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Event: T-Pain vs. Old Crow Medicine Show

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, Florida hip-hop artist and rapper T-Pain came to Burruss Hall to perform seventy-minutes of his greatest hits. The event almost filled the 3,000-seat Burruss, which spoke to T-Pain’s relevance despite his not releasing an album since 2011. He was the fifth rapper to come to Virginia Tech this school year, after Sage the Gemini, Juicy J, Chance the Rapper, and Trinidad James, but the first one I actually went to see. My only other concert experience in this venue was Old Crow Medicine Show, and I noticed lots of differences and similarities between the two shows.

The most noticeable difference was the presence of instruments for Old Crow and the absence for T-Pain. Old Crow had at least twice as many instruments as they did band members, constantly switching during breaks and sometimes mid-song. But T-Pain had a DJ with a turntable (possibly just a computer), another rapper, and himself. In a way, this allowed T-Pain to focus the show on his lyrics and beats and dancing—which was surprisingly impressive, whereas OCMS spent a lot of time showcasing the breadth of their musical talents. But both seemed appropriate for their specific audiences, who, with few exceptions (like myself), were also very different.

The audience for Old Crow deliberately went to see the show. Generally speaking, they bought their tickets far in advance, showed up early, waited in line, found their seats, and were ready for a good time. The age range was vast; I saw young parents with young children as well as a few elderly couples, and every age in between. I can’t quite remember why I know this, because Old Crow was way back in November, but there were a lot of townspeople in attendance (i.e. non-VT community members). Appalachian people coming to an Appalachian show— recalls many class discussions of place. The majority of OCMS songs relate to Appalachia (“Carry Me Back to Virginia,” “Tennessee Pusher,” “James River Blues,” “New Virginia Creeper”), and Appalachian people identify with that. For T-Pain, however, I saw a specific age range (VT and Radford students ages 18-25) and saw first-hand that the show was not a priority. Many of my friends decided last minute whether or not to go, and many people rolled in late. Some students were under the influence and clearly had no intention of remembering the show. I tried not to compare it to OCMS, but two concerts in the same auditorium are destined to be contrasted. Old Crow seemed to make people much happier than T-Pain did, since the audience could relate to the band members and their Appalachian heritage. T-Pain, being from Florida and being much more obscene, was more difficult to relate to. And that’s the difference between a memorable concert and a non-memorable one. While very exciting and fun to dance to, T-Pain paled in comparison to OCMS in terms of audience- and area-relatability.


Old Crow video

Old Crow at Burruss Hall, November 2014


T-Pain video

T-Pain at Burruss Hall, April 2015

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