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B.o.B brings the ‘Magic’ to Notre Dame

Andrew Gastelum | Monday, April 29, 2013


It was a simple, yet iconic scene in the tunnels of Compton Family Ice Arena. While the walls echoed the 2,000-plus chants of his name from the floor, B.o.B gathered his team in the stagnant backstage shadows for a pep talk and maybe even a quick prayer or two.

Then off he went, bolting onto the stage with a furor of vibrant energy. And he never let up.

The 24-year old Atlanta rapper kicked off the first SUB spring concert to be held in the hockey arena, which opened in 2011. And with his dynamic performance, the bar has been set higher than the rafters.

Opening with “Beast Mode” – the opening track off his 2010 mixed-tape No Genre – B.o.B set the tone for the hour-long concert with a relentless, spirited display of smash hits. He soon glided his way through the set list with hit singles “Magic” and “Strange Clouds,” which warped the crowd with its intensely violent bass line.

Having headlined tours for the past three years, one could tell B.o.B had the crowd-pleasing live performance expertise of a concert veteran.

Some of the more intimate moments showed him at his greatest. He serenaded the front rows during “Nothin’ on You,” which turned into the artist’s big break in 2010 after Atlantic Records label-mate Lupe Fiasco passed on the beat. He performed an acoustic version of “Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray),” an introspective look into how the artist’s persona has changed for better or for worse when the luxuries of fame are finally embraced.

Complete with a DJ, dancers and Playboy Tre, B.o.B took out all the stops to give the crowd a complete concert experience and a maybe a few memories to go with it. The only lasting regret was the lack of instrumentation and live music that makes B.o.B’s atmospheric sound so unique, rather than a DJ playing tracks off a computer. Songs like “Don’t Let Me Fall,” “Both of Us” and “Airplanes” would have flourished with live drums, guitars and pianos to accompany the booming stacks of speakers throughout the floor. 

Throughout the night, he would even bridge the gap between the stage and to interact with the crowd, taking “selfie” pictures with bystanders’ phones, dancing on the rail overlooking the floor audience, and crowdsurfing toward the show’s finale. To debut a new unreleased song, “Headband” featuring 2 Chainz, B.o.B even brought students from the crowd on stage to dance to the sure-to-be hit with a catchy whistling melody in the same vein of a Tyga jam. As a whole, student’s can expect a lot from B.o.B in the future as the rapper has plans to release a collaborative mixtape “Grand Hustle” on May 7, his third studio album and a rock EP to top it all off.

Saving the biggest hits for last, B.o.B ended his set with the catchy, anthemic hit single “Airplanes” and the song of summer 2012 “So Good,” both perfect for the stadium-sound acoustics of Compton Family Ice Arena.

With the move to Compton Family Ice Arena, organization and planning was at a fast-paced hustle and bustle. Organizers worked all night Thursday and into Friday, doing everything from prepping the three locker-rooms-turned-dressing-rooms to assembling a massive screen behind the stage to complement the act with effervescent, flowing videos.

With the move, SUB organizers finally embraced student requests to leave the outdated and stuffy Stepan Center, but students hardly acted on their request. The quota for general admission floor tickets could have been expanded. There was such a great divide between the raucous floor atmosphere and the bland arena-style seating that it truly looked more like the crowd for an intramural hockey game than an animated spring concert. The fact remains students didn’t follow through on their end of the deal, which turned out to be more of their loss than SUB’s.

SUB also hit a chord with the selection of their opener, Dzeko and Torres, an exhilarating Canadian DJ duo that played remixes of hit party songs such as Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” along with club-oriented original material. The duo’s vigor and wall-shaking beats gave the crowd a much-needed jolt, keeping the stage warm and the energy on the rise leading up to the headlining act.

As a whole, the Compton experiment turned out to be a success. SUB made it the complete student experience, starting back in the fall when it sent out a survey asking students to vote on a headliner. It’s just too bad most of Notre Dame wasn’t there to appreciate the feat that it was.