UC Davis Students Go Wild at Isaiah Rashad Concert with High-Energy Performance REVIEW+PHOTOS: Isaiah Rashad at UC Davis 4/28/23
DAVIS, CA- Exhausted, bored, and on the brink of insanity, students at the University of California-Davis needed to do something to lay off during midterm season – and that’s when they heard the news: “Isaiah Rashad playing on Dairy Field this Friday for free.” Signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, Isaiah Rashad sits among stars like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and SZA. This was exactly what the students needed.
The usual dreary atmosphere had almost entirely dissipated as the week came to a close. On Friday, April 28th, I was speechless to see lines grossing over 6,000 students around the venue. A few local bands opened, including ByeMilo, who garnered a rather large audience in comparison to past Davis concerts. Nobody really knew the lyrics, but we all swayed and bobbed our heads. ByeMilo and his crew shuffled off stage and were replaced by OMA, whose members looked calm and collected as they set up to play for the long-awaited headliner.
The background music slowed; the tension building in the crowd was almost tangible. It was time, and everyone knew it. Bounding from the shadows of the stage, Isaiah Rashad was greeted by deafening screams. If you blinked, you missed it.
Isaiah radiated confidence, charm, and mystique as he sang “Stuck in the Middle” and others from his album The Sun’s Tirade. Multicolored lights illuminated the stage as he effortlessly captivated us, and I couldn’t help but put my camera down to enjoy his stage presence. It’s no wonder why he’s had such a successful career thus far; he was humble and visibly gratified as he heard his lyrics being repeated back to him.
Per persistent fan requests, Isaiah performed “Free Lunch.” With smooth melodies and rhythmic bass tied together by his raspy voice, this song is a true testament to his musical style. Isaiah’s career has come a long way since his debut album Cilvia Demo, yet the same nostalgic flow frequents his new music. His artistry varies from relaxed to passionate, always exhibiting powerful lyrics. And clearly, it was what UC Davis students were listening to.
The crowd was invigorated by his energy, and I watched in bewilderment as someone rolled on the ground in tears. He stopped for a few minutes to catch his breath and interact with us. “Students, huh?” Taking turns calling out our undergraduate majors, Medical Sciences gave the most feedback. “Since I didn’t graduate,” he asked, “can you guys graduate for me?” The crowd swelled and roared affirmatively.
Behind me, fans were shoving and squeezing between each other. Feet were stomped on, ribs were elbowed, and people were literally climbing each other to get closer to Isaiah. Students in the front row were being squashed against the barrier so ruthlessly that a few of them needed security to lift them out of the crowd. Flailing arms stretched over the barricade, and screams continued.
During his final number, he signaled the students to bounce, and bounce they did. One lucky fan had his wish granted when the singer signed his hat, and others were given their time to shine when Isaiah called on them to show off their moves. A sea of students danced in synchrony until the music finally ceased.
Isaiah thanked everyone and leapt down from the stage into the pit to shake the hands of the audience. I laughed when his security team yelled angrily “Not again!” and tried to pry him away from the barricade. Isaiah fought to the bitter end to show his appreciation for the students before he was eventually tucked into a car and driven away. An experience for the books, UC Davis will be buzzing about Isaiah’s performance for a while.
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