from vintage Blink-182, made it special.

The crowd had started to shrink at this point in the night—a double product of students heading out and the rest squeezing together to form a smaller, but more dedicated force.

Shwayze mused about another girl toward the end of the set, the home stretch, in perhaps his most popular song “Corona and Lime.” Shwayze may be guilty of playing too cool at some points—and that’s part of life on a stage—but despite its title, “Corona and Lime” is actually a very clever little song. It manages to be Shwayze, without getting too Shwayze.

Shwayze capped off the show with his grandest party anthem, “Love Is Overrated,” which sort of worked against whatever semblance of charm Shwayze had mustered with his set. Fortunately, it is a song that demands a fair bit of shouting from the crowd, so most were too busy repeating the chorus to do much analysis on the content itself.

Ultimately, Shwayze and his modest Rat concert was not about analysis, or reason of any type. It just happened. Shwayze is fun, so is William Bolton, and the Rat can be fun (or dare I say Shwayze), too.

Featured Image by Michelle Castro / Heights Staff

October 19, 2014