Concert Review: Waka Flocka Flame @ High Dive (February 16th, Gainesville)

First and foremost, I feel obligated to tell you, dear reader, that I am not really a Waka Flocka Flame enthusiast. I live in a brick house, my housemates self-identify as the “Bricksquad,” and as a result his music is often blasted ad nasueam before we go out. Consequentially, I’ve become an extremely unceremonious fan of his work. The novelty is alluring, his music is aggressively light-hearted, and for what it is, I find it somewhat enjoyable. Do I enjoy him like I enjoy the legendary rappers, like Wu-Tang, Tupac, or Biggie? Not at all. Hell, I don’t even love him the way I mildly enjoy fellow novelty-rapper Wiz Khalifa, who was just in town. Not even Biz Markie and Waka are on the same level for me. No, I enjoy Waka Flocka Flame the same way I enjoy Waffle House after a night of ignoring the little voice in my head that tells me to stop drinking. Is it good? Fuck no. Is it good enough? Always. Waffle Flocka Flame House is always reliable, humble in its (his) own way, and totally unconcerned about criticism. It exists on its own merit, passionately yet indifferent on its own rite, and I truly love it for what it is, nothing more, nothing less.

With this attitude in mind, my experience at the show was marvelous. Tuesday night, High Dive was inundated with irony paired with self-awareness. My housemates and I arrived just in time to watch three hours-worth of sub-par openers. I figured I’d give them a shot, since I am at a Waka concert after all. I’ll spare you the details, but the performers were disappointing. The first one took one too many Xanax’s. The second was rapping underneath a hockey mask, so nobody knew what he was saying. The third was actually mildly refreshing in terms of talent, but lacked the energy necessary for what the crowd was anticipating.

Then Waka graced the stage. He came out alongside with eight other squad-members, all dressed in Bricksquad gear. Waka himself wore a red leather snapback hat with his record labels logo affixed to the front of it. But it wasn’t Waka that I noticed when he came out and introduced himself while Hard In Da Paint played in the background. It was the crowd.

During the warm-up acts, the crowd was excitable and well mannered. It may not have been a conscious assumption, but I foolishly figured that they would remain at this kind of atmosphere for the remainder of the evening. When Waka came out, the crowd lost its collective shit. A quasi-mosh pit evolved from what was otherwise just temperate head-bobbing. I, standing at an intimidating 5’7”, weighing in at a ferocious 135 pounds, was then thrown around like a spineless rag-doll at the glorious mercy of this crowd.

Waka had not even finished his first song before he began smoking copious amounts of cannabis. Luckily for him, 20 hastily assembled blunts emerged from the crowd, waiting to greeted by Waka. I can assure you when I say that Waka was not a rude host, and met all of his guests throughout the concert.

For thirty minutes, this quasi-mosh pit continued. Waka and his squad stood alone on stage performing such hits like Brick Squad Monopoly, Young Money Brick Squad, and Rooster in my Rari. His squad consisted of a an overweight man quivering, another overweight man who just sat there laughing at nothing, and my personal favorite, a guy who lifted up a stack of legal U.S. tender, dropped it on himself, picked it up off of the floor, and repeated this process multiple times. At this point my friends and I had all been separated, and I had the most wonderful headacheconcussion imaginable. But this thirty minutes was just the calm before the storm.

The room went black. The music went silent. There was a genuine moment of silence between the audience and the performer for roughly five seconds. Then, the all too familiar tribal war cry of “BRICKSQUAD” was shouted. The lights came on, and Waka jumped off the stage and onto the floor. He walked around the venue while his body guard who, from the looks of it, probably has killed other humans at some point in his professional career, protected him from the drunken debauchery that surrounded him. He walked around without a microphone on the floor for 20 minutes. While he was walking around, people were throwing themselves towards him, handing him their adult beverages and legally questionable agricultural products, which he received gladly. As for the music? Some adequate DJ just played songs like Kendrick Lamar’s M.A.A.D. City alongside generic club/party music. I kid you not, I saw a kid scrape the side of his face, and then touch his face to see if he was bleeding. After he had looked at his hand and confirmed that he was, in fact, bleeding, he wiped it on his shirt, shouted, and then dove headfirst back into the crowd, who seemed to accept him warmly.

He spent the last 10 minutes on stage, rapping as he watched the actual mosh pit he had just created. He invited everybody to come up on stage and join him during this part of the concert, which they did. It’s safe to say that at least 25% of the concert-goers were on stage during this point of the show. After finishing his final song, he shouted the ever-popular “BRICKSQUAD,” literally dropped the microphone, and sprinted off-stage. As quickly and abruptly as it had begun, it was over. And in between? Beautiful chaos.

Overall, the concert was wonderful. The concert was an irony-free zone, yet seemed to embody all that was ironic at the same time. This paradoxical relationship, as puzzling as it was, was wonderful; we all knew why we were there. Nobody in the audience, I posit, was an avid Waka Flocka Flame fan, or could cite his entire discography at a moment’s notice. We all knew we were there to be part of the mosh-pit, to be rambunctious, aggressive, and youthful vigorous. Luckily for us, Waka knew that as well, and was kind enough to host us, and even join in on our festivities. It was like my usual drunken night at Waffle House. For an evening, nobody cared who you were, what you’ve done in your life, or how unbelievably shit-faced you were. So long as you were enjoying yourself, you were welcomed with open, tattooed arms.

-Zachary Lee

This article was originally published online at the Swamp Records blog. 

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  1. […] saved the best for last, dear reader. We here at The Florida Basement have a history of enjoying the musical stylings of Bricksquad Godfather, Waka Flocka Flame. This was the most […]

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