A little over two years ago, no one knew about Bobby Ray Simmons, the young man who would go on to become known as B.o.B. Luckily, we did and had the foresight to have him headline our Bootleggers and Tastemakers stage. Backed by his small but rowdy band, he proceeded to tear down the stage with a performance that left us as diehard fans. Since then, he’s continued on an essentially nonstop succession of tour dates while managing to drop an album that was commercially and critically well-received and landing a few Billboard-topping singles. On Friday night, his constant show grind finally led him to the Music City for Vanderbilt University’s Commodore Quake homecoming concert and myself and others got to witness an even more improved Bobby Ray run through his Adventures… live. Georgia-born rhyme animal Playboy Tre, electro-pop outfit Passion Pit and the boss Snoop Dogg filled out the show’s lineup.
Quite obviously, B.o.B. was one of main draws, as the crowd enthusiastically sang and danced, arms raised throughout to his string of tunes including “The Kids,” “Don’t Let Me Fall,” and “Magic.” The peak point of his performance came at the culmination when he brought out hometown girl Hayley Williams of Paramore to perform their duet, “Airplanes.”
I could be wrong but I believe the performance was only their second time doing the song together, that’s only if you count the abbreviated first encounter at the recent MTV Awards. However, there was an air of familiarity between the two, perhaps created by a song fit for two purported misfits who have always comfortably lived outside the lines.
Needless to say, they whipped the crowd into a frenzy, setting the stage for Tha Doggfather. True to form, Snoop loomed like a legend onstage, flanked by a few of his famed, long-time Dogg Pound cohorts and two large bodyguards position on opposite sides of the front of the stage. Not that any of those figures posed a distraction from the crowd’s attention on Snoop, who ran through his medley of hits quite comfortably and much to the joy of the crowd, largely composed of college kids who were roughly two years old when the rapper first hit the scene. But it supports the idea that a magnetic stage show, an aspect of the music that’s on lost newer artists, requires one of two things: hits or complete energy.