Review: SZA steals the show at Block Party 2018

SZA steals the show at Block Party

DJ Orange Calderón (subbing for DJ Medasin) and SZA opened for headliner Gucci Mane at the Carrier Dome on April 27.
Published: April 28, 2018
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It’s too bad electronic DJ Medasin couldn’t join Block Party 2018 due to a sudden illness. Ironic right?  Needless to say, concertgoers didn’t miss a beat because the energetic DJ Orange Calderón set the party mood. She cut the latest hip-hop songs with some popular 90s hits Friday night at the Carrier Dome.

Even though the wind was blowing outside, students made sure to wear some of their most coveted spring pieces such as shorts, sequined tops and sports jerseys. As Calderón played Top 40s tracks throughout her hour-long set, a pair of Mickey Mouse paws could be seen waving along with the music.

Calderón’s opening set was arranged perfectly because the crowd was electric and thrilled for R&B superstar SZA to hit the stage. In fact, the crowd was so excited that they grew impatient while the crew reassembled the stage. Cellphone cameras came out and Instagram live stories began to stream. There was even a mini dance contest on the floor between a group of girls, seemingly influenced by SZA’s style wearing baggy jeans, crop tops and oversized vintage windbreakers.

Screams erupted when the outline of her moniker “SZA” flashed on the screen.  A lively SZA ran out saying “I came to sing songs about college”.

Fresh off her technically-challenged Coachella performance earlier this month, SZA redeemed herself in Syracuse with a visually stimulating routine and fluid vocals.  She kicked off the show with crowd favorites like “Super Model” and “Go Gina.” SZA embraced each lyric with intense passion, as if the audience was an ex-lover.  As she backed away from the mic, you could hear repeated reverberations of “oh” and “yeah” when the audience sang every word to “Broken Clocks” and “Drew Barrymore.”

Her breaks between ballads allowed her to connect with fans by asking how their day was going and if they were followers of her earlier work.  Of course, they screamed, and the crowd held up to that promise singing along to her older songs as if they were just released.

For someone who has been very vocal about their insecurities, SZA moved confidently across the stage and never missed a note.  Her Grammy-nominated song “Love Galore” had young lovers emotional as they held hands, hugged and kissed. Her encore performance “20 Something” left the crowd feeling pleased and wanting more.

Although Gucci Mane was the Block Party’s headliner, his early 00’ hits and Migos collaborations could not hold the audience’s attention.  As the stands cleared out, Gucci Mane happily graced the stage solo for about 30 minutes and opened with his 2005 Billboard chart hit “Icy.”

He constantly asked the audience if they were original Gucci Mane fans, and most screamed “yes,” but when songs like “Freaky Gurl” or “Making Love to the Money” came on the crowd quieted down.  But when his 2009 hit “Lemonade” blared through the speakers, the audience perked up again.

Before he ended his speedy performance, he knocked out the chart-topping song “Wasted” from his sixth studio album, “The State vs. Radric Davis.” He even performed a track in remembrance for his fellow Atlanta rapper and friend, Shawty Lo.

Though Gucci Mane’s bright smile indicated he enjoyed his time at Block Party, the walking crowd proved they were not his core fans and were only there to vibe out with SZA.

Avatar for Andrea Henderson

is an arts and entertainment contributor to The NewsHouse, plus a Goldring Arts Journalism graduate student with a concentration in fashion and museum studies.