It may have been a typical chilly, damp Friday night in Rochester on Sept. 14, but it was just starting to heat up inside the Palestra. The alternative hip-hop duo known as Chiddy Bang descended upon UR in sold-out style, delivering a show that has the potential to become a campus legend.
Although the group has only been on the music scene for a few years, they have made a name for themselves in popular culture with their hit singles “The Opposite of Adults,” which sold almost 1 million units worldwide last year, and “Ray Charles.” Their sound is a unique mix of alternative, electronica and hip-hop, created by taking samples of songs by artists such as MGMT, Sufjan Stevens, the Gorillaz and Ellie Goulding, and adding their own original, tremendously catchy rap lyrics.
Chiddy Bang’s beginnings are just about as humble as one can imagine: A few short years ago, Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin were introduced by a now ex-band member, mere freshmen in college.
Like any savvy musical group of the digital age, they publicized their self-produced songs on MySpace, attracting a small online following and promotion from the popular music blog Pretty Much Amazing. In 2009, they released their first mixtape, “The Swelly Express,” earning critical acclaim and more attention from mainstream audiences. The next year brought the mini-mixtape “Air Swell,” followed by “Peanut Butter and Swelly” in 2011, and finally “Breakfast,” released earlier this year.
As concertgoers began to gradually fill up the Palestra at 8 p.m., hip-hop artist CyHi da Prynce warmed up the crowd’s spirits and bodies as he got people moving and allowed them the opportunity to perfect their dubstep arm movements. Although several murmurings of “Who?” swept through the crowd when he mounted the stage, he exited to a chorus of enthusiastic cheers. As 9 p.m. drew nearer, the floor area became packed with animated fans — mostly UR students, with a sprinkling of students from other schools and even some high schoolers. Luckily there was no risk of a bad view of the stage — even from the bleachers — but students had the option of shelling out two extra dollars to be adorned with a green wristband admitting them to the floor.
Soon after the restless crowd began chanting the duo’s name, the two men emerged on stage and led off with an energetic tune. From the get-go, the audience eagerly danced and swayed along with the songs, matching them beat for beat.
The last lingering rumbles of thunder outside were easily drowned out by the booming base that shook the building, at one point even causing the crowd to stop dancing for a moment just to experience the intense vibrations.
The duo were friendly and interactive performers, and the songs flowed easily. Fun fact — Anamege holds the title for the Guiness World Record for longest freestyle. Yep, an incredible nine hours, 18 minutes and 22 seconds of non-stop rapping. He demonstrated his skills by freestyling Friday, taking suggestions from the crowd as inspiration; and, of course, only at UR would someone passionately yell out “fiber optics!” at a rap concert. Although he was slightly bemused (we tend to have that effect on people), Chiddy rapped custom verses about UR and (because we are a nerdy school) optics, to the delight of the audience.
While the crowd was certainly able to “feel the beat,” it was difficult to clearly hear the lyrics or even the music. The overall volume and strength of the bass were excessive and detracted from the ability to enjoy the music.
The length of Chiddy Bang’s performance — or lack thereof — was also disappointing. They were on stage for scarcely more than an hour before they the crowd bid farewell — and then performed one encore. Perhaps it was merely the sign of an overall good show that the crowd wandered, slightly dazed, back out into the disconcertingly quiet night wanting more.
So what’s next for this busy duo? After departing the lovely city of Rochester, they will be jetting off to sunny Australia to perform in the Parklife Festival.
Also, their new mixtape, “Grab a Plate,” is reportedly being released at some point this year. Maybe their experience in Rochester will inspire yet another song — after all, weren’t they talking about us when they wrote, “Now I’m rippin’ up shows and ‘em fans goin’ wild wid us?”
Ganeles is a member of the class of 2015.