T-Pain throws students back to the 2000s at Greek Freak concert

Greek Freak concert brings T-Pain to Syracuse University

The rap star played all of his hits, and a few of his misses, at Goldstein Auditorium Saturday night.
Published: September 16, 2018 | Updated: September 20th, 2018 at 12:04 pm
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T-Pain returned to Syracuse University for the first time in nearly a decade for Saturday's Greek Freak concert at Goldstein Auditorium.

T-Pain and hundreds of fans got into the throwback spirit Saturday night at National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Greek Freak concert, as the Grammy winning artist blasted through his rap hits from the past decade.

With a nearly three-hour build-up before the headliner took the stage, students — many still decked out in orange tailgate attire from the earlier football game — resorted to entertaining themselves with dance-offs on the Goldstein Auditorium floor between and during sets by openers DJ Zel and Zaytoven.

DJ Zel danced while tossing money off the stage into the audience. Zaytoven with his backing group, Zaytown Global, took a different approach, rousing the crowd by flipping them off as he performed. Also, both openers resorted to playing familiar hits by other artists. One stirred the crowd with A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane,” a song from the headliner of University Union’s Juice Jam festival the following day. Both acts tried to hype up the eager crowd of students, however, T-Pain was the main draw.

Finally, at about 9:15 p.m., T-Pain glided on the stage, greeting the grateful student audience to a mash-up of “Booty Wurk” and “2 Step.” His diamond-encrusted grill flashed the crowd in between shouting “Now get jiggy with it!”

Just a few minutes in and already sweating, T-Pain took his time to fit his dreads into a ponytail as the students waited eagerly. Although T-Pain is known for using auto-tune in his music – there’s even an iPhone app called “I Am T-Pain” which simulates the effect— the artist took some of the opening minutes to show off his bars without auto-tune. Then he jumped into his 2007 anthem “Buy U a Drank,” sharing the mic with the audience who chanted along with every single word.

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Students crowd near the stage at Saturday's Greek Freak concert.

But the buzz faded fast when T-Pain proceeded to play his lesser known tracks from earlier in his career. “We back, back in time,” he told the crowd before playing “I’m Sprung” from his 2005 album to which only a handful of passionate fans reacted.

After about three more of these songs, finance junior Nav Pandian threw his hands up in exasperation.

“He’s 32. He should be playing his hits. I came for the hits!” Pandian said. “I was more excited for this performance than Juice Jam.”

Even during the short lull, no one looked away. Students smiled and bobbed. T-Pain’s slick dance moves served the crowd a sense of deja vu, conjuring up early 2000s music videos. When the upbeat R&B intro to hit song “Kiss Kiss” finally floated through the auditorium, the hype resurged, and the energy stayed through the rest of the night as T-Pain ticked off the rest of his bangers.

“Low,” the most downloaded single of the entire 2000s decade, was one of the highlights of the set. The audience roared, jumping as T-Pain sang his iconic hook: “Shawty had them Apple bottom jeans … Boots with the fur…”

A mass of SU students’ hands waved high in the air as T-Pain whirled through the rest of his feel-good tracks. “All I Do is Win,” “Bartender” and “All of the Above” charged the end of the evening. For many students, the show was worth the wait.

“Even though the first couple hours were boring, I grew up with T-Pain songs like ‘Bartender,’ which I came to hear,” mechanical engineering senior Kevin Ryan said as he left the concert. “His dancing was good, and for 12 bucks, I had a great time.”

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T-Pain headlines Greek Freak festival on Saturday in Goldstein Auditorium.

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Zaytoven serves as one of two Greek Freak concert openers on Saturday.

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is the Entertainment Lead Producer for The NewsHouse.