Arts, On Campus

Neo-Soul Night Shines Light on Diversity at BC

On Thursday night, students took a study break to gather in Vanderslice Cabaret room for a mellow jam session. Black Student Forum (BSF) held its annual Neo-Soul Night with headlining artist Tobi Lou alongside his host Del Ro. Prior to their arrival, the DJ warmed the crowd up with some of today’s R&B and hip-hop hits.

Unsure of his point of entrance, members of the audience scanned the room with their flashlights from Snapchat and Instagram cameras. Tobi Lou caught people standing on the outskirts of the crowd by surprise when he parted the crowd down the middle to enter the stage. The group of people gradually grew as time progressed. People packed in as close to the stage as they could and densely filled about half of the venue.

For the first half of his set, Tobi Lou sported an oversized, gray Boston College hoodie. He rapped and sang over his instrumental tracks to the audience. Although this may have been some people’s introduction to Tobi Lou, they were quick to adopt his sound, nodding their heads and swaying to the beat. He first performed one of his most popular songs, “Buff Baby.”

The performance was interactive, as Tobi Lou intertwined a few call-and-response phrases to keep the crowd on its toes. Lou started a chant and a few audience members responded, “Who are you?” after the rapper said his name and outstretched his mic to the crowd. The phrase caught on, and throughout the performance, Tobi Lou would call his name and the crowd would shout it back. He continued to perform some of his older work and eventually incorporated three projects that he put together this year. Some audience members caught on to the slight fade-out in the chorus of “Darlin’” and finished Tobi Lou’s sentence to sing along.

About halfway through his set, a hungry Tobi Lou shared his unfortunate traveling experience that involved dropping his croissant before boarding a plane that did not have food. He found the service too reminiscent of Spirit Airlines, and the audience roared with laughter. A possible future career in comedy for Tobi Lou? Desired but doubtful.

Much of Tobi Lou’s music fuses different electronic sounds—from synthetic pianos and guitars with percussion to channel music—that forces even the least musically-inclined people to tap their foot to the beat. The inspirations for his jazz-infused R&B bops became clear after performing “Orange,” an ode to Chicago, a city that has a rich history of soul and inspiring neo-soul.

An audience member decided to share the lively atmosphere with their Instagram feed via a shared Instagram live. When Tobi Lou caught notice, he took over the person’s live video, and briefly paused his performance to interrogate the person on the other side of the screen. After the brief intermission, Tobi Lou continued sharing songs from his fourth and unreleased project. The crowd digested the witty lyrics and slow melodies and responded with slow head nods.

“Knock Knock,” a song for which Tobi Lou released a video last week, was one of the closing pieces. When the overly-distorted baby mobile music rang, the audience responded with unprecedented excitement. As Neo-Soul Night came to an end, Sadiq Ervin, an event coordinator for BSF and LSOE ’19, gave closing remarks that honored legends that have graced BC’s stages before, including Trey Songz, and prophesized Tobi Lou’s further success.

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Staff

December 2, 2018