When UB built the Center for the Arts in 1994, Jonathan Kirk was three years old.
He was just a baby.
Kirk, better known as rapper DaBaby, is now old enough to bring inflatable babies to the CFA in front of a crowd which was mostly born after the venue’s construction.
On Friday, he and Gunna made UB their playground in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,744 during the last Student Association Fall Fest of the decade. The $190,000 show, which undergraduates paid for with their $109 student activity fees, reflected the success of Fall Fests past. The two artists led the crowd in their hits and album cuts alike during the third show of this year’s Fall Fest Concert Series, sprinkling in bravado and a showcase of twerking women that got students on their feet.
The show came at the heels of an unexpected ticket release, which SA members apologized for after concerned students criticized the student government’s announcement process.
Some students claim they went through great lengths to score tickets but said it was worth it.
“I woke up at 6 a.m. for these tickets and I was still late, I was 30th in line,” said John Beauchard, an economics major. “I mean I just really wanted to come to the concert. DaBaby snapped, that’s who I came for.”
“Trap Fest,” as SA coined it, began with a Black Friday-esque stampede of students rushing through the CFA doors in excitement. Sophomore psychology major Awa Magassouba hurt her ankle and said she was “run over” in the rush. Another student lost her phone in the stampede of students who she described as “mobbin,” but a CFA employee later returned it.
“Whoever was behind was me was like, ‘BOW’ and then I fell,” said Tabbytha Greene, senior ecology major. “Then I was like, ‘oh s--t,’ people were running over me and I was like, ‘ah,’ and then I was like, ‘Damn, I can’t see my phone.’’”
As students filed into the show, Buffalo’s DJ Wire spun hits and classics alike. Sometime after students gave their best shot at Fast Life Yungstaz’ “Swag Surf,” DJ Wire subbed himself out for Gunna’s DJ, who dropped Pop Smoke’s “Welcome to the Party” to warm up the crowd.
Gunna made it “Hot” shortly after.
The rapper’s rapid-fire pace of trap beats and flex-laden bars kept UB fans excited. The rapper performed “Chanel (Go Get It)” and “Speed It Up” with ease as he donned a leather jacket and baby-blue Moschino pants.
On one occasion, Gunna hit the “woah.” As the crowd cheered him on and encouraged him to keep “woahing,” it was clear the XXL Freshman’s “woah” was something of a “woah”-nder.
During “Drip Too Hard,” he went out into the crowd to get up close and personal with fans, dapping them up and smiling as he showcased his trap monarchy.
DaBaby popped out next after an extended wait. Fans chanted his name and even a few Buffalo Bills players such as linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive end Shaq Lawson were seen backstage.
DaBaby opened with one of his hit songs, “Suge” followed by “Baby on Baby,” which he performed alongside a pair of dancing inflated babies. The highly anticipated trap artist then held a twerk contest, which consisted of one of six girls doing a split-twerk combo on stage, which he said was exclusively for UB students.
DaBaby posed with his top-tier swagger, showing out with his bright smile and ice on his neck all night. The rapper dug into album cuts like “21,” “Walker Texas Ranger” and “Baby Sitter.” He put some “Bop in it” and brought heat to the UB crowd, which was hungry for the rapper’s flair and coolness all night.
He closed the show and started the chant “KIRK Out,” a reminder that his high character and style has gravitated the Charlotte native to the top of the rap game.
Freshman psychology major Tayauna Green said she loved the show and said her favorite parts involved DaBaby.
“Obviously DaBaby, he’s just so fine — so fine,” Green said.
Giselle Perez, a freshman intended nursing major, said she thought the show was full of “a lot of good energy and a lot of good people.”
“People are really open and vibing together, I really appreciate that,” Perez said. “I was excited to see DaBaby and I knew he would hype us up. A lot of us are from the city, so this is very ‘city vibes.’ So in a place like Buffalo where you don’t see a lot of ‘the city,’ it really gives me nostalgia from back home in Queens.”
Benjamin Blanchet is the senior engagement editor for The Spectrum. His words have been seen in The Buffalo News (Gusto) and The Sun newspapers of Western New York. Loves cryptoquip and double-doubles.
Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.