May 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 63°F


Smooth moves from B.o.B at Cornell homecoming

Cymbals and genres alike clashed as a mix of Ithaca College and Cornell University students came together in Cornell’s Barton Hall to watch indie rockers Motion City Soundtrack and up-and-coming rap star B.o.B team up for a sonically brilliant performance.

Rapper B.o.B performs during Cornell University’s homecoming concert Saturday night at Barton Hall. Michelle Boulé/The Ithacan

At 8 p.m. Saturday, on the steep slopes of the Cornell campus, a ruckus formed outside of Barton Hall. Students filed out of Schoellkopf Stadium full of enthusiasm and energy after Cornell’s comeback victory in its homecoming football game to watch the night’s musical event. Inside the concert hall, the lights became dim and guitars screeched, announcing the arrival of the opening band, Minneapolis-based pop-punk quintet Motion City Soundtrack. Front man Justin Pierre’s trademark croon soared in the acoustically brilliant hall, and the band came out of the gates with the high-energy tune “Better Open the Door,” from the its second album, “Commit This to Memory.” The pounding drums and infectious synthesizer immediately got the crowd riled up and dancing and set the tone for the evening’s musical selection.

Following the crowd-pleasing opener, the band delivered a musically sound set. The guitars were crisp and created effective interplay during songs like “Her Words Destroyed My Planet,” a single from the band’s latest album, “My Dinosaur Life.” Drummer Tony Thaxton provided a brilliant backdrop to Pierre’s angst-driven lyrics full of personal testimonials in tunes like “Pulp Fiction,” “A Lifeless Ordinary” and crowd favorite “L.G. Fuad.”

Although the musicianship was flawless, the band showed little emotion during the performance and seemed slightly disinterested. Motion City‘s lack of pizzazz made the crowd impatient and rowdy. Only the band’s diehard fans screamed the lyrics to each song, while those unfamiliar with their work sometimes seemed eager for the next act.

Indie rock group Motion City Soundtrack opened for B.o.B at the concert. Michelle Boulé /The Ithacan

After Motion City finished its set and the impatient crowd pushed through a 15-minute intermission, attention shifted to a scrawny Atlanta-born rapper in a vibrant yellow cut-off hoodie. The main attraction, B.o.B, was absolutely infectious and the rapper’s energy was explosive. From the first bass drop in his opening track to the very last rhyme in his finale, his lively stage presence and passionate singing kept the crowd moving. He made use of the entire stage, as he swung his arms in bursts to punctuate particular lines or beat breaks, making it difficult not to dance to every song he played.

B.o.B’s set list included a wide selection of tunes.  Hits like “Airplanes,” the duet he recorded last year with Paramore’s Hayley Williams and “Nothin’ On You,” a track featuring singer-songwriter Bruno Mars appealed to even the more low-key listeners. Songs from the rapper’s chart-topping album “Adventures of Bobby Ray” were played for diehard fans and he sprinkled in covers of MGMT’s “Kids” and Vampire Weekend’s “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” for fans of genres outside his typical rapping.

When B.o.B’s flawless set ended, the rambunctious crowd piled out of the packed auditorium and went into the cool autumn air having watched two talented bands give one great performance.