Editors’ Note: Although there is no profanity in this article, some of the artists mentioned do have explicit lyrics in their music.
On January 27th, Richmond’s The National was given life by world-renowned rap artist Kodak Black. The Florida-born nineteen-year old is most famously known for his hit songs “No Flockin” and “Too Many Years,” both of which he played during his set. The National is a semi-intimate concert venue located in downtown Richmond. Despite its size, it has hosted many famous artists, such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Umphrey’s McGee, and Dark Star Orchestra. The National thrives on its smaller size and boasts a lofty overhanging second floor which is sometimes used for VIP attendees. The concert officially started at 8:00 p.m., but since the opening artist was a “Surprise Guest,” which did not get our hopes up, I did not arrive with my fellow fans until 9:30. My previous experiences at The National and showing up this late have not been a problem; however, the building was absolutely packed when we arrived. Body-to-body with strangers, this concert was certainly not a good one to attend if you are claustrophobic. When we arrived the concert was already in full swing, even though Kodak had not yet come out. Jumping and screaming at the top of their lungs, the crowd was a rowdy group.
Because we arrived so late we only had two choices: cut our losses and stand in the back, or fight our way towards the front. We chose the latter of the two and decided to try to move closer, but this turned out to be harder than we thought. I, unfortunately, had to be the one to spearhead the operation. I began my charge to the front (somewhat meekly) and was only met by angry stares as I bumped into the backs of the people that had arrived before me. I began to become more aggressive, and slowly I pushed and shoved my way between literally, and I really mean literally, shoulder-to-shoulder strangers. A little bruised, embarrassed, and already sweating profusely, I had made my way closer to the front by around 10:00.
The sheer number of people jumping and moving around turned the building into what felt like a sauna. Surrounded by people, it was hard to get a breath of fresh air and even some personal space.The constant bumping into the people around you, who were equally overheated, compounded and led to a truly gruesome scene. Fortunately, being 6’3’’, I was able to tower over the crowd to see the stage and get some fresh air, but smaller people were not so lucky. Our very own SCA co-chair Olivia Jacobs (‘17) was met with a very different experience than I. “Kodak Black put on an interesting concert. The National was packed and some points in the concert I could barely breathe, it was a lot of sweat and loud music. It was really difficult for me to even see Kodak above the hoards of people surrounding me. As someone who is pretty claustrophobic, my Kodak Black concert experience was quite terrifying.” The heat and constant impact of strange bodies, combined with heated passions and temperature, formed a perfect storm of small altercations. I saw numerous scuffles break out around me throughout the concert, but I never felt unsafe.
There was no schedule for when Kodak was supposed to come out and perform, but it was obvious that the crowd wanted him soon. Even though the DJ was playing absolute bangers, the crowd was not having it. This frustrated me; people had payed up to $65 to come to the concert, and they just complained about having to wait for Kodak while not even having fun. Why not just enjoy the concert? Shouts of “This DJ sucks!” and “I paid for Kodak, where is he?” filled the building. I just enjoyed the music. Rap concerts, or even most concerts in general, rarely start on schedule. Complaining about them not being out yet is not only a waste of your time, but a waste of the experience.
When Kodak finally came out around 10:40, he was met by a roar of excitement. All previous frustrations were forgotten, and the real show was about to begin. He ran out onto the stage and immediately began to talk about why he was late; he had been getting a bacon cheeseburger at the Five Guys down the street. The crowd laughed, and his set began with a positive atmosphere. Kodak ingeniously opened with one of his most upbeat and popular songs, “There He Go.” The bass was loud, and the crowd was screaming the lyrics as loud as they could. Kodak was finally here and worth the wait. After Kodak finished his first song, he began an unexpected soliloquy about why Virginia was special to him. Even though he was born in Florida, Kodak has a special connection to Virginia as it was the state he was arrested in. He talked about how now that he was out, he was a changed man. The concert continued, and Kodak moved on from hit to hit. Mid-concert he performed an a capella version of “No Flockin” and then performed it again normally, which was easily one of the highlights of the night.
Kodak performs only accompanied by a DJ, but the stage was full with many of his friends and a select few lucky fans. His set was just under two hours but was filled to the brim with music. Kodak moved from song to song with barely any downtime. He often performed half of a song and then used a planned transition into another so that he could hit all of his classics. Often times it is hard to understand what a rapper is saying, even in their studio tracks, but Kodak was very articulate. Even while wearing a grill, he was relatively easy to understand, a concern that I had had before the show.
Kodak performed very excitedly for the whole concert and was vocal about how much he liked the crowd. Although I unfortunately had to leave before the end of the concert, I have no regrets in attending Kodak Black’s performance. He turned what I thought would be a gimmick show into a seriously enjoyable experience. I would love to see Kodak again, and if you ever get the chance I recommend that you see one of his shows.
Featured image via Kodak Black on twitter.