Going up against an awkward theater setup, a crowd-diminishing evacuation and the most momentous news our country has received in years, Mac Miller was still able to produce a memorable musical performance at the State Theater on Sunday night. The 19-year old rapper from straight out of Pittsburgh kept the audience’s heads and arms bopping in unison to his carefree lyrics and catchy beats. If only everyone who attended the concert could have witnessed him perform.
An ill-timed fire alarm went off just moments before Miller was presumably going to take the stage. Amidst the noise and lights of the concert, few seemed to notice that the alarm was going off. As a result, many in the audience were skeptical when a State Theater employee came on stage to proclaim the evacuation. “I thought it was a prank, a part of Mac’s introduction,” said Zach O’Conner ’14. Only once the State Theater employee got his hands on a megaphone to project his evacuation plea did the audience realize that the interruption was serious. Confusion only multiplied once the masses were congregated outside on the Ithaca Commons. The question people wanted to know, whether the concert would go back on or not, seemed to have no clear answer. While a group of people assembled at the front doors of the State Theater thinking they would soon be let back in, another cluster of concertgoers situated a few yards away was being told by a State Theater employee that the “Fire Department won’t allow us to reopen tonight.” As a result of the conflicting reports, and in absence of any clear statement about whether the show would go on or not, many people decided to head home while others chose to wait it out. “It’s ridiculous that they would try to pull this over on us,” said M.T. Condosta ’14 during this period of mass confusion. Another disgruntled patron, Jaron Hite ‘14, acknowledged, “It’s been crazy. The show could be over by now.”
One positive consequence of the hour-long evacuation was that it gave everyone a chance to hear the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed. News of the terrorist leader’s death may not have reached everyone in the dark and noisy confines of the State Theater, but out on the open Commons, word spread like wildfire and chants of “U-S-A!” and “Fuck Osama!” sprouted from the crowd.
Then as quickly as one could say “United States of America,” the doors to the State Theater were swung open, and those who stuck around were able to see the concert. After apologizing for the delay and complimenting those still in the crowd for waiting, Miller went through a set list of songs that has made him one of the most popular artists on Cornell’s campus. A steady blend of songs about, as Miller himself put it, “Beer, weed and girls,” entertained the audience made up of predominately college-aged kids. Patented hits like “Senior Skip Day” and “Knock Knock” provided moments of stability during the otherwise chaotic night.
The obstacles for Mac Miller and the crowd did not end after the evacuation however. After energizing the crowd with a promise to crowd surf, Miller was informed by an unseen authority off stage that he could not. Due to time constraints, Miller had to pass on doing a traditional encore, instead staying on stage to perform “Donald Trump”, and at the end of the show, Miller’s audio was cut off while he was trying to squeeze in one more song for the crowd. Though trying to remain upbeat, Miller was getting a bit frustrated with all the restrictions.
The limitations of the concert stemmed from the venue. While the State Theater is majestic, it is not suited to hold a rap concert. A philharmonic concert maybe, but not Mac Miller. The theater has no open standing room, and thus much of the audience had to balance themselves on the cushioned seats of the front dozen rows. In fairness the State Theater was not the initially intended venue for the concert. ZBT, the fraternity sponsoring the concert, was originally going to have the performance at their house on North Campus, but when the number of tickets sold exceeded the maximum capacity of the house, the fraternity needed to find a new location.
While many who left after the evacuation may be bitter that they missed Mac Miller, these people at least got to enjoy opening acts from Tayyib Ali and Cornell’s own Dylan Owen ’14. The freshmen Red rapper added Mac Miller to a list of artists he has opened for this year, which includes Chiddy Bang and Sam Adams. Greg Malamut ’12 heaped praise on Owen, saying that “Besides the fact that he’s an incredible rapper, Dylan’s a great person; very passionate.”
Still, getting to hear the verses of Owen and Ali may not, for many, have made up for missing the main act. Yet for the few hundred people who stuck around, the night, equal parts chaotic and historic, proved to be rather enjoyable.