It was almost a perfect setup for a great night: The setting sun gave the air a great orange glow, the weather was beautiful, and the crowd was ready to shake off the week they had. The setting could not have been better for SBU when young up-and-comers Grouplove and rap veteran Ludacris came to make the crowd bounce on Friday. The first concert to be held at LaValle Stadium was a momentous occasion, and the crowd definitely reflected that feeling from the get-go. Freshman Karthik Krishnan, a biochemistry major and devoted Grouplove fan, had been waiting for some time for the band to come.
“It’s all about the concert, man,” he said outside of the show. “They’re definitely going to bring the energy.”
The sun had just started to set behind the trees behind LaValle when Grouplove took the stage. The quintet from Los Angeles (but born in New York) took the stage with an overture of Kanye West’s “Monster.” The band, who looked like hipsters from the desert, strutted onto the stage with energy to boot. Opening the show with “Itchin’ On a Photograph,” lead singer Christian Zucconi had a great quiet-loud dynamic to his voice. “Lovely Cup” followed a funky bass line and a bouncy rhythm. Grouplove have the pop-rock sound of Weezer but the energy and appeal of a stadium rock band. Singer/keyboardist Hannah Hooper has the looks of Pat Benatar and a sexy but shy delivery to her vocals, specifically on “Get Giddy.” The band had complete control over the audience by the time they played “Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten.” The crowd howled along (literally) with the band as the spacey-country song’s sounds filled the stadium. Of course, most people who knew the band waited for them to play their hit “Tongue Tied,” which was the closing song and brought the house down, making Grouplove a tough act to follow, for sure.
Enter Ludacris, the three-time Grammy award winner from Georgia. Clearly a stage veteran, Luda knew exactly how to entertain a college crowd, sticking only to his hits so that the fans knew that he was here to party. “Southern Hospitality” mixed well with “Move B***h,” while “How Low” melded seamlessly into “My Chick Bad.” Ludacris didn’t really play entire songs; instead, his set consisted of a medley of verses from his decade-spanning hits, but the crowd didn’t seem to notice. He let his band show off its talents during “Pimpin’ All Over the World,” but the saxophone was a very nice touch. Luda also reached out to the audience in multiple chants, and let them sing along. He even slipped in his guest verses from Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” and Usher’s “Yeah.” Although Luda has focused more on acting than rapping for some five years now, he still has incredible microphone skills, as evidenced by his lightning-fast delivery on his debut single “What’s Your Fantasy?,” which is still as nasty as ever despite being 13 years removed from its debut. Luda even took a moment to rest while he let his DJ make the crowd rumble to “Harlem Shake,” “Levels,” and “Party Rock Anthem.” It made for one hell of a show and a reminder that Luda may be older and the rap game may have changed around him, but he is still one of the godfathers of the Dirty South. Let’s be honest: did you ever think one of the top MCs when you were in elementary school would still sound so good 10 years later?
Freshman journalism major Basil John certainly didn’t doubt Luda’s ability, calling the rapper “Amazing!” and noting how good he was at “playing with the crowd. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.”
Take note folks, because Ludacris will always be here for our entertainment. Just remember to “Get Back,” because you still don’t know him like that.