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Friday, February 03, 2023

Fetty Wap performs at Orpheum

The first thing I see outside the venue of Fetty Wap’s concert is a blur of teenagers. I’m convinced that the rate of underage drinking at this concert is as high as the percentage of white students that attend UW-Madison. A guy cries to his friend about getting kicked out for being drunk, but what do you expect when you’re half standing and throwing up? He proceeds to blatantly curse at the security guard, then runs away, comes back and does this about four times.

Inside, the Orpheum Theatre is packed to full capacity. I wonder if all these white people actually listen to Fetty Wap or if the concert is just the “move” for the weekend? I was honestly uncomfortable watching and listening to these people proclaim trivial words they would never say in a space of brown and black people.

The only place where there isn’t a mob of teens is at the side bars, reminding me that everyone attending the show is barely of legal drinking age. The opening music is odd; why would Adele’s “Hello” play as an opening turn-up song? Ironically, everyone is singing along. The crowd grows tense and people begin to get pushed in the front. I make my way upstairs where the stench of alcohol and odd questions like, “Oh my gosh do you love Post Malone? I love Post Malone,” have diminished.

This isn’t just a Fetty Wap show. I noticed more hype and attention when Post Malone comes on -- the last act before Fetty Wap himself. Around me, teens and adults shuffle to pull out their phones and document their night on Snapchat. I actually watched the girl next to me videotape the entire concert...that’s a lot of storage space gone. Nearby, a girl loses her phone and is in tears, asking, “Where is my phone? I need to post about Post Malone.”

Post Malone opens with his Top 40 hit “White Iverson,” and the teenagers know every last word. This awkward space fills the theater when he continues to perform more of his songs, ones that people probably haven’t heard because they haven’t made the mainstream radio. I vividly remember Malone slurring a song with the chorus “wassup with that wassup” for five minutes. He performs a five-song set list and closes his set with “White Iverson” again. I find that choice to be a cop-out. By then, I’ve lost interest. Then again, I’ve never really found him to be a true artist, just more of a turn-up performer.

Finally, in a Wisconsin crewneck, Fetty Wap walks on stage. He chuckles a little before belting “1738.” The teenagers don’t seem to know more than the mainstream hits. Part of me believes that people were more interested in Post Malone than Fetty Wap. The top level of the theater has more than half of the audience sitting down.

I’m forced to watch the beginning of Fetty’s set from the phone screens of the people in front of me. Teens take videos and photos throughout the entire night. Needless to say, Fetty seems to genuinely enjoy the presence of the audience and the reciprocated adoration he receives.

Fetty wastes little time before bringing one of his best friends, Monty, onstage. Of the 20 song tracklist on Fetty’s self-titled album, Monty is featured on nine songs. While onstage, they both command one side, casually switching between songs and posing for pictures in the process. The crowd is mesmerized and by the third song, phones are finally starting to disappear.

At the end of “Again,” Fetty tells the crowd why he’s been a little down lately; he talks about an accident in which he broke three parts of his leg, yet no one seems to pay attention to the story. I won’t knock Fetty’s actual vocal ability. It’s actually pretty good. “I’m telling ya’ll I’m not always on that auto-tune shit, I’m the real deal,” Fetty states after an impressive vocal run. His live vocals proved why his auto-tuning on his album is by choice and not artistically necessary.

His performance—eh, not so great. His stage presence comes off as uninterested, maybe disconnected. Fetty plays almost all his mainstream hits for a little less than an hour. It seems that the two opening acts and the numerous Top 40 hits took up more time than his actual performance.

There’s an odd lack of communication at the end, and no one is really sure when the show ended. Fetty didn’t actually say, “this is the last song,” or “goodnight, thank you for coming.” I guess he thought it was implied.

Nonetheless, Fetty closes the show with “Trap Queen,” but this time, without the original heavy beat chorus that we’ve known since 2015. This time, he closes it out by cutting the beat short, and letting the crowd sing “Trap Queen” to him a capella.

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As I leave the theater, everyone seems misguided and lost, looking for their friends, but probably drunk. The show wasn’t the best I’ve seen, but it was entertaining. This concert reminded me of the connection that still applies through the use of music as a communication motive. To little surprise, I don’t believe there lies any appreciation between the hip-hop music and the audience in Madison, Wis. I don’t like the idea of people at a rap concert, if they only know what’s popping on the radio.

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