Waka Flocka Flame lights up B-Town



Waka Flocka Flame on fire

Energetic hip/hop star Waka Flocka Flame passed through Burlington on Jan. 25, bringing his effective hype crew with him and an arsenal of fun beats to rap and scream over, offering a show that was one hell of a good time.

Waka Flocka Flame has earned success and mainstream attention after the release of two studio albums. He has collaborated with a plethora of popular hip/hop artists including Drake, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Trey Songz, and Slim Thug.

The music show was sponsored by Signal Kitchen and presented at the new venue ArtsRiot, which is located on Pine Street. ArtsRiot is only five months old, but the venue is quickly gaining local attention and praise.

The show was scheduled to begin at 8:30, and when I walked in the doors there was no one on stage except a lone disc jockey. As 9:30 approached the crowd had grown three times its size, and many bodies began dancing around to the DJ, who acted as the first opener.

The DJ was unnamed on the ArtsRiot website, but the local from Saint Johnsbury made his name known, surpassing my own expectations, with his ability to mix some of the best modern hip/hop to quicker beats without anything sounding awkward. I will definitely be looking out for Ma1Ach1 in the future.

The second act seemed out of place and confusing at first. Argonaut and Wasp are a duo based out of Burlington. The majority of their music was great, just a bit out of place with its jam-bandy sound.

Soon, A&W introduced special guest Topaz Jones, who traveled from New York that day. Jones cleared up confusion with his hip/hop verses that combined intellectualism with club culture. The concert was back on track.

It wasn’t until about 11:30 that the main event took stage, but Waka was worth the wait. Waka’s entourage took stage first, calling for the crowd to “wake the fuck up!” The audience complied and began raising their hands and bumping their fists. Once the crowd was prepped by the hype crew, a quick body dressed in a white tee shirt ran and took stage. Without hesitation Waka began shaking his famous dreadlocks and started screaming “Waka Flocka Flame! BrickSquad!”

The show was one of the most energetic hip/hop events I have ever been to, and the ArtsRiot venue offered a level of intimacy that a large venue (which Waka does inhabit often) could not offer. The venue is split up into two main parts. The first room offers an open and breathable area where coats can be hung and refreshments can be purchased.

The second area is home to a soundboard and stage is where a couple of hundred bodies eagerly mass to dance and throw their hands up. The music area is dark and paved with smooth concrete. The venue is hipster-classy, a clean-looking place that offers a variety of art and entertainment events.

The rapper called for mosh pits and handshakes during his concert. While up close in the pit (a friendly pit for the most part), I was doused with water that was raining from the stage.

At one point, two attendees got into a scuffle and Waka stopped rapping to bring the young men on stage. He forced the two to shut up and shake hands, and to get over the argument before punches were thrown. Waka not only rapped about fast cars, drugs, mountains of money, a violent childhood and his squad; he also attempted to keep the peace.

I hadn’t been exposed to Waka much before this concert, but I left a fan. I prepared myself by listening to his latest album, “Triple F Life: Friends, Fans, and Family,” a few times in the week leading up to the concert. The show was exactly what I expected: fun and energetic, and a great place to shake your booty and have a couple of tasty beers.

ArtsRiot serves food and drink during most of its shows, and has a restaurant on the premises. ArtsRiot.com describes their kitchen as being “an incubator for the best new chefs in Vermont.” Prior to the show those who were devout and lucky enough got to eat a dinner with Waka Flocka that was prepared by the kitchen staff.

My hope is that more famous artists decide to stop at ArtsRiot for an enjoyable dinner and intimate, energetic show.