Big Blue Bash was a smash hit
Toreros turn up to throwbacks from B.o.B and Sage The Gemini at last Friday’s concert
Anderson Haigler | Arts & Culture Editor | USD Vista
Tayler Reviere Verninas | Editor In Chief | The USD Vista
Each year, the University of San Diego hosts its annual Big Blue Bash concert during Homecoming and Family Weekend. Torero Way was abuzz last Friday night, as rappers B.o.B and Sage The Gemini took the stage. What ensued was the most lively night on USD’s campus in recent memory.
First-year Eric Ricks shared his excitement post-concert.
“The performance, the people, the vibe, the music — it was next level,” Ricks said. “I’m feeling great, super pumped, the concert was live, and it was just lit — the entire thing was lit. As a day one Sage member, some of the songs that got played had me turnt and I was feeling it.”
The USD administration sets forth requirements for its Big Blue Bash homecoming concert performer. According to Torero Program Board’s (TPB) Concert Coordinator, Kalley Kenney, the university requires the performances to be aligned with the school’s values and mission statement. In the past, tamer artists Misterwives, Atlas Genius, and Magic have performed on campus. While these concerts featured talented performers, they lacked an element of excitement and energy often found at other college concerts. This year, however, these performance stipulations seemed to go out the window.
Senior Taylor Gonzalez contrasted the different experiences between her first year and final year at USD.
“This is the best event that USD has ever put on,” Gonzalez said. “Freshman year it was Magic and I watched it from my room in Maher because it was boring and not fun. But this year was very fun and electrifying. There was a lot of participation from the audience which was really nice, and that’s not normal for USD festivals. Most of the time it feels like someone is singing at you because the artists that they get aren’t very interactive.”
USD students Matt Fairorth and Jawara Mills (UNKNWN) started the evening with short sets that were comprised of both original songs and covers.
Fairorth led in with a cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s “Codes and Keys,” before moving on to original songs such as “Backroads.” Fairorth’s vocal and instrumental talent shined, and his music was a strong first performance as the crowd on Torero Way began to slowly fill in.
The next opener was Jawara Mills (UNKNWN), who had the crowd energized early with a cover of Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” Following this song, however, it seemed that he missed an opportunity to capitalize on the crowd’s liveliness, and switched to slower original tracks. These songs, while well-performed and polished, seemed to miss the vibe of a growing audience that was trending upward with excitement for Sage The Gemini and B.o.B. However, UNKNWN finished on a high note, performing his original song “PYT” for his final song of the night, a bouncy track that set the stage for Sage The Gemini.
Despite being a well-established artist, Sage The Gemini wasn’t all calm and collected before his performance.
“I don’t know how I feel right now,” Sage said. “I am always nervous before I go on stage.”
The rapper sported a USD sweatshirt to begin his set with a raucous performance of his and Flo Rida’s song, “GDFR (Going Down For Real).” The aptly titled song proved to be the perfect start to his set, and he kept the energy high throughout his time on stage.
He went on to perform his newer hits such as “Good Thing,” “Reverse,” “Panoramic,” and “Now and Later,” before moving on to his signature hits including “Gas Pedal,” and “Red Nose.” In a pre-concert interview, Sage The Gemini explained that when he first started creating songs, he focused on lyrics, only to realize no one cared.
“I would really like rap very, very hard and come up with punchline after punchline after punchline and really show people that I could use my metaphors, and nobody cared,” Sage The Gemini said. “So I always thought, ‘Man how can you get on the radio?’ So I started listening to the radio and it was just these songs you did not put your heart into. Like what is that? So I mixed a little bit of that into a little bit of my style into dumb music. Songs that were just wild with no formula or nothing. So I just went wacky with the song and made the beat and they liked it, so I was like alright let’s go with it.”
These hits like “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose” are still party anthems for many current USD students, and the audience response was notably excited to hear them performed. Sage The Gemini engaged the crowd during his set, taking off his sweatshirt to reveal another USD t-shirt, and later ditching his shirt altogether, much to the delight of many female fans. He alternated between performing on stage and standing on the speakers in front of the stage and the railing between him and his fans.
Sage The Gemini’s set represented real star power at the Big Blue Bash. While past performers were known for one or two hit songs, Sage The Gemini brought a deep catalog of hits to the stage on Friday, and the audience reaction was indicative of his mainstream success. Most, if not all students knew the words to his songs, and they were not shy about singing along and dancing. The crowd was always engaged, and Sage The Gemini kept the hits coming until the conclusion of his nearly hour-long set.
His set brought an upbeat, party-like atmosphere to campus, which has not been felt during past performances. In today’s college landscape, the soundtrack to many students’ social lives is rap, and it often takes an artist of this genre to bring out enthusiasm in students. This seemed to be the case Friday night, and Sage The Gemini certainly fit the bill.
First-year Eric Ricks expressed his enthusiasm after Sage’s performance.
“As a day-one Sage member, some of the songs that got played had me turnt and I was feeling it,” Ricks said.
As Sage The Gemini’s set came to a close, the crowd swelled to be the biggest the Big Blue Bash saw last Friday night. Taking the stage to good-natured chants of “the world is flat” from the large crowd of USD students, B.o.B began his set with his lively hit “Strange Clouds.” The chants, made in reference to the rapper’s outspoken views on social media that the Earth is flat, were a whimsical beginning to what would prove to be a rowdy, memorable set from the Atlanta rapper.
Junior Austin Juarez was filled with emotion during and after B.o.B’s set.
“This was an amazing concert,” Juarez said. “It’s really cool because B.o.B — he’s an artist [from] when I was growing up and I listened to him all of the time. For USD to get him it was a huge step up from last year. It was awesome just listening live to all the songs I grew up listening to.”
B.o.B, dressed in USD colors with a blue and white visor precariously angled on his head, performed his early hits next, including his smash hit “Nothing on You.” His set was interspersed with covers of various other artists’ songs, ranging from Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like,” to Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia,” all of which he punctuated with enthusiastic dancing. These covers, which at times consisted of B.o.B simply letting the track play and working the stage, might have been problematic for a different artist. However, B.o.B simultaneously exhilarated the crowd and bought himself a bit of a break in the midst of a hectic set.
B.o.B really began to shine when he rolled out his biggest hits including “Magic,” “Too Good,” and “HeadBand.” He leaned on the crowd both literally and figuratively while crowd-surfing the audience of Toreros. Juarez described what it was like experiencing these songs live.
“When he played ‘HeadBand’ it was awesome,” Juarez said “If he didn’t play ‘HeadBand,’ I was going to be a little bit disappointed. But once it came on I just got super excited. It was amazing seeing it live; I listen to it in my car all of the time. For him to actually play it live was an unreal experience.”
Much like Sage The Gemini, B.o.B was very familiar to the crowd of students, and during his biggest hits, the crowd went wild. He crowdsurfed for the entirety of both “Magic,” and “Too Good,” and in perhaps the most memorable moment of the night, brought four female USD students onstage to dance with him during “HeadBand.” The provocative dancing mirrored the lyrics of the song, and it was an undeniably extraordinary moment for students.
First-year Addie Hardten was one of the students brought onstage to dance with B.o.B, and she described her experience.
“It was so much fun, like it was just amazing,” Hardten said. “It was super cool how it was random people from the crowd coming together dancing with B.o.B.”
Following his performance of “Price Tag,” B.o.B left the stage briefly before returning for an encore at the resounding request of the crowd. He began his encore with a performance of “We Still In This Bitch,” then moved on to a more emotional song, “Don’t Let Me Fall,” thanking the audience before leaving the stage. However, Toreros were not fully satisfied and began chanting “encore” for B.o.B to return to the stage and sing his smash hit “Airplanes.”
After hearing perhaps the most notable song of the night, Juarez explained how he felt in that moment.
“Oh, it was incredible; I loved it!” Juarez said. “I was personally disappointed when he walked off stage and didn’t play ‘Airplanes’ — that was really bad. But then they called him back and played ‘Airplanes’ and I was going insane because I know every single word to that song. When he played it everyone was looking around like this guy knows every single word — like yeah I know every single word — I listened to this on the radio on my way to school every single morning in the seventh grade.”
The image of B.o.B rapping among the crowd was priceless as he sat on students’ shoulders and gave his all for the Toreros. He engaged the crowd in a way that no other performer had at the Big Blue Bash last Friday, and the crowd engaged him back — they were captivated by his performance until the very last song.
He closed out his set, which spanned more than an hour, with his most recent hit, “4 Lit.” The lively song provided a fitting end to a performance that some Toreros described as most definitely “lit.” B.o.B’s interaction with the crowd didn’t stop with his music, however.
Gonzalez expressed her surprise at the phenomenal performers USD hosted on Fridaynight.
“The vibe was there,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone was getting it and getting lit. Everyone knew the songs and it was more than just one which was really nice from both artists. It was just nonstop. I kept forgetting I was at USD and had to keep remind myself that we were at USD because this is not something that happens here. USD does not do this type of stuff, aka rap music and nice artists that people actually know.”
B.o.B stayed onstage after the conclusion of his final song and signed autographs for students, signing everything from shirts to inflatable maps of the world. The rapper left the stage with one final message for the crowd.
“Promise me one thing,” B.o.B said, “You won’t ever be nobody’s bitch.”
He repeated this phrase several times and encouraged the audience to chant it with him before he left the stage for good. This sentiment, undoubtedly a reference to B.o.B’s overall anti-establishment and outspoken views on conspiracy theories, provided a fitting end to what was an eccentric and heartfelt performance from the rapper.
Senior Jordan Rodriguez, Associated Students Inclusion and Diversity Committee Chair, shared her opinions toward the selection of genre at this year’s homecoming concert.
“I think it is awesome that USD is finally bringing some different type of music into our space that is really geared toward the students and what students like, especially since that is their activity fee money going toward these type of things that we put on for them,” Rodriguez said. “I am really glad that everyone had a great time and I have only gotten really good responses from everyone I have talked to. They enjoyed their night and they really loved the music this year and they were really excited to come out. This is one of the biggest turnouts we have had for homecoming.”
What happened onstage Friday night was only part of the story, though. As notable as the performances were, equally notable were the actions of the crowd. Multiple USD students scaled stop signs on Torero Way to gain a better view of the stage, moves that suggested just how large the crowd ended up being.
Rodriguez expressed her concern for the dangerous actions of these particular Toreros.
“I was more concerned about their safety rather than anything,” Rodriguez said. “That’s really our main concern as far as AS and TPB goes. Making sure everyone has a good time but always safety comes first. We just wanted to make sure they were safe, and they got down safely so that they did not injure themselves or other people.”
In addition, a couple of students brought beach balls that looked like the Earth, and one student brought a sign reading “The Earth Is Flat,” both again referencing in good fun B.o.B’s views on the Earth being flat.
However, not all of the actions made Friday night were in the genre of good fun. A San Diego Police Department officer confirmed that a USD student was arrested for public intoxication following an altercation with other USD students.
On a more general level, the crowd seemed to come together in a sense of community that had not been seen on USD’s campus in a long time, and students seemed to genuinely be having a good time and enjoying the performance, rather than just showing up because it was something to do.
Senior Daisy Aguilar explained why she had so much fun during the Big Blue Bash of 2017.
“I am so proud of USD just because this is a very relatable and noticeable artist,” Aguilar said. “A lot of people are familiar with him, unlike other artists from previous times where they have been up-and-coming so no one really knows them. It was so much fun and everyone was singing along. It was really nice; it felt like a community.”
For a school that is not known for its lively social scene, USD’s Big Blue Bash marked a step forward for student involvement with on-campus events, as well as the overall social vibe of campus.