Ok, I’d first like to start off this review by saying that I had no intentions of going to this SchoolBoy Q show. I wasn’t even considering going. SchoolBoy Q? I mean, I like the guy’s verse in “White Walls” and I know “Hands on the Wheel”, but is he really that good? My question would be bluntly answered later that night.
My friend texted me saying he had an extra ticket for Q. Why not, right? As a music lover, I asked myself who am I to turn down a concert that lands right in my lap?
We showed up to Hill Auditorium as the opener, Slander, was starting their set and found our seats in the balcony. My group of friends and I looked at each other and all thought the same thing: “Fuck this”. Without any hesitation we went back down the stairs, smiled our way by the ushers and raced right up the front of the stage. Quite the improvement in location.
Simply put, Slander played for far too long and everyone quickly lost interest. By the time they were halfway through, we realized how uninteresting they were and you could sense a similar feeling from the whole crowd. I looked around from front row and saw seats were slowly filling up. When the opener finally ended their “set”, the audience began buzzing, ready for Q to take the stage. Q’s hypeman walked out and as quickly as the openers mellowed us out, he and Braylon Edwards, (interesting cameo, thanks for showing up Edwards), fired the auditorium up.
Q sauntered out on stage, opening with “Fuck LA” and spitting his lines in his characteristic aggressive manner. Almost immediately, a fan tossed him a maize and blue Michigan bucket hat, which he proudly donned as the crowd erupted. He rapped with purpose, pouring all his energy into each word. Q ran around the stage, making sure to address fans in every area of the audience.
Looking back, the answer is so obvious and it was even clearer in the moment: SchoolBoy Q is a fantastic performer. He fed so naturally off the crowd’s energy, which only made us get louder and rowdier. It was barely a concert; it was a showcase. He made you feel like you were the only one in the room, yet a part of something so much greater. Q played hits like “Collard Greens”, letting the audience sing the hook as we bounced. It felt like Hill Auditorium was about to erupt.
I’ve been to a bunch of rap concerts in life, but I have never been this captivated before. Q had absolute control over the room. He didn’t even need to play his own songs, letting Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d City” do the talking for him. The song placement was perfect. He played a lot of songs from his latest album Oxymoron, but still touched on some classics from his independent Habits and Contradictions. Q built up the crowd’s energy to its absolute peak, felt the electricity in the room, and brought everything back down again to play “Studio” and “Blessed”. Two great songs that, relative to Q’s repertoire, are pretty chilled out.
After this slight break to recharge, Q began the grand finale. Q began tearing through “Yay Yay”, building up the energy once again. He engaged the audience, reached out to touch our hands in the front row, and even took a hit of someone’s J. Finally, Q launched into his big single “Man of the Year” and Hill Auditorium exploded. Q took total control and swerved effortlessly around the stage, not rapping to us, but for us. It was his song, but he shared it with us; it was our song, our moment. It was such a powerful and fulfilling finish to the show and the fact that Q was pouring his heart and soul into the song only brought the audience’s energy level up higher. Q’s sharp vocals came out loud and cleanly. Even as the auditorium lights switched on, he took ownership over the song and the crowd and wouldn’t allow his show to end until he said so.
When the song was finally finished, Q humbly thanked us all for coming, for supporting him, and for helping put his daughter through school. He was so heartfelt and sincere. As he left the stage, we started chanting “ONE MORE SONG!” to no avail. Q was excellent. He put on a dominating performance and left us begging for more. Yes, I realized, he is that good. And if Q comes to your area, you must go see him.
By David Cooper