Asher Roth shows his love

Review: Asher Roth joins a motley crew of openers at The Westcott Theater to celebrate a Syracuse basketball win against South Florida on Wednesday.

With notably less ceremony than many of the artists who performed before him, Asher Roth finally walked onto The Westcott Theater stage a few minutes after Jamie Drastik left.

“I think it’s time I play the hits,” Asher Roth told a cheering crowd happy to finally see him.

Roth headlined at the Westcott after a mixed bag of five hip-hop acts, ranging from great to horrific. Roth’s show, the latest on his Final 4 Tour, began soon after the Syracuse Orange beat South Florida Bulls earlier on Wednesday.

Photo: Brandon Weight
Asher Roth performs his party-rap setlist at The Westcott Theater.

“You guys do know you’re the No. 2 team in the country, right?” Roth asked the crowd before starting his set.

The problem: The audience did know. They knew after the first time opening act, Mickey, asked them if they had seen the game, and after every rapper referenced it every time since then. The openers, apart from a few standouts, failed to impress much of the crowd.

One of them -- Jamie Drastik -- air-guitared, lip-synched, and danced onstage to hits by Sleigh Bells, Oasis, and Nirvana, hardly altered at all in mixing. The most discernible “performance” aspects of his show consisted of him repeatedly yelling, “Make some noise!” and “Turn the music louder!” into the microphone. Close to the end of his set, his microphone was switched off.

Highlights from supporting acts who managed to bring more to the table than what your little brother does in the shower included a breathless a capella finale from opening act Mickey, staccato headbanging from the night’s verb-spitter Apache Chief and ATM’s Snow White–referencing lyrics.

Roth’s closing set was similarly a mixed bag. Roth marked his set with delays and inane banter on where the crowd would be going next on this “Asher Roth Wednesday.” On multiple occasions, he wasted valuable performance time on an already-late set.

For the song “Blunt Cruisin,'” Roth tried to line crowd members onstage to perform with him -- a simple process that somehow sapped 10 minutes from his set. Was it worth it, just to illustrate the single line, “My homie’s in the front, got honeys in the back” in the land of make-believe? During the song itself, he started and stopped music every 10 seconds or so, as if he was hosting a game of high musical chairs. Multiple audience members groaned.

However, popular hit “I Love College” yielded a decent performance. Joined by fans onstage, Roth’s how-could-it-not-be-sincere chanting of “Chug! Chug! Chug!” took in sing-a-longs, cheers and dancing from the crowd, like a triumphant belch following a series of hiccups.

Still, Roth's projected affability and respect for his fans shone through the cracks in his performance. His best song before “College” was probably “Grind,” which he dedicated to the crowd. He even threw back to 1981, adding in a few verses of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache,” complete with teenage girls pulled from the front of the crowd.

Afterward, he thanked his fans, and everyone who performed before him, saying, “Without you, there is no me.”

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