T-Pain Performs In Winston-Salem

Watching Tallahassee-Pain (that’s T-Pain to you) perform was an experience I’ll never forget and one some audience members may never remember. For one, it was a Wednesday, and I don’t think that I’ll ever find myself at a Student Union Spring Concert on a Wednesday in April ever again, mostly due to the fact that I’m graduating. Student Union, I will love you and your events forever and always.

After an opening performance by Sigala, T-Pain and his DJ/hype man took the stage in front of a crowd of loud students in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum the night of April 17. Did I mention it was a Wednesday? The crowd was really excited to see, in the flesh, the man behind iconic classics like “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper)” and “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin).” 

Wearing a hoodie that said “Wiscansin,” Mister T-Pain started his performance with gusto, showing off his ability to moonwalk, do the robot and perform that move where your head looks detached from your neck. After Googling it, I’ve been informed by “inthe80s.com” that it may be called the Snake or the Dolphin. He was an impressive dancer.

Throughout the concert, the flashbacks to middle school dances on a gym floor were vivid, especially because yet again, I was listening to T-Pain on a gym floor. Also, because during the song “Low,” you are socially obligated to “get low” and see the floor up close. Albeit the court was carefully covered by a temporary stage and pseudo-floor, because there is nothing Wake Forest is more dedicated to than keeping its gym floors pristine.

I heard a guy behind me comment, “Wrong school, bro,” which I assume was in reference to the “Wiscansin” hoodie. However, giving Tallah-Pain the benefit of the doubt, I did some research, and the hoodie was a very intentional choice; he knew that Wake Forest was no Badger school.

You see, Professor-of-the-Practice Pain has named himself the 22nd dean of Wiscansin University, whose website’s only functional page is where you can buy merchandise. Famous alumni listed include Lil’ Wayne, Chance the Rapper and B.O.B, who was actually born in Winston-Salem. I’m not sure if this is an inside joke among friends, a secret society or a jab at the legitimacy of Trump University, but T-Pain knew he was not at the “wrong school, bro.”

As he progressed through his setlist, many students were disappointed that he did not perform “Best Love Song.” Additionally, I couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t seem to sing any song in its entirety, instead opting to repeat the chorus a few times before switching it up. Maybe this was his way of keeping us on our toes, or maybe he, like the rest of the crowd, was in a rush to get to Last Resort’s afterparty. 

I was especially excited to go to his concert because, in February, T-Pain was crowned the winner of the first season of “The Masked Singer.” His performances on the show, whilst wearing a giant monster costume, were incredible, specifically his renditions of “Stay with Me” and “American Woman.” After having gained his original fame, and significant backlash, for his use of autotune, I think T-Pain may be tired of the songs which initially made him famous. Now that he’s proven he has an incredible natural voice and some serious stage charisma when he needs it, he may be ready to close the autotuned, “featured rapper” part of his career and move on to something new. 

However, here he is, stuck on this college tour singing hits from 2011. Maybe he’s just been on a college tour too long and he’s tired of performing for people 10 years younger than he, or maybe Wake Forest didn’t put him up in the Graylyn for his stay in Winston-Salem.

Either way, when some guys from the crowd attempted to crawl onto the stage, T-Pain told the audience that he had no problem walking off right then and there, expressing that he felt disrespected, and stating, in essence, “you know me, you know my past and you know that I’ll stop this concert right now,” (referencing when he walked off of a stage after getting hit in the head with a beach ball in February).

It’s difficult to rebrand yourself if you’re currently on tour with the same songs you were singing 10 years ago, so if that’s why he was upset, I can understand his frustration with feeling disrespected by the college crowd. However, he was set to perform at East Carolina University shortly after Wake Forest on April 23, so I’m not sure how that was going to go unless the stage was twice as high and there were no beach balls being passed around.

Overall, the concert was a lot of fun, and I think that T-Pain was a good choice of performer for Wake Forest’s spring concert. He had an entertaining stage presence and kept the audience in check. Soon, he’ll be touring his new album “1Up,” released in February, which I hope he’ll find more enjoyable than singing “I’m in Luv Wit a Stripper” for the ten thousandth time, as his wife and three kids sit at home.