Rock the Dome debuts with throwbacks

Review: Rappers Rick Ross and Ludacris please large numbers with older songs at University Union's inaugural winter concert.

Krystie Yandoli loves rap. She loves it so much that her family even made a joke about it when she was growing up. Sometimes they call her Luda-Krys.

“I’m really excited to see my namesake,” said Yandoli, a senior English student, as she waited in the minutes before rappers Ludacris and Rick Ross took the stage to perform at University Union’s inaugural Rock the Dome concert. Yandoli was one of more than 7,000 who paid to see the duo.

Photo: Glorianna Picini
Rick Ross performs part of his 45-minute set at the Rock the Dome concert at Syracuse University.

Ross, clearly the less experienced of the two main performers, came on first, spitting rhymes for just over 45 minutes of underwhelming showmanship, billed as a “co-headling” act. Ludacris, on the other hand, impressed with his amazing body of hit single work, throwing back as far as the turn of the century to liven up a large crowd.

Ross’ set didn’t last long, and to be fair, his fellow performer, Wale—who has been to SU on two separate occasions in the past two years—did more throughout the night to entertain the crew. Whether during the awkward opening period of time where Rick Ross just happened to not be on stage for the first 15 minutes of the set, or throughout his set, Wale picked up the slack while Ross wiped his head with one of the 20-something towels on stage.

“I’m not a huge fan of Rick Ross,” said Jill Comoletti, a freshman studying magazine journalism. “I don’t think he’s that good a rapper.”

Unfortunately Ross proved that to be the case not once, but several times in the evening. The crowd swayed rather than danced through most of his set. And the fact that his DJ kept playing the distorted crashing of glass or “Muh-Muh-Muh-Muh Maybach Music” soundbites every thirty seconds or so didn’t help matters. Both soundbites, when tallied, easily repeated at least 20 times apiece throughout the night, if not more.

Luda made no such performance mistakes. In fact, rather than settle into anything, he performed a few verses or snippets of certain hit songs from his 10-year catalogue, only to segue into another easily recognizable hit. The fans loved the approach, expressed both through the substantially increased dancing in the later set as well as on Twitter.

“Luda’s been my jam since seventh grade,” senior Katie Van Brunt said. “He’s been around since like ’98, how could you not love him?”

The crowd did love him, so much that they sang or danced along to every cut he and Fate dropped for the crowd, taken from over a decade of number-one singles and platinum records. Among the cavalcade of one famous aughts radio rap tune after another, he and Fate played “Number One Spot,” “Area Codes” and “Get Back.”

“We've been doing this way too long,” he told the crowd. "I've got too many hits!"

One point that Ludacris hammered home the entire night, though, is that if you ever danced and enjoyed it at any point in the 2000s, you are probably a vintage Luda fan. The hits he and his cohort played ranged from some of the most widely played mainstream hip-hop tracks of the decade to guest turns on cuts by artists like DJ Khaled, Enrique Iglesias and Usher. Through it all he spat rhymes that flowed like a man at the top of his game, and only let go of the crowd’s attention to highlight the scratching skills of his backup beat-maker DJ Infamous.

When Ludacris came back after Infamous’s interlude, he put the crowd through its dancing paces again with “Stand Up,” a sped-up and hand-clap-assisted rendition of “How Low” and “Move Bitch.” He ended his set on “Get Back,” the song girls had been tweeting for even before he got on stage. And the finale came quickly, with the audience left wanting more.

Of course, the show had its issues. Both performers oddly concerned themselves with attendees’ best friends (“If you’re here with your best friend, point to them!” Luda said, echoing a Rick Ross command). Typical of hip-hop, both sets lapsed into inane expressions of disturbed sexual politics (if I had a penny for every time either of them used the word “b*tch” I could probably buy the Carrier Dome). Lastly, although billed by UU as a co-headlining show, in reality, Ludacris headlined, and Rick Ross opened for him (and lasted just over half as long).

Despite its minor shortcomings, for his part, UU President Rob Dekker said he was pleased with the concert and its turnout. According to a rough estimate by UU provided the night of the concert, the ticket sales broke past 7,000 sold. Not bad for a new concert in frigid early February, Dekker said.

“I hope we start a tradition,” he said.


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