Each new academic year, a new artist headlines the Academic Program Council Welcome Week Concert. This year, Sean Kingston came to Charlottesville to delight students and ramp up the hype for the New Year.
UPC discontinued for the first time allusions to the artist coming to the John Paul Jones Arena on August 2. The clues included photos of Lebron James on a throne, a celestial Russian royal court and an electric dance floor – a clue to Kingston’s hit song “Fire Burning”. There were guesses for J. Cole, PitBull and Flo Rida. Some outrageous guesses included the Beatles and Beyonce herself.
UPC revealed Kingston as the entertainer about a week later on August 5. The lucky winners of a UPC raffle had the chance to meet Kingston before the concert. For those who didn’t, the first 500 guests received wristbands to watch the concert from the floor seats.
Kingston arrested by JPJ in the middle of his Road 2 Deliverance Tour — cancel a scheduled performance in St. Louis, Missouri — and promoting his fourth studio album “Deliverance” in eight years.
Doors opened at 6:30 p.m. for a 7:45 p.m. opening performance by a local band, bull moose partywhich is made up of community members and university students.
“I think this is a really good opportunity for U.Va. to allow students to open for big names like Sean Kingston, especially those who want to pursue a career in music,” said Danait Haddish, third year college student.
As the final students entered the arena, Bull Moose Party covered a host of popular tracks such as Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and an original song.
To begin the concert, the event director asked each section to make some noise before Kingston appeared on stage. After walking through each section and each row in a chosen section, the event director – in a surprise move – gave a meet and greet to the most fashionable member of the public. The winner immediately went backstage to meet the performer.
The crowd suddenly erupted in cheers and noise as Kingston took the stage and opened the concert with “Me Love”. He also performed songs that featured collaborations with other artists such as “Letting Go (Dutty Love) ft. Nicki Minaj” and “Eenie Meenie ft. Justin Bieber”.
Kingston even sang vocalist Iyaz’s “Replay,” a track he co-wrote with Iyaz and Jason Derulo in 2009. Many didn’t expect to hear the song and didn’t know of Kingston’s involvement in the production. from the hit of the 2000s.
“I was very surprised to hear this song,” said Brianna Seekford, a sophomore at the College. “I didn’t know he wrote that song.”
The night finally turned emotional, as Kingston turned off all the stage lights for the students to raise their flashlights for the song “Beautiful Girls.” Kingston remarked on how much the song meant to him and performed a touching rendition of one of his most recognizable tunes.
In a quick transition from the soulful performance, Kingston sang “Fire Burning”, arguably his best song. Audience members seated on the floor seats jumped up and down and the whole arena sang along. At times, Kingston was drowned out by students singing his song. The singer encouraged audience engagement. Kingston and company threw water on spectators on the ground to presumably put out the fire. This further excited the audience as he sang.
Some students marched as Kingston sang “Beat It ft. Chris Brown. Kingston collaborated with Brown in 2013, after Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault. In the song, Brown promises the girl he’s singing to that he’ll never hurt her – however, Brown has a well-documented history of woman abuse.
Kingston ended his set with a performance of “Dumb Love”. The students quickly left the arena discussing how much they enjoyed the concert and discussing other plans for the evening.
All in all, it was a full house and a pleasant start to the new academic year.