Concert Review: B.o.B at Highline Ballroom
Turn on any top 40 or hip hop radio station and you’re likely to hear the infectious lyrics spit by one of the game’s finest young artists. Since exploding out of the gate with his 2010 debut album- “The Adventures of Bobby Ray,” Georgia’s B.o.B has been on an impressive streak of hit single after hit single. Collaborating with artists from Taylor Swift and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo to Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, the 23 year old rapper has seemingly left no stone unturned in harnessing his creativity. Sunday night, B.o.B headlined a free, sold out show at the Highline Ballroom presented by MySpace and Trojan Charged condoms in front of a sea of enthusiastic fans anxious to get a glimpse of one of hip-hop’s most rapidly ascending artists.
The MySpace Secret Shows series was hardly a secret this go around, with tickets being distributed at the Highline box office on a first come, first served basis starting on July 13th. Fans acted decisively as the supply of tickets vanished quickly, and the standing room only show was filled to capacity. Backed by a full house band and backing singers and dancers, the energetic emcee took the stage to a thunderous New York City ovation. The hour long set showed off B.o.B’s finest talents. From his guitar and keyboard work to his excellence as a performer, the bouncing frontman controlled the audience from the minute the lights faded to dim. Opener “Don’t Let Me Fail,” “Out of My Mind,” and “Bet I” were particularly rousing, amping the crowd up even further for the familiar hits that would follow.
B.o.B acknowledged the passionate audience without necessarily addressing them much. Genuinely content with the turnout, the rapper was clearly in a good mood with a set paced by his verses of collaborated singles. “Nothin’ On You” saw the crowd sing along to his every verse and even louder during the Bruno Mars led chorus, while Taylor Swift’s chorus during “Both of Us” served as a brief respite in between the rapper’s tongue twisting lyrical bursts. The show’s highlight however came as the sunglass camouflaged artist sat at his keyboard for an inspired version of “Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray),” which details an introspective struggle of an artist getting to be too big for his britches.
The evening would draw to a close with the haunting vocals of Paramore’s Hayley Williams during “Airplanes” followed by “Strange Clouds,” which shares the name of the album title of the artist’s sophomore effort released earlier this year. With a vociferous crowd of hip hop faithful chanting the young rapper’s name, B.o.B would re-emerge from backstage with a head banging closer- “So Good”- to the exhilaration of those lucky enough to have secured tickets inside of the jam packed venue. While B.o.B’s proficiencies as a rapper are certainly obvious, his abilities as a performer are perhaps even more impressive. Effortlessly fusing his range as a musician with his skills as a lyricist, B.o.B showed extraordinary artistic range on this night. And whether or not you’re a fan of hip hop, it was impossible not to marvel at the sheer talents on display from one of the next big names of the genre, whose star is destined to continue rising.
- Jane Van Arsdale