The energy of the Cornell homecoming crowd, wh had been drinking all day, was palpable as opener Motion City Soundtrack left the stage, and anticipation began to mount for B.o.B.’s headlining performance at Saturday night’s Barton Hall concert. Before The Sun reviewed the show, however, we had the chance to sit down with B.o.B. briefly to ask him a few questions about his experience in the music business.
The Sun: How was it debuting at #1? What was that like?
B.o.B.: Honestly, that was the moment where I felt, out of all the moments in my career, that was the moment where it really started to feel like a dream. You know what I mean? When I say dream I mean literally like, like before you wake up in a dream and it starts to get real crazy, and you‘re like “Okay, this has got to be a dream,” it kind of felt like that. It kind of showed me, I guess, I felt like I was off the radar I guess — I don’t know. I’m the type of person where I never really... I think of myself as the underdog all the time.
Sun: Did you ever imagine debuting at #1 or was it just a complete surprise?
B.o.B.: Definitely, definitely a surprise. You know, it’s all about the team you have though. I think a lot of artists try and do everything themselves, and you gotta understand it takes a team to do something like debut at #1. Granted, you know it’s the music, but you gotta spread the awareness about the music and just build it right to where everything happens appropriately. [laughs]
Sun: You’re in a comic strip now for A.K.O.O. clothing. What’s it like to be in a comic strip?
B.o.B.: A-koo? A King Of Oneself. [laughs] Apparently I’m knocking down all the buildings where all the whack fashion comes from...[laughs]. I feel very heroic.
Sun: What’s the coolest place you’ve been or performed so far?
B.o.B.: Uh...Cornell University! [laughs]
The Show Begins
Loud cheers erupted as the lights in Barton Hall were suddenly cut, and B.o.B. emerged on stage with a hand-bobbing version of “I See Ya” to open his set. Feeling the energy of a homecoming crowd already partying, B.o.B. transitioned directly into “Top of the World” without skipping a beat.
Flanked by a duo of busty backup dancers (at times more entertaining than the music), B.o.B. transitioned into an energetic rendition of “Magic” that got the crowd hopping around. Towards the end of the song, the backup dancers picked up drumsticks and hit the symbol crashes as they were dancing around.
It was difficult for B.o.B. to sustain energy through the middle section of the concert, following a strong opening that featured three of B.o.B.’s more popular songs. Uninspired performances of “The Kids Don't Stand a Chance” and “Don’t Let Me Fall” later in the show weren’t exactly what the Keystone-and-Barton’s-fueled concertgoers wanted.
B.o.B. encouraged the audience to sing sorority-girl favorite “Nothin’ on You,” as red lights swept over the crowd. B.o.B.’s hype man encouraged the crowd to sing louder, but the collective, mostly female, voice of Saturday night’s concert couldn't go any louder.
“Make some noise for B.o.B. being a five time Grammy nominated artist!!!” the hype man said. He went on, “If you havin’ a good time at the concert, go on Twitter RIGHT NOW and tweet @bobatl if you’re having a good time!!!” @bobatl Cool, but I only use Twitter to describe my breakfasts to my friends. Thanks! #whenisairplanescomingonsoicanleave #sweatyfratbros
After the unneeded interruption, B.o.B. brought out friend and fellow artist from Atlanta, Playboy Tre, to perform “Bet I.” It was a welcome guest appearance. By this point the crowd’s energy was fading, and Playboy Tre brought the energy back up to where it needed to be for the concert’s finale.
At last, B.o.B. slowly eased into a performance of “Airplanes,” written by Cornell grads Kinetics & One Love. Given that this was the song the crowd was waiting for, it didn’t provide a dynamic climax to the concert, and certainly did not garner the vocal support from the crowd that “Nothin’ on You” did earlier in the show.
With Playboy Tre on stage, B.o.B. finished up his set with Playboy Tre’s song “Talking Bout Her,” a pumped-up call-and-response featuring B.o.B. saying “I’m talking bout her,” pointing at various girls in the front rows, followed by “Oh yeah’s” from the rest of the crowd. The rest of B.o.B.’s group introduced themselves with solos on their respective instruments, before leaving the stage.
A few minutes afterwards, B.o.B. came on for a three-song encore. His first pick was an unsupported A capella rap verse, showing a bit of his lyrical skill. Next up was a snippet of dubstep-py “Strange Clouds,” a song he performed live at Colorado State University with Lil’ Wayne. Finally and most surprisingly, B.o.B. broke out his guitar to play one of his “favorite songs ever,” a cover of M.G.M.T.’s “Kids.” It’s tough to say what B.o.B. will do with his music next, but his Twitter makes one thing clear: “Damn Cornell y’all know how to Party!!! #TeamBoB.”