“Homecoming Big Show” not as Painful as expected

Multi-Grammy Award winner T-Pain performs at the Fresno State Big Show, one of the homecoming events, at the Save Mart Center on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/ The Collegian)

Coming into Wednesday’s “Homecoming Big Show” held at the Save Mart Center, I had every intention of eviscerating the event the next day due to lackluster ticket sales, an artist who is past his relevancy and the minimal amount of buzz this event created around campus.

In the past, the Fresno State student body has failed when it came to getting involved and attending events on campus. But this is the first time I experienced pride in what the school is doing and despite how corny it sounds, it unleashed its “Bulldog Spirit.”

So, when it was announced that an event with VIAA, MAX and T-Pain as the headliner was going to take place, I figured it was going to be lackluster. But after the event, I have to give props to the University Student Union (USU) Productions crew for putting on a successful event. 

A major reason T-Pain’s performance was such a success, besides the fact that he played all the hits, was that he delivered the type of stage presence and dynamic performance you would expect from a seasoned veteran.

Oftentimes, an artist who has as many hits as T-Pain does usually shows up to a performance, plays a few album hits and then collects the check at the end of the night.

Last night was not the case as T-Pain not only delivered songs reminiscent of many attendees’ childhoods, but provided a unique twist to the show. The crowd seemed to lose its minds as if it was the first time hearing hit songs, like “Kiss Kiss,” “All I Do Is Win,” “Low” and “Good Life.”

A few unexpected highlights were T-Pain busting out into a dance break to the styling of “The Pink Panther Theme” and hitting a moonwalk as it crescendoed while placing the vocals of everyone’s favorite stripper love anthem, “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” over the beat of Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” The same technique was used with “5 O’Clock” and Khalid’s “Location.”

There were times when the vibe of the crowd dipped a bit due to T-Pain playing his new music, which can be attributed to not as many people being familiar with his recent album. This usually comes with the territory for artists who have lengthy discographies and people only wanting to hear the hits.

Despite playing his new music to little fanfare, for the most part, even if you weren’t familiar with the latest songs, it was still enjoyable as he showcased his actual vocal range – minus autotune – which should lead those in attendance to appreciate his artistry a bit more.

A low point in the night was, after waiting nearly 45 minutes, the audience was blessed with the generic synth pop styling of MAX, whose emotionless lyrics made me yearn for the minutes following his set where DJ Kay Rich played songs from artists I actually cared about.

I wasn’t sure if those in attendance were clapping and cheering because MAX was a good artist or because they spent money on the ticket and felt obligated to participate, but the amount of people clapping while remaining seated wasn’t a good sign.

If I never have to try and stop my ears from bleeding during his EDM synth remix of Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” again it will be a life well spent. At one point, MAX asked if the crowd was lucky to be alive and at that moment I wasn’t, because his set was only halfway done.

For a guy who has a song called “Satisfied,” maybe he should practice what he preaches because his set was a total mood killer, creating a lull in the crowd. 

The performance of VIAA was quite refreshing as she was tasked, as most openers are, with the challenge of warming up a cold crowd. She exceeded any expectations I had for her. Coming into the performance with no frame of reference on her, she killed it in the short amount of time she was on stage. Her cover of Lizzo’s “Juice” may have been one of the best-performed songs of the night.

I also have to give it to DJ Kay Rich, who I usually can’t stand because of his remixes. The songs he typically plays often come off as being corny. But I will give him props on how well he provided entertainment during the elongated breaks between each artist’s set. 

But for future reference, he has to stop playing “The Circle of Life,” “A Thousand Miles” and the soundbite of City of Fresno in the talk box voice after playing “California Love” because all of those aforementioned things are cringeworthy.

For those who decided to skip the event or couldn’t attend, they’ll have to live with missing out on a pretty good show. The expectations should be high for next year’s Homecoming concert. Let’s just hope USU Productions can accomplish another successful delivery when 2020 Homecoming comes around. 

The Collegian was made aware after this article was published that the Homecoming Committee contributed to this event.

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