Top Story, Arts, Music, On Campus

Amid Controversy, B.o.B Throws it Back at Modstock

Students congregated in the Mod Lot on Wednesday to celebrate the end of classes with an evening of music at Modstock, the annual spring concert sponsored by the Campus Activities Board (CAB). Despite some pushback from students and faculty after CAB announced B.o.B would be the musical guest, students showed up in droves to watch the rapper perform.

Shady Lady, the winner of Battle of the Bands, opened the event with a quick set. The band dressed for the ’90s theme and invited friends on stage to perform with them throughout the set. Funky Giant’s Jackie Chan, MCAS ’18, joined vocalist Nicole Rodger, MCAS ’19, and keyboardist Katie Kelleher, CSOM ’18, to sing a cover of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.

The crowd sang along as Shady Lady performed an irreverent rendition of Smash Mouth’s “All Star” for which Peyton Spencer, a finalist at this year’s Singer Songwriter competition and MCAS ’18, joined the majority girl group. For the group’s final song, “Ride or Die,” drummer Alex Eichler, MCAS ’20, donned a blue wig and provided a clean beat for the pumped-up track. Rachel Moon, MCAS ’19, stood on the speaker at the front of the stage while delivering an impressive guitar solo during the song.

Although the rain stopped in time for the show, the tension in the air was palpable as the controversial musical guest, B.o.B, took the stage. The hip-hop artist’s views made headlines this week when members of the BC community began to question CAB’s decision to invite him to perform. Critics pointed out that the singer’s lyrics in “Flatline” reference noted Holocaust denier David Irving and that B.o.B has been outspoken about his belief that the earth is flat on social media.

As soon as the performer emerged from backstage, inflatable globes began bouncing around the crowd. B.o.B blew off early signs of tension to perform “Ray Bands,” during which he removed his own sunglasses and gave them to a member of the crowd. He did reference the beach ball globes when introducing his hit song “Nothin’ on You,” however.

“Speaking of the earth, I got something I want to say,” B.o.B said before singing along to the opening line of the song: “Beautiful girls all over the world / I could be chasing but my time would be wasted.”

The performer’s DJ stopped the track after the first chorus, but the crowd sang the lyrics back to the duo in perfect synchrony. After a brief pause, B.o.B went right into his first verse with an explosive beat drop.

Although the hip-hop artist pleased the crowd with memorable tracks, he also sprinkled strange gimmicks throughout the set, notably a twerking session for which he invited a few female members of the crowd to join him on stage. The girls danced around B.o.B while he rapped the lyrics to “Headband.” Prior to rapping his verse on Tech N9ne’s “Hood Go Crazy,” the rapper made a quick announcement.

“All my ladies with a big ol’ butt put your hands up,” B.o.B yelled into the mic.

The rapper followed “Hood Go Crazy” with his verse on T-Pain’s “Up Down” as the crowd continued to dance and sing along to the familiar lyrics. B.o.B continued his set with yet another song he was featured on, Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid.” During his verse on the song, B.o.B says the word “flatline,” causing some members of the crowd to yell, but the song was released three years prior to “Flatline” and the lyric is evidently not intended to be a reference to the controversial song.

The rapper made up for his lack of well-known original tracks by playing other artists’ songs and adding ad libs to them. The DJ spun Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” while the artist jumped around the stage and offered audience members autographed items. The combination of the random throwback tracks, cheap giveaways, and censored lyrics made some moments during the set feel more like a seventh grade dance than an established artist’s performance.

Playing on the audience’s sense of nostalgia, the artist segwayed into his popular track “Magic” before returning to other artists’ work—this time Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city” and “HUMBLE,” each of which he punctuated with an air horn sound effect.

Prior to the artist’s performance of his verse on “Price Tag,” a protester circled the event’s fence perimeter with a large sign that read “Holocaust Denial is Not ‘So Good’ B.o.B,.” referencing the name of one of the singer’s hits. The artist seemed to take no notice and carried on with the track. The protester would return to display the sign at the exit while students left the event, however.

The artist then performed a newer track that members of the crowd swayed to before singing “So Good.” The artist left the stage briefly, saying “My name is Bobby Ray and I approve this message. I’m out of here.” B.o.B returned, however, after the crowd chanted “Airplanes,” requesting the rapper perform his most recognizable verse. Prior to the song, the rapper requested that every crowd member point one finger at the sky. The singer exited the stage as the DJ ushered the crowd out to “Stir Fry” by Migos and “Nice for What” and “God’s Plan” by Drake.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor

May 4, 2018