B.o.B. sparks middle school flashbacks—both the good and the ugly

When UBG announced B.o.B as this year’s big event, my middle school self rejoiced. Finally I would hear, in their most pure form, the songs that accompanied my awakening to the joys and the sorrows of middle school dances. And I must say, I relived both this past Sunday night.

The night started off promising—a media pass (courtesy of The Mirror and my mediocre camera skills) allowed me entrance to the little space between the stage and the gate, holding screaming fangirls back. Settled in between security and the other more professional photographers, I would soon be within reaching-distance of B.o.B. The thrill was almost too much.

The opener, local hip-hop artist Denham, performed for a decently enthused crowd, and he was quite good. The first sign that this night would feature recurrent ‘what-the-hell’ moments, however, was when Denham, dressed in Oxford dress shoes, suspenders and a floppy hat, lept from the stage into the crowd (a distance of probably 5 feet or more), which really only served as a buffer for his quick descent to the concrete floor.

The man recovered almost instantly, and a second attempt proved more successful.

Then B.o.B. came out, and overtaken by his semi-outdated celebrity status, I freaked out. I started snapping pictures like there was no tomorrow as he said to the crowd,

“Hi, I’m Bob, and no matter what y’all heard about me, I’m not crazy—I’m f—— out of my mind!” To which, of course, he began performing his hit song “Out of My Mind.”

The crowd went wild.

I didn’t recognize the next couple songs, but my world lit up when he finally played “Beautiful Girls,” the soundtrack which mesmerized us for the entirety of seventh grade. I am not ashamed to admit that I knew every word, along with most of the crowd.

I found myself smiling while thinking of younger me singing the 2000s hit. What a simpler time.  

But then, the night took a turn toward the creepy when B.o.B brought four girls on the stage for another hit song “Headbands.” Now, I am not a prude, but I found the scene of 30-year-old B.o.B. dancing, in let’s just say, a not-so-innocent way, on girls who can’t legally buy alcohol, more than a little cringy. And judging by the horrified faces of those sober enough to register what was going on, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Maybe I am a prude, but I felt like I needed a shower after that, kind of like how you feel after a middle school dance—just gross.

I became even more perplexed when B.o.B. started throwing out signed cartons of coconut water and encouraging the crowd to “hydrate your soul,” which they then started chanting. At this moment, I was mostly just confused.

But then, the moment we all were waiting for, the song that defined a generation, the quintessential B.o.B. feature—“Airplanes.” Despite the fact that most of the song was just the track playing Haley Williams’ part while B.o.B. came in for his few lines and mimed an actual airplane with his arms, the moment was pretty cool. Overall, the night was sometimes a little weird, sometimes a little creepy, with B.o.B. coming off as an overrated hype man more than a rapper. But in the end, students had a good time, I had a good time and it brought back songs I had forgotten I used to love so much.

I don’t know if I would ever see B.o.B again– in fact, I know I wouldn’t– but I’m glad I went. Well done, UBG.

Rapper B.o.B, known for his hit song “Airplanes,” performs for Augustana students at The District on Nov. 11, as part of UBG’s Big Event. Photo by Grace Wallin.

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