Little Brother met by unexcited audience

Williams students may claim that they function by a “work hard, play hard” mentality, but last Friday”s Little Brother concert suggested that there are sometimes limits to that mantra. As one who attended the mildly anticipated show, which was sponsored by ACE and took place in Baxter Hall of the Paresky Center, I can vouch for this fact. While the Durham-based hip hop group lived up to their reputation for solid beats, lackluster audience participation kept their performance from being truly successful.

Not a hip-hop aficionado, I was outnumbered amongst the predominately male crowd that filled between two-thirds to three-quarters of the hall at different points of the night, not including onlookers from the balconies above.

The most noticeable impression of the performance was its discrepancy with the setup and theme of the hall – the bluntly stated “Barn Dance” adorning an arch upon entrance along with bales of hay and freely distributed bandanas and cowboy hats were decidedly out of place in contrast with the music itself. There is something disconcerting about “putting your fist up” when dressed like a cowboy – a sentiment I was not alone in sharing, evident by the fact that the first song”s requests to do so I found myself one of the only people complying, somewhat sheepishly.

That all said, parts of the concert were not so mild, and halfway through the audience grew fairly lively. Little Brother”s strongest moments occurred when they invoked Eph pride, appropriate for the weekend, garnering audience cheers and enthusiasm (though these expressions of support did contrast with their comments earlier in the performance, when they expressed their trepidation towards the seemingly isolated and rural campus). Chanting a choice four-letter word accompanied by “Amherst” was a predictable hit in raising the audience”s awareness and excitement – although this word was later used in a song I found myself put off by, in a call and response invocation to, euphemistically, “mess up some females.”

Overall, the show was alternately fun and half-hearted, but this was not to be attributed to the music itself. After the performance, I spoke to a number of students, from whom I gathered that the audience was fairly evenly split between having a genuine good time and insincere fun (which may or may not have been related to BAC).

The music of Little Brother lived up to its reputation, and their last few numbers were especially good. The songs in the beginning of the set did sound pretty similar, while the end numbers had stronger bass lines and hooks, and a female vocalist which all strengthened Little Brother”s sound. By the end of the performance, the audience was dancing (some even on stage) and all had a good time, even if somewhat sporadically.

Vulgar, yes; engaging, yes. I would consider myself safely in the majority of Ephs who are not rap connoisseurs, but even without this knowledge I still appreciate the concert as good music – however, I”m also not uncomfortable saying it missed the mark for a majority of attendees. The late and slow-to-start concert took a long time to build momentum and had its share of awkward moments amongst its memorable ones. With a group of high energy, slightly intoxicated college students, it”s hard to match their level of energy, and perhaps for that reason Little Brother came off as slightly too mellow. Overall, while the music was enjoyable, the concert was inconsistent with the theme and mood of the evening and attendees, and thus fell short of its potential to as a big event of Homecoming weekend.