Review / photos: Wild Splash brings Wiz Khalfia, B.o.B., Rich Homie Quan, more to Coachman Park in Clearwater
It was seven hours after the gates to Clearwater’s Coachman Park opened that Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa crooned his hit Young, Wild & Free for nearly 15,000 screaming coeds and fans, but the entire day embodied the sentiment.
Wild 94.1’s annual Spring Break concert Wild Splash sold out four days before the show, bringing young people from schools around the state and some who were returning home from schools around the nation. They wore bikini tops and shorts in defiance to the unseasonably chilly 60-degree weather and danced along with each as if it would be their last opportunity.
Feeding off that enthusiasm each of the seven hip-hop acts tried to deliver a high-octane performance to stoke the crowd’s inner fires and keep them from shivering.
Khalifa closed the show after sunset with a medley of hits new and old, shedding his protective Taylor Gang hoodie and baring his chest in the process. He was the only performer to bring a live band, Kush and Orange Juice, and the instruments instantly changed the concert atmosphere from club celebration to showtime. His strongest performances were of the big hits (Black and Yellow, I’ll Roll Up) but he finished his set with his newest song, We Them Boys, and instantly the audience became a teeming sea of excitement.
It wasn't all chill times, though. Khalifa used the mellow moments after Young, Wild & Free to extol the virtues of kindness and respect – encouraging his fans to be the benevolent type. “I've been around the world in the past week and I've found that it’s young people and positive people that make this world go round,” he said. “Be nice to people and help people if you can. Help people you don’t even know. You guys have the energy to change the world.”
Fellow Taylor Gang member Ty Dolla $ign opened the show and finished his set with his hit Paranoid, which features B.o.B., solo. Far East Movement turned their stage time into a complete aural experience with group members Prohgress and J-Splif displaying their talents via keyboard and four iPads, respectively. The cutting and mixing of mega-hits from other stars raised the energy, priming the audience for the drop when Far East’s smash, The Illest, finally landed to shut it down.
Both Kid ink and Sage the Gemini used their sets to familiarize Wild Splashers with their catalogs, but Rich Homie Quan needed no such introduction. From the moment the Atlanta rapper stepped on the stage to the moment he left, true fans numbering in the thousands pushed toward the stage singing each word of each song. Though they waited patiently for Quan to let loose with FBD and Some Type of Way, the performances that led up to them felt as personal as any Unplugged concert. Most every track began with the rapper performing a capella, duplicating the crispness of his album quality sound and the intensity that can’t be translated over thumping bass.
And if Quan’s concert was intimate, B.o.B. took it to the next level, performing 90 percent of his set standing on the barricades that separated the stage from the crowd. It’s been a banner year for the Atlanta rapper, with features on songs with just about all of the other Wild Splash artists, not to mention the big hits of his own (Headband), there seemed to be no end to the songs in his set. He graciously brought Ty Dolla $ign out to re-perform Paranoid, threw a pair of autographed Adidas into the crowd (he has a sponsorship with the company), and used fans’ phones to take selfies. By the time B.o.B. got to last year’s monster, We Still In This B---, he’d touched the hands of just about each person on the front row. He crowdsurfed and smoked what appeared to be blunt, capping it all off with a smile and a thank you. Fun seemed to be the objective Saturday afternoon, and B.o.B. accomplished the mission like no other.
-- Robbyn Mitchell, tbt*