On Friday, Gampel Pavilion was filled with students to partake in First Night and the Fall Concert. Kemba Walker was in attendance to see the new teams and T-Pain performed for the night. Photos by Charlotte Lao / The Daily Campus.
Gampel Pavilion played double duty last Friday, serving as a red carpet and arena for the women and men’s basketball teams for the annual First Night, shortly thereafter transitioning into the stage for the rapper T-Pain, the headliner of this year’s Fall Concert. This is the first year that the two events had been combined into the same night with the same venue, resulting in a collaboration between UConn Athletics and the Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG). As usual, First Night was free to UConn students and the general public with first-come, first-serve admission; subsequently, the Fall Concert was free of charge as well, another first for the SUBOG-hosted event and a decision that was well-received by students.
“The fall concert was really great for a free concert, and I’m glad SUBOG did such a stellar job carrying out the show,” Lisette Donewald, a third-semester student in the exploratory program, said.
Students began lining up for the night’s festivities at 2 p.m., which began at 7 p.m. By the time the doors opened, the line reached well beyond the former Recreation Center’s entrance. T-Pain took the stage after the conclusion of First Night, and the venue was packed for both events.
The collaboration was also meant to make the event a part of the Homecoming festivities last week and to “create more energy and buzz around campus during one of the biggest traditions on college campuses that celebrates current students and alumni,” according to the event’s press release. For the first time, the Homecoming Court was introduced along with the players and coaches of the women and men’s basketball teams later that night.
After electric introductions of the teams and rousing speeches by women’s head coach Geno Auriemma and men’s head coach Dan Hurley, skill competitions like a shooting contest and dunk contest showed off the players to fans for the first time this season.
T-Pain, along with an accompanying DJ, brought an interesting mix of his most popular songs as well as covered some unexpected songs by other artists, like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Crowd favorites of the artist’s songs included “Buy U a Drank,” “Bartender” and “Can’t Believe It.” Students enjoyed the nostalgia that came from hearing throwback party songs, and were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of songs from unexpected genres.
“About half the songs were T-Pain and half weren’t T-Pain, and while unexpected, overall still a fun time,” Hope Dymond, a third-semester environmental engineering major, said. She, along with other students, believed the artist’s performance of other songs made the concert more enjoyable for students that didn’t know T-Pain’s discography as well as seasoned fans.
T-Pain’s performance was a hit with many students who were lucky enough to have floor seats, which were distributed during “ticket drops” throughout the week by SUBOG.
“The Fall Concert was the best concert I’ve been to so far at UConn,” Alex Boman, a third-semester mechanical engineering and German double major, said. “T-Pain put on an amazing display of entertainment and constantly kept the crowd dancing. I loved his choice of songs … and other songs that he covered. Overall, I’m happy that I was able to go out that night and enjoy T-Pain after midterms.”
However, other students that came to watch the Fall Concert didn’t enjoy the concert’s set-up as much, which wasn’t very conducive to those who were farther from the stage.
“T-Pain was not an excellent performer, and it was a real bummer if you weren’t on the floor,” Donewald said.
Nonetheless, T-Pain went on performing other songs like “Low,” “Kiss Kiss,” “I’m Sprung” and “5 O’Clock.” About halfway through the show, he entered in a somewhat lengthy (and humorous) interaction with the crowd as he went around asking students on the floor, “You good?”
“I need y’all to promise me that everything you do will one up what you’ve done before,” T-Pain said to the crowd after promoting the release of his new album, “1UP,” which came out in February of this year after winning the first season of the singing competition “The Masked Singer.” “And remember, don’t do it because it’s cool, do it because you’re cool.”
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.