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Review: Big Free Concert big, free and rowdy

Spring has sprung, and so were the students at the Ohio Union Activities Board’s Big Free Concert.

Campus was a carnival Thursday night as Ohio State welcomed Caked Up, The Chainsmokers, Juicy J and Childish Gambino onto the muddied residue of what once was South Oval.

Despite students’ efforts to focus on their studies, campus was buzzing Thursday with talk of the upcoming concert and promising sounds coming through their open windows as the stage men began soundcheck yesterday afternoon.

As 7 p.m. approached, anticipation grew. Girls slipped into their crop tops and high waisted shorts, the guys packed their cargo shorts’ pockets with Busch Lights and cigars and began flocking to the South Oval.

Caked Up took the stage with the sun still shining bright and set the mood for what was to come.

“If it’s electric but isn’t Steve Aoki, then it’s crap,” I heard a guy say, which seemed to be the general consensus.

Caked Up’s set was energetic and had the crowd moshing at points, but forgettable.

The kings of the selfie were up next as the sun began to set. The Chainsmokers hyped up the crowd with their prerecorded playlist including, of course, “#SELFIE.” And thank God, because the crowd was really preoccupied until they heard those awful, deafening voices of the girls featured in The Chainsmokers smash hit. For some reason, people love that song.

After the people got what they wanted, to the crowds’ dismay, The Chainsmokers continued to play. A “Juicy J” chant began and could be heard off and on throughout the rest of the band’s performance. The Chainsmokers left the crowd playing “TaKillya” by Vinnie Maniscalco, which is a trap remix of “Tequila” originally done by The Champs in 1958. They then welcomed Jordan Michael Houston, more fondly known as Juicy J, to the stage.

Mr. Juicy J came out swinging with “Smokin’ Rollin’” which was followed by “Having Sex.” He took a few moments, then, to condone the explicit things that college students are typically known for (drugs, sex and/or alcohol) and most likely engaging in at the time of the concert, but before long, jumped into his feature in Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” OSU students went crazy, or what I thought was crazy.

I was towards the back of the crowd, and only being 5-foot nothing, it does not take much to obscure my view of the stage. As Juicy J began “Bandz a Make Her Dance,” one of my guy friends lifted me up on his shoulders, and my view of South Oval was mesmerizing. There were people on top of the parking garage next to the Union, people spanning from high street to 12th Avenue, and the crowd went as far back towards Mirror Lake as my eyes could see.

What I thought was excitement from the students around me would not have even registered on the enthusiasm scale in comparison to the people up against the stage. There was crowd surfing everywhere, kids climbing the lamp posts and miscellaneous objects flying through the air. Not to mention, there was an ominous haze overtop the crowd that should only be seen hovering above the state of Colorado.

I could finally see the Juice in the flesh from way up there, and it was just in time to see him bragging about the chain around his neck being worth about four semesters worth of tuition money. He dangled it out in front of all his fans and asked who wanted it, which led to a massive push of the entire mob towards the stage.

Silly students, he was not going to give away his chain! Instead he sang “Scholarship” which is a song about “college chicks” that sent the girls over the edge. The “twerking” and incessant gyrating was in full swing.

“We Still in This B—-” and Miley Cyrus’ “23” were performed next, which, of course, just lead to more twerking. Then finally, the highly anticipated “Bounce It” began. This is one of Juicy J’s more well-known songs. Phones flew up in the air because most people still have not learned that watching your favorite song live is so much better than watching it through your 5-inch by 3-inch phone screen. Oh well, everyone seemed to enjoy it, but Juicy left the crowd wanting more, as that was his last of the set.

Let me pause for a moment to comment on the extreme lack of security at the Big Free Concert last night. Yeah, there were some men with neon shirts and shoulder walkie-talkies on the outskirts of the crowd, and those men even ventured into the crowd to do sweeps during Caked Up and The Chainsmokers. But once the sun had finally set, the mob and South Oval was a teenage wasteland.

Like I mentioned above, I was up on the shoulders of one of my friends, which would not have flown at The Band Perry Welcome Week concert first semester. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. There were half-full beer cans being chucked up in the air, wood-tipped black and milds being smoked as far as the eye can see (might I mention that OSU is a tobacco-free campus as of this spring semester) and flasks being passed around everywhere you turned. There were other extra-curricular substances being passed around as well that created the Colorado smog above everyone’s heads. Naturally, there is always that one girl who pukes and passes out on the ground, and those two guys who get in each other’s faces and act like there is about to be some big fight, but other than that, everyone was fairly well-behaved.

Moving on. After about 15 painful minutes of DJing between acts and the three biggest guys in the 614 area code secured their place directly in front of me, Childish Gambino took the stage.

“How ya feelin’, OSU?” he asked the crazed fans.

“I. Crawl” was up first, followed by “II. Worldstar.” Juicy J was definitely a crowdpleaser, but Gambino sounded much better live. If you put Juicy J and Childish Gambino side by side, Gambino would be pegged as more of an artist rather than just a rapper. Juicy J raps, “slob on my knob like corn on the cob,” compared to Gambino’s more clever approach, “Girl, why is you lying, girl why you Mufasa?”

Gambino, whose real name is Donald Glover, and his full band continued to rock South Oval with “I. The Party” and “IV. Sweatpants.” At this point, he had been on stage for about 45 minutes and the crowd seemed to be losing interest, or entering their hangovers. A sheet was drawn over the stage as loud and low bass began to play. People were very preoccupied and restless. There was constant moving around and people shoving their way through the crowd. Constant. Some of them were warning the crowd of puke they were about to spew and looking for a clearing, some were just trying to get a front and center view of the artist still concealed behind the sheet.

Finally though, the sheet was dropped and Gambino slowed it down. His music became background noise to everyone around me’s conversations about parties to follow the show.

The slow stuff, thankfully, did not last too long. The stage filled with fog from machines (which, again, was not needed because of all the student-produced smoke engulfing the South Oval) and Mr. Glover performed “3005” as well as “Heartbeat” and “Fire Fly.” This was a much needed change in pace in order to keep the mob engaged.

Eleven o’clock was quickly approaching, so Childish Gambino informed the crowd that his time onstage was winding down. He suggested that he play something with a lot of bass, and the group of skinny white boys next to me squeaked in excitement. They literally squeaked. The whole crowd was jumping and raging as Mr. Gambino finished off the night with “Bonfire.”

Per usual, the students began an “encore” chant, but to my surprise, Childish Gambino did not comply and re-enter the stage for another song. This was probably for the best because the students were staggering, and my guess is, there were quite a few exams scheduled for the next morning. The crowd broke up and as we walked away, and all that could be heard was the crunching from all the empty cans beneath our feet.

Whether they will be able to recall their time on the South Oval or not, the students raged last night to Caked Up, The Chainsmokers, Juicy J and Childish Gambino. The 2014 Big Free Concert was just what OSU students needed to ease their heavy minds from the stress of the upcoming finals week of the semester.

One comment

  1. Wait, is there smoke over Colorado? Are you prohibited from identifying the dreadful “substance” of marijuana by it’s name? Maybe you should look into pop culture more and observe Molly (MDMA) abuse at concerts versus binge drinking. I think you’d be surprised at the results. Sorry OUAB didn’t invite The Black Keys or Mumford and Sons to campus for you to “romp” with, just like your “ideal” crowd of The Band Perry this past fall. As the great Kenny Power’s would say: “Seems like motherf*ckers should be shutting the hell up and enjoying the show.”

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