Arts & Entertainment Editor
Delirium is always a trip. The final weekend of October each year in Isla Vista is always the quietest, out of fear that it would otherwise be the loudest. Save a few community events, not even a mouse had better be dropping a pin past 6 p.m. on the last Saturday of the spookiest month due to the draconian noise ordinances put into place to prevent dangerously spooky parties. That is until you get to the Thunderdome, a stormy oasis of noise and energy on an otherwise calm night that feels like it should be raging. Isaiah Rashad, a rapper with a dynamic style that ranges from chill vibes to aggressive and hype, makes for a reasonable choice to entertain UC Santa Barbara students for “Halloweekend.”
Before Rashad came Binki, who began performing just a few minutes after scheduled, impressively timely for an A.S. Program Board event. Binki came on stage looking a little uncomfortable with the fact that the audience did not know his first song. It looked like he decided on a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach with confidence amidst an audience of students who had not heard of him and were there for another act. Unfortunately for him, he was not so successful at faking it and was visibly nervous and stiff in demeanor for most of the show.
Visible nerves don’t mean a bad concert, especially considering the laid-back nature of Binki’s music. The much bigger problem was his singing ability. You might not guess it from listening to his recordings, but it was clear in just a few songs that this guy could not hit a note live if his career depended on it. Fortunately for him, it didn’t. However, this all contributed to the awkwardness of the experience. The song where he busted out the acoustic guitar — a great little addition — was the only one that saw him on-pitch more than half of the time. The crowd was not too excited or attentive until the end when he played his strongest, danciest couple of bops.
Isaiah Rashad came on just a few minutes after 10 p.m., with his DJ smoothly bumping Kendrick in the minutes in between and keeping the crowd excited.
After a quick, “What’s up, I’m Isaiah Rashad,” he got right into it.
Rashad made a good choice in starting out on the more aggressive, exciting side. He kept the crowd jumping and shouting all through the first few songs and flashed a few beautifully self-satisfied, confident gold-toothed smiles after seeing that the crowd knew his lyrics well enough to carry a chorus. He was happy to be there, and so were the students.
That was most of the show. He would perform a song, the flashing lights would correspond to what he did, and the crowd stayed tuned closely the whole time. Though the start was strong and evidently planned, the same cannot be said for the whole performance.
Though Rashad performed each song well, it got a bit choppy due to the downtime between each song when around halfway through he and his DJ would privately decide what song to play next as the crowd waited awkwardly. Though the DJ did his job, the performance would have felt much smoother if Rashad had gotten someone to help with his ad libs and fill in for him when he got out of breath, which happened a number of times and resulted in a few unsaid words.
The feeling of him not being overly prepared for the show wasn’t so bad, though. Rashad is experienced and talented enough that he did not need to prepare a grand vision in advance to get the crowd going.
On faster tracks, he’d have everyone jumping, while on the slower tracks everyone’s hands willingly swayed to the beat, back and forth. Rashad earned a huge round of applause after rapping an entire verse in triplets while making eye contact with a single crowd member. Also among his successful crowd-pleasing efforts was getting sturdy during instrumental sections.
One odd feature of the show was his tendency at the end of the songs to slow down and speak rather than rap, letting the lights turn to a calm, dim blue. The first few added a touch of intimacy, but they felt overdone by the end. That didn’t stop the crowd from loving the show, and his time spent high-fiving the crowd after the last song solidified him as a beloved man of the people. I’m still sad he wasn’t wearing a Halloween costume, though.