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Fall Flex 2021: a whole lot of waiting

I’ve never been to a Fall Flex, this time called “a welcome back concert,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I’m probably not mistaken in thinking that there was a lack of communication, and that the acts themselves, while mostly solid, weren’t exactly worth all that time anxiously waiting on a sunny day.

 

Upon entry, there was no show host announcing when the concert was going to start, so I waited for what must have been 30 minutes. Now, having to wait is perfectly normal since people need time to get in, but not knowing how long I’d have to wait made the waiting frustrating. And then, without any introduction, the first artist, $ean Wire, suddenly appeared on stage and started his performance, which was easily the weakest part of the concert. The crowd remained pretty dead throughout the act. Even the folks at the very front had trouble keeping up the momentum. I blame this partially on the fact that Brandeisians are a boring bunch (like me) who hate fun and there weren’t a lot of us there—the main crowd couldn’t even fill a 10th of Chapels Field. But most of this is on the organizers, who didn’t tell us when a show was about to start, so a lot of people were still lining up for their free lemonade and ice cream when it finally happened. $ean Wire himself also had trouble hyping up the audience: repeating “I appreciate you, Brandeis!” and “Let’s make some noise!” (though, those probably aren’t the exact words) had only a minor effect on the crowd, and it was dissipating after the second song. 

 

This is not to suggest, however, that the artist didn’t care or wasn’t giving his all. Quite the contrary, it was a high-spirited hip-hop performance that looked incredibly exciting on his part. It just wasn’t very impressive to witness. He was using a backtrack, rapping over the recorded vocals in his performance. I’m not aware of the industry standard, but isn’t that just your everyday karaoke, except in front of a crowd?

 

This opening act lasted for about 15 minutes, which was followed by another 30 minutes of waiting for the next one. Again, there was no announcement as to when we were going to get the next act, so waiting felt especially painful. Luckily, you, the reader, will not have to wait, as I will fast forward time with the power of my words. The second performance, by Latrell James, came to us abruptly as the first did, and by Zeus, it was much better. He was clearly much more comfortable, less scripted when interacting with the crowd and he had us participate in the performance in classic call-and-response fashion, a great trick for hyping people up. He also gave the crowd dance instructions—I admire the initiative. And he didn’t use a backtrack. Overall, this is a solid performance that gave the crowd some much needed energy, probably my favorite out of the three.

 

And it’s back to waiting again, for about another 30 minutes, until the third artist, Audrey Nuna, came out of nowhere, as you would expect at this point. The crowd was especially excited for her appearance since she was the main act, and a lot of people who were waiting in line for the free food rushed back in to join us. I was excited too because I saw that she had brought a band with her—a drummer and a guitarist/SFX guy. Unfortunately, her voice was muffled throughout the entire performance (but not when she was talking, oddly enough), which was a detriment since hip-hop relies so much on the vocal performance. I think this was a combination of her microphone having way too much bass and the drums and SFX being so loud that they overshadowed the vocals at times. But what she lacked in clarity, she more than made up for with her energy. The crowd was inspired and super hyped up, and she remarked on how we were livelier than the crowd at USC, which was “70 times the size.” But personally I didn’t enjoy the performance as much as I’d have liked to since I could barely make out the lyrics.

 

All three performances were decent, but none were outstanding enough to make up for the fact that I had to wait anxiously and constantly while being outside on a sunny day. I think the concert would have been much better served if it were more tightly organized so that there was less downtime—one 30-minute break is probably enough time for people to get their free food. Or, at the very least, there should have been more communication about the show’s schedule. Waiting while not knowing when it might end is cruel and unusual punishment. 

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