I've never loved rap music. Hip Hop and Rap was never really my thing in high school. But when Carol City, Florida-based rapper Denzel Curry brought the house down at the Cohon Center's Studio Theater Saturday, Oct. 15 to a sweaty, capped room of 200 students, I completely changed my mind. Throughout the night, Denzel Curry brought the crowd on a wave of non-stop energy, lighting up the crowd with his verses, freestyles, and dominating presence.
The Activities Board’s second concert of the year did not disappoint, from the opening act’s first note to Denzel Curry’s final verse. MORGANTICS opened the concert playing and remixing tracks from current hip hop legends, while also playing his own original songs. He succeeded in setting up this really chill vibe and building anticipation for whatever Denzel Curry was about to bring later in the evening, while also lighting up the crowd with his heavy beats that reverberated through the speakers into the audience. Those things are really powerful. I felt the bass drop within every bone of my body. If you ever find yourself at another EDM concert, I recommend standing next to large, 20 feet speakers the entire night if you want to be a little deaf the next morning.
As soon as MORGANTICS finished, Denzel Curry made his presence known immediately as he came on stage. Putting his U up (I still don’t know what it stands for), and directing others to do the same, he commanded the crowd with this new yet familiar energy that made the place feel like a crazy Stage AE concert while still maintaining a distinct Carnegie Mellon vibe that felt comforting, invigorating, and dangerously thrill-seeking.
“Crazy,” “dangerous,” and “thrill-seeking” are a few choice words I’d use to describe the night. My friends and I, in the front, were on the unexpected receiving end of a lot of sweat, spit, and water that didn’t come from a flipped bottle. I had Playfair flashbacks, mingling with the crowd while we were crushed against the metal fence separating Denzel Curry from the audience, and I was second guessing its sustainability against 200 uber-hyped Carnegie Mellon students. The poor girl next to me was clearly not used to the situation at hand and looked a little uncomfortable. But I wouldn’t have traded my experience for anything else that night. The energy of the crowd was infectious and only made everyone more excited. Denzel Curry pumped up the crowd and made sure they didn’t get too rowdy, skirting the line between maintaining that balance while getting hyped himself. He also interacted with the crowd a lot, which I loved. He gave out a lot of sweaty high fives, got up in the faces of the crowd when he rapped, and it seemed like he wasn’t afraid to just be himself and have a great time with himself, his DJ, and his audience. He’d let loose on the stage with his dance moves, and when he’d mess up the verse he wasn’t ashamed to start over, giving us another show and somehow making him smile harder.
After a lot of deliberation, before his performance of his viral hit “Ultimate,” Denzel Curry even brought a guy on stage who wanted to crowd surf, as if the night wasn’t already crazy enough. A few people narrowly missed a shoe to the chin, and he was almost like a representation of what the night was like: a build-up of crazy, fun hype that refused to go down or take no for an answer. And Denzel Curry never failed to keep up that hype throughout the entire night from the first verse of the first song of the setlist “Zone 3” to the last beats of some new songs off his re-release of his second album Imperial, making for another great Activities Board concert and an even greater performance.