SA Fall Fest Concert Series closes out with a female-dominated performance

Ashanti, Tinashe and Queen Naija perform at CFA

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For the first time in over two decades, a UB festival exclusively featured female performers.

Grammy-winning artist Ashanti and pop artist Tinashe brought audience members on stage for a special performance during the Student Association’s Fall Fest Concert Series on Saturday night. R&B singer Queen Naija also opened the concert, the third of the three-show series. 

Seven hundred thirty-three students attended the show, while 1,176 students registered for tickets, according to SA entertainment director Sandeep Chakravarthy. This is an increase from the previous two concerts, which saw 600 and 400 students, respectively.

Attendance still fell below half the capacity of the CFA Mainstage, which holds 1,700 people. The cost for the evening totaled $166,700, according to SA entertainment coordinator Marc Rosenblitt. Production costs were $49,000 and talent cost $117,700. Cost per student came to $227.42, rising above the mandatory student activity fee of $104.75. 

The excitement began early as attendees rushed into CFA. Students pushed and shoved their way into the venue when doors opened for front-row seats. The Black Friday-esque rush had students quickly fill the front section of seats. Students continued to filter in during the opening minutes of the show. 

Tinashe provided a fast-paced standout performance. She energized the crowd with her choreography and supporting lighting effects. The set used flashy visuals on stage and featured clips from the artist’s music videos and lyrics for audience members to sing along to, adding to her vivid and eclectic performance. 

Tinashe proved she was more than a pop star, as her and her backing dancers broke into high-intensity dance sections in the middle of tracks like “Party Favors” and “Ride of Your Life.” 

Some of the audience became tired and sat down in the middle of the performance, despite Tinashe’s energy. At one point, Tinashe stopped to get people to stand up again, even addressing specific audience members to get up, calling out a fan in a denim jacket.

Daveri Hodge, a junior communication major, enjoyed Tinahse’s energy and overall talent throughout the evening.

“I think she’s a really good singer. She can dance, you know, she’s the whole package,” Hodge said. 

Tinashe performed tracks from her debut “Aquarius” and her newest work, “Joyride.” The audience reacted favorably toward tracks like “2 On,” “Me So Bad” and “Company,” which featured the first audience lap dance of the night.

Queen Naija took to the stage first, starting the show off on a simple, but moving level. Queen Naija’s opened with “Karma,” but her performance of “Mama’s Hand” made the evening more personal. The track featured sound clips of her son’s voice playing before the song, and the singer’s passion was clear through her moving vocal riffs.

Naija was determined to connect with the audience throughout her set, and she did. She asked to turn the house lights up to see the audience’s faces. Crowd members sang along to most of her tracks –– a rarity for a fest opener.

Sydne Jackson, a freshman theater performance major, was excited for Queen Naija’s opening set. She enjoyed both “Medicine” and “Butterflies,” as well as the depth of the set.

“To be honest, I didn’t really listen to Queen Naija before, but now, this concert really put me on to be honest. I really liked it,” Jackson said. 

Headliner Ashanti closed out the evening on a high note, formally introduced by her DJ. He was determined that CFA could give him more, saying “before Ashanti hits the stage I got to take it to a ten.” 

Elaborate video montages and intricate lighting effects set the stage for Ashanti. Most songs featured clips from their respective music videos, similar to Tinashe’s set.

Ashanti also made an effort to relate to the audience. She provided personal sentiments and background toward certain songs, telling the audience “I feel like, at the end of the day, we all go through the same s—t anyway.” 

But Ashanti had other ideas to mix up the set. 

Once the crowd was pumped up again, Ashanti performed at full force, entering the audience to take selfies, and even bringing an audience member on stage for a lap dance. Nothing was off limits to Ashanti, and her DJ agreed. 

“Buffalo, unlike other shows, we actually encourage you to try this at home,” he said, referring to the lap dance.

Many in the audience enjoyed the audience interaction. Vinny Murphy, junior theater major, said he was satisfied with performances of classic tracks like "Rock Wit U." 

Ashanti closed the final Fall Fest show on a high note with her performance of “Foolish.” Confetti filled CFA after Ashanti introduced the song, as the audience erupted one final time.

Julianna Tracey is an arts staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com