What makes a good homecoming show? Is it copious amounts of weed and alcohol? Is it mosh pits or crowd surfing? Perhaps the secret behind a great concert at the U is enough compiled crowd sweat to drown three hippopotamuses.
Well, Friday’s Homecoming Howl concert with Kidz in the Hall and N*E*R*D had all of those things covered, but still lacked a quality that would have had students walking away from the University Green contented and fully satisfied.
For weeks leading up to the show, there was a huge buzz around campus and students simply couldn’t wait to get more inebriated than they did on prom night and check out the seemingly upbeat and exciting N*E*R*D.
Instead, those excited fans were provided with a concert at which the opening act outshined the headliner. Somehow, the featured act took the stage and wasted the initial crowd excitement, paralyzing it with an excruciatingly boring set that had more people walking away than bopping their heads. Just fifteen minutes into their performance, hundreds of students strolled away from the crowd with their heads and spirits dragging, as if they’d been told Christmahanakwanzaka had been canceled.
So, in the aftermath of a show that had many feeling simply “bleh,” I was left wondering – what makes a good Homecoming show, and what sort of performers fit the bill?
First off, we need an act we’ve all heard of and can easily recognize. It seems as though UM kids listen to songs like “Whatever You Like” more often than the somber and not-so-catchy “Love Bomb” by N*E*R*D. And that’s not a bad thing. I’ll admit T.I.’s sugar-daddy anthem has a play count over 20 in my iTunes, and in all honesty if I’d heard the King of the South singing it on Friday I would’ve danced my sweaty Reggie Miller (retro alert!) jersey off.
Next, we need an act with enough energy and excitement to match or even exceed ours. As college kids, we’re naturally happy and joyous about most things – and if you throw in some alcohol and drugs, there are few things that wouldn’t make us jolly concertgoers. So if performers can’t make their enthusiasm resonate with a crowd of thousands, we’re left hanging high and dry and ready to further the evening’s festivities elsewhere. Just weeks ago, when Wyclef joined Jay-Z at a free show for Obama in downtown Miami, the former Fugee had just about everyone swinging articles of clothing over their head. And that’s the sort of zeal we need!
Finally, the U needs an act whose sound can resonate at a venue like the Green. This seems like a given, but it’s pretty apparent that unless you were in the pit directly in front of the stage, N*E*R*D’s sound was just faint enough that you wouldn’t be drawn in to stay and watch. Artists who have anthems and big records can sonically draw in listeners from afar, even if they don’t recognize the songs. And with an outdoor show like the Homecoming Howl, that’s an essential component.
If you were at this year’s Homecoming Howl, you may have left fulfilled, disappointed or too sloppy to know the difference, but there’s no doubt that next year’s show should get a universal consensus that it was the absolute shit, in a good way. If someone listens to the priceless advice above, that shouldn’t be an issue and perhaps next year we’ll all be rocking with the likes of Kanye, Chris Brown or another fitting and worthy performer.