Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals

Dr. Dre-affiliated Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals bring energy to Schine Underground

.Paak and his band, along with hip-hop artist SMINO, performed as part of University Union's Bandersnatch Series.

Concertgoers assembled in Syracuse University’s Schine Underground on March 23 to witness the performance of a Dr. Dre protégé from Oxnard, California. 

Anderson .Paak, the star of the show, was in town fresh off a critically acclaimed performance at SXSW in Austin, Texas. He took the stage around 9:30 p.m. dressed in red from head to toe, including fresh black and red Adidas sneakers, as well as a Tony Montana “Scarface” T-Shirt.

Photo: Amanda Piela
Rapper and singer Anderson .Paak performs for a lively crowd.

.Paak and his band The Free Nationals, which consists of a power trio of guitar, bass and DJ, ripped through crowd favorites like “Green Light,” "Luh You,” “Without You” and “Miss Right.”

SMINO, a hip-hop artist sporting dreadlocks from St. Louis, Missouri, opened for .Paak. He displayed a unique stage presence and a voice of his own by hyping up the crowd.

"Do y'all wanna dance or what?" said a smiling .Paak as he began his up-tempo song "Am I Wrong." The crowd flocked to the dance floor as the glowing stage lights shined down on them.

.Paak ended the song with a tribute to the late David Bowie by cleverly infusing "Let's Dance" into the mix. He also treated the audience to songs from his new "Malibu" album, as well as a track from Dr. Dre's "Compton." .Paak's soulful raspy vocals kept concertgoers heavily intriuged throughout his one hour set.

Twirling drumsticks, singing and rapping simultaneously, .Paak left the front microphone to play the drums. Amazed audience members even put down their cell phones to fully enjoy the moment.

“This is very authentic. We don’t get to see the rawness of the instrumentals. It’s not the same sound that we're used to. This is just so different,” said information technologies graduate student Candice Armstrong.

The crowd erupted with joy during .Paak’s last song “Drugs,” which infused elements of trap music and hard core rock and roll. The sonic energy of “Drugs” led to .Paak running out in the audience to perform inside a huge jumping cypher within the crowd, bringing the show to its peak.

After .Paak and The Free Nationals performed their 14 songs, the crowd left the concert elated.

“The show was amazing. I loved the energy [and] the music. He just came in and flowed. He got spirit-I love it,” said junior Eli Akinbamidele.

The concert was part of University Union's Bandersnatch Series, which brings emerging talent to perform at Syracuse University.

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