By Thomas Infante
A sea of students stood in the Student Recreation Center — forming mosh pits and engaging in water fights in between periods of adrenaline-fueled singing and dancing — but all eyes were on Atlanta rappers Lil Yachty and Lil Jon, who performed for the College Union Board’s Lil Fall Concert on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Lil Yachty took the stage and immediately launched into a rendition of his 2016 single “Bentley Coupe.” With a giant anchor projected behind him, he strutted around the stage, shouting his delightfully repetitious lyrics at the eager crowd. The rapper jumped and banged his head to the bass-heavy rhythm of the beat, each time sending his red dreadlocks cascading around his head.
As the song wound down, the rapper faced the audience and half-asked, half-commanded, “Can I get a ‘Lil Boat’?”
The crowd roared back, “Lil Boat!” Lil Yachty giggled into the microphone.
“Everybody have a good Thanksgiving and shit?” The crowd cheered in response as the rapper began performing his 2016 single “Ice Water.” Despite the song’s lyrical references to ice, even Lil Yachty couldn’t ignore the sweltering temperature inside the Rec Center.
“It’s hot as a motherfucker in this bitch,” Lil Yachty said, casting off his colorful sailing jacket adorned with many patches and flags. Sympathetic to the sweaty concertgoers, Lil Yachty and his onstage entourage proceeded to take the caps off some water bottles and douse members of the audience.
“Now for this next song I need y’all to jump out of your feet,” the rapper said before performing the song “Wanna Be Us” from his debut 2016 mixtape “Lil Boat.”
Despite the physical impossibility of the request, the crowd managed to get impressive airtime, jumping in unison with Lil Yachty as the beat dropped.
The song’s trap drums, heavy bass and silvery synthesizers kept the energy high, and many couldn’t resist singing along to lines like “I keep them hoes like a ferry, my hair be red like a cherry.”
The audience only became more ecstatic once the opening notes to Kyle’s hit single “iSpy” came through the speakers. Lil Yachty primarily let the audience sing the chorus, waiting to deliver his verse with ferocious intensity. While the recorded version has a mellow vibe, Lil Yachty approached this one with more energy, passionately shouting lyrical gems such as “all my bitches come in pairs like balls in my nutsack.”
Lil Yachty kept the lively atmosphere going with the songs “Harley,” “Dirty Mouth” and his rendition of “Peek A Boo.” The audience continued its exhilarating romp, with Lil Yachty himself chanting for a mosh pit that began toward the front of the crowd.
“I wanna see how many people can crowdsurf at one time,” the rapper challenged the audience during a performance of his song “Shoot Out the Roof” from his mixtape “Summer Songs 2.” The crowd elevated about a dozen students, most of who travelled only a few feet overhead before plummeting to the floor.
After the song, the rapper paused the music and spent about 10 minutes tossing bottles of water out to members of the audience.
“It’s time for something we do called the boat test,” Lil Yachty said. “For the boat test we travel all over the place — all around the world — trying to figure out who’s the most motherfucking lit.”
Everyone was told to hold onto the bottles, then open the caps and throw the water over people next to them once the next song started.
As a bombastic performance of the single “Mase in ’97” began, audience members sprayed people around them with water, turning the crowd into Lil Yachty’s “Lil Ocean.”
He followed the water fight with a performance of D.R.A.M.’s 2016 single “Broccoli,” which had most of the audience singing along. This was one of the several songs in his set that only feature him on part of the track, but his presence on each was memorable enough to engage the audience and keep his set sonically diverse. Naturally, Lil Yachty always saved his strongest performances for his own tracks.
“Are you guys tired?” he asked the audience after the end of the song. “If y’all not tired say ‘Hell no!’”
After a hearty “hell no” from the audience, Lil Yachty said, “For this next song I’m not gonna tell anyone what to do, I just wanna see y’all at level 10.”
The audience followed through upon hearing the opening piano melody of “Minnesota,” which Lil Yachty followed with his hit single “One Night.” The blue stage lights shone like laser beams across the crowd as the sparkly synthesizer beat enveloped the space, giving the Rec Center an ethereal quality disrupted only by the tennis court lines painted on the floor.
For his finale, Lil Yachty cut the stage lights and instructed the audience members to hold up their phone flashlights.
“I got one more song for all the real Lil Yachty fans here,” he said before singing his song “Forever Young.” After the song, he stayed onstage and caught cell phones thrown to him by the audience, taking a few selfies with them before tossing them back.
Rapper Lil Jon opened the show, keeping the audience hyped with a mix of dubstep and rap remixes. For the majority of his set, he acted as DJ and human soundbite, screaming Lil Jon-isms like “yee-aah,” “awww shit” and “turn the fuck up!” to everyone’s delight.
Toward the end of his set, Lil Jon abandoned the turntables to address the audience.
“Who here knows where the fuckin’ window is?!” he asked as the audience pointed to their collective right. “And who knows where the muthafuckin’ wall is?!” The audience motioned in the opposite direction, and Lil Jon began a performance of “Get Low.”
The Lil Fall Concert was, despite its title, one of the loudest and most spirited in years. The show exhibited how truly awesome it is when, as Lil Jon says, “ATL is in the building.”