When the party bus finally arrived on Seville Road on Nov. 22, the line of concert-goers quickly stormed in, pulled out their pre-game kit and began to dance, even before the bus started rolling. We danced and did screaming renditions of popping hip-hop anthems nonstop, even while crashing into each other as the bus turned corners. We finally arrived at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, ready.
After shivering in line from both the cold and my excitement, I got in through the doors just in time to catch Aleyes and Captain$een, winners of the local talent contest, who were rapping up a storm in Earl Warren Showgrounds. The place looked like it was the lovechild of an empty warehouse and circus tent; it was magical. The empty showgrounds quickly filled up with eager souls, ready for a wild night and dressed to impress in bucket hats, pleather bustiers, striped jerseys and such.
The next acts were local DJ’s, Tyler Buron and Dubflo, both graduates of UCSB. Their mixes ensured that the crowd would continue to loosen up for the next big-name acts to come. Immediately, dance circles formed in every area. People took turns confidently showing their own flavors and styles to an encouraging, howling circle of supporters. Whether they were twerking, jerking, krumping or break-dancing, there were plenty of people featured on Snapchat.
After the DJ’s finished up their sets, IamSu!, a hot up-and-coming rapper representing the Bay Area, took the stage and shouted, “I CAME HERE TO HAVE A PARTY WITH Y’ALL, Y’ALL WANNA PARTY WITH ME?” He then started his hit song, “Rep That Gang,” and commanded the crowd to “Put your threes up!” The crowd yelled back, “SUZY!” and waved three fingers, breaking it down as IamSu! spit verse after verse.
IamSu! pleased the crowd with more hit songs, such as “Function,” “Gas Pedal” and “Only That Real.” Despite adorations like “Aww, he looks like a teddy bear,” Suzy fiercely tore up the stage with hyped-up energy and rapping. When he finished, saddened fans repeatedly shouted his name for an encore, but a DJ came to cheer up them up, reminding them that Waka Flocka Flame was coming up next.
Donning a white t-shirt with the words “Local Trap Star” plastered across his chest, Waka Flocka walked onto the stage, his braids flicking upwards with every step he took. Pointing to his camera crew, he told the audience to go crazy because “We about to film a movie! This shit gonn’ be on World Star!” Confused and excited faces greeted the cameras as the army of party animals tried to out-crazy one another.
Throughout the night, the Brick Squad leader took turns changing the music between his usual hip hop songs and new EDM music. Regardless of the music he played, he made sure to interject “TURN UP!,” “BRICK SQUAD!” and “WAKA FLOCKA” throughout his songs. EDM was unexpected and the flock of fans was pleasantly surprised. When he told them, “I need everybody to count down to 10 with me and when the beat drop, turn the fuck up! I fuck with everybody in this,” everyone jumped up and raged with him.
Waka Flocka Flame definitely had a presence. One moment people were moshing, and in another he came down off the stage and waddled through the sea of fans. People climbed over each other, trying to touch his locks or get a picture with him. Full disclosure: I was one of those people. I successfully got a video with him, spooning him from behind, as people grabbed my hair and pushed me in every direction possible. It was a near-death experience. I am not sure how he handled all those fans for so long, but his height might have helped.
When he got back onstage, he continued to perform his hits, such as “No Hands” and “Hard in the Paint.” His squad was as crazy as him. They danced around onstage, shouted, sang into the mic and helped the artist turn up (even though he didn’t need any motivation). At one point, the trap star sang, “Turn up god: that’s what they call me!,” as a squad member tossed a little person to surf the crowd…twice!
Suddenly, the party on the concert floor flooded onto the stage. Liz Ogawa, one of the many concert-goers who crazily danced on stage, commented, “It was crazy! One moment I was in the front row of the crowd and the next moment I was being lifted on stage. Some of my friends were up there too, so it was super fun to be dancing with Waka. I even took a selfie with him!” The concert ended with fanatics still on stage, turning up, dancing, stripping, snapchatting and shouting along to songs, such as “Bugatti,” “Round of Applause” and “No Type”.
If I were to choose one word to sum up the concert, it would be wild. I’m not sure if it even should be called a concert. It was more like we were partying with IamSu!, Waka Flocka Flame and his brick squad. It was a function. A wild, freaky function with a plethora of “TURN UP!”, “BRICK SQUAD!,” “GO CRAZY!” and “FLOCKA!” ringing through my ears and running through my dancing veins.
The energy in the room was explosive. It was definitely an interesting alternative experience from another night in Isla Vista. When the event ended, the crowd left: laughing about their near-death experiences, scrambling around looking for lost earrings and shirts, continuing to subconsciously mumble “FLOCKA! FLOCKA! FLOCKA!” and running to catch the bus home.