|T-Pain (far right, I think) dazzles the crowd.|
I didn't really know about American Authors when they were announced as the Welcome Week concert act for August 28, 2015. But I happened to hear "Go Big or Go Home" on Sirius radio shortly thereafter and was intrigued. Could this finally be the big name and current artist we have always wanted for the Welcome Week concert? So I downloaded their album "Oh, What a Life," and couldn't believe my ears. First, I also recognized "Best Day of My Life," but more importantly, I fell in love with the rest of the album: catchy, smart, great to run to, and upbeat. You know they are good if they aren't in the VMA line-up.
When word came that they needed to change the date of their Trinity gig (yes, I wrote "gig"), I encouraged the Program Board and Student Government Association to make it work. They did exactly what you would expect: they ignored me. They thought the date mattered more than the talent. Instead, they booked a rap artist named T-Pain.
I think I was the only one who was disappointed - though SOMEONE (some students) had to initially book American Authors. The biggest complaints I heard about American Authors was that they were too mainstream and seemed like a knock-off of Imagine Dragons. Well, that's not bad company. American Authors was on Good Morning America this summer which should count for something. But students have always liked more obscure bands because they seem more hip as a lot of people don't know them yet.
|My American Authors t-shirt in the trash.|
When T-Pain was announced the students were really excited. I had never heard of him, so checked iTunes and couldn't believe I had not been exposed to "I'm in Luv with a Stripper,""Booty Wurk (one cheek at a time)," or "Up Down (do this all day)."
The Program Board was left with several hundred unusable "American Authors" T-shirts and I was left with "Shawty Get Loose." T-Pain rose to fame several years ago, and like Sister Hazel and Bowling for Soup, before, was not an up-and-comer, but seemed more of a down-and-outer. I think we really did peak with Pat Green and Cory Morrow, and possibly hit a low with Tyga from last year.
In my day (yes, here he goes) I had my favorites that older people didn't get either. Warren Zevon with his crass "Excitable Boy," Jackson Browne with "Rosie," and even Bruce Springsteen with "Red-headed Woman" weren't beyond reproach. Every generation has its envelope pushers, from Elvis the Pelvis, to the Beatles, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their socks. And no, I don't really like rap.
But T-Pain was awesome. I couldn't understand most of the words, except "stripper" and "shake it." But despite the lack of instruments, he, his co-singer, and his hype-man were full of energy and had the students worked into a bit of a frenzy. I had to admit, I couldn't see American Authors doing that. I was the oldest non-uniformed person there (not counting TUPD and Student Involvement Director Jamie Thompson's dad). I was also the dad of the youngest one there (not in a stroller, Melissa Flowers!). I had to ask students which one was T-Pain (and later, some actually asked me). But I was impressed that the group wore the Trinity t-shirts they were gifted and seemed to also feed off the crowd.
I would learn later that they were pleasant guests and when they left our version of the "green room" that the Cartoon Network was still playing on the telly. They were apparently among our more polite and gracious concert acts. Tyga.
I don't anticipate downloading any T-Pain music. But I was reminded that I can be wrong sometimes and that I should let students be students. They didn't listen to me and when American Authors wins a Grammy next year I can say "told you so." The students had a blast and I haven't heard anything but positive comments. And who knows, maybe by this time next year Carly Rae Jepson will be on her way down, and available.