On April 10th, KHDX hosted their annual spring concert and brought the popular contemporary R&B and rap artist blackbear to Hendrix campus. The public was allowed in for a $10 fee, after all interested Hendrix students were allowed in for the Spring Concert. With such a big-name artist, the line for the public started forming around 12 pm, with the majority of people showing up as earlier as 5pm for ticket sales that began at 7 pm and a concert that began at 8 pm. Many UCA students had heard about the concert and were waiting eagerly outside the SLTC for a few of the public tickets. Profits from ticket sales went to Campus Kitty fundraising.
Once the doors opened, Worsham was flooded with Hendrix students rushing up to the barricade to get a good spot for blackbear. I was one of the lucky ones who got a close spot up front next to my friend Rachel who had gotten to meet blackbear earlier backstage through a contest put on by KHDX. We stood there as more and more people filled in behind us, getting hotter and sweatier in anticipation for the concert. Because of the closed environment and the natural Arkansas humidity, the room felt like a sauna and was dripping with excitement for blackbear.
Accompanied by his bassist and drummer, blackbeat finally made his appearance around 8 pm, and started the set with one of his songs from his cybersex album. With electric blue and purple lights, heavy humidity, and deep bass, the entire hour-long concert was a surreal experience. blackbear left after 2 songs to change into something lighter due to the humidity and came back with starbucks, which he seemed to flaunt over the crowd.
Additionally, with the myriad of water bottles scattered across the stage, blackbear would occasionally sip from a bottle and then dump the rest out into the crowd. While this might seem a bit dehumanizing, for us sweaty, overheated audience members, the cool water was a sweet relief.
blackbear sang many of his most popular songs at the concert, including Idfc and do re mi, prompting the crowd to sing along at many points for audience interaction. To hype up the crowd, blackbear would occasionally reach out and grab onto a fan’s hand, prompting the audience to surge forward in their attempts to get closer to the rapper. I don’t know about you, but the weight of over 100 sweaty bodies pushing you forward was not a pleasurable experience for me. However it was worth it, as at some point in the concert blackbear was close enough for me to reach out and grab his hand, much to the excitement of my friends around me.
blackbear continued his concert for the rest of the hour as fans got more and more excited about the star’s actions and singing. Some particularly rowdy audience members began to throw their bras onto the stage, with one even hooking around the mic as blackbear waved it above the crowd. By the end of the concert, 4 bras had made it to the stage, one shirt from a male behind me, and one girl had thrown her underwear. Apparently the rapper’s sex appeal had overwhelmed the group of college students.
blackbear seemed genuinely pleased that there was such an excited crowd for the middle of Arkansas. It seems to be a trend for visiting artists and comedians that are not expecting Hendrix students to be as hyped as they are, but obviously they do not know our HDX culture. By the end of the concert, Hendrix (and some UCA) students had shown blackbear how we party in Conway, AR.
With all the publicity generated due to blackbear’s appearance, it is obvious that the attempts at cutting the Fall Concert for a bigger Spring Concert paid off. Hopefully next year more students will participate in the voting for the Spring Concert artist so that we get a performer that represents all the groups of Hendrix campus. Additionally, with the public excitement for a big name like blackbear, KHDX can build its reputation for bringing Hendrix students the best music possible.