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DaBaby energizes the crowd at UMBC's RAC. Photo by Alex McKenzie.

DaBaby bops at UMBC

The night of the show

It’s 36°F and a line of people extends from the RAC down to Chick-fil-A on academic row. Concert guests began lining up as early as 6:30 p.m., Thursday evening. It is the first performance of Fall Fest, the first event of its kind held during the fall semester at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Ironically, it feels more like winter outside. Still, the crowd is buzzing excitedly as they anticipate the headlining act, Charlotte-native rapper DaBaby.

Inside, the energy of the crowd is palpable. Openers WillThaRapper and Toosi are first to take the stage. But after an hour gap between the opening acts and DaBaby, the audience is tense. 

He comes on stage nearly two and a half hours after students were first let into the concert venue. DaBaby, whose rap career has blown up over the past two years, wears red Adidas track pants, a white Gucci tee and his signature “Kirk” chain. Before he rushes the stage, a girl in the audience exclaims, “I want to touch his chain so bad. It’s so big!”

Once on stage, the rapper does not disappoint. He starts with his hit, “Suge,” before launching into a set filled with crowd pleasers for fans, new and old. “What I like about this school, is y’all stick together,” DaBaby notes between songs when he picks five girls to participate in an on-stage twerk contest. 

Around 11 p.m. he leaves the campus on a high note, and during his final song, the RAC explodes with black and gold confetti. Still, some fans were upset by the shortness of his set, the stampeding within the crowd and the time spent waiting for DaBaby to come on stage. 


How does SEB set up for Fall Fest?

The Student Events Board managed to secure DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion without any major hiccups, according to SEB president Mayra Perez Oliver. Her aim is for UMBC students to appreciate the hard work that SEB has contributed to student life: “Our hope is that the shows would go smoothly and everyone could walk out of them and say they had a great time!” 

The Student Events Board considered artist costs, expected ticket sales and ticket prices before coming to contractual agreements with the artists and their teams.“We wanted to make the show affordable and accessible to a large part of our UMBC community, so that is another factor that plays into the negotiations,” says Perez Oliver.

How long does it take to set up for an event this size? After all, there were 3,750 tickets made available for UMBC students, faculty, staff and alumni. Production — building the stage, rolling out the tarps, moving equipment, and setting up a green room in the RAC — took the SEB executive board and event staff two days.

Perez Oliver is grateful for the teamwork and hours of commitment she’s seen from SEB while preparing for DaBaby’s show. “It’s crazy to think about the amount of time and effort that goes into setting up a concert,” she says. “I can’t express how great of a group we have to be able to work hard and power through long days.” 

A time lapse of the set-up posted on the group’s Instagram page reveals the tedious process of turning the ground floor of the RAC into a concert venue fit to hold thousands of people. However, SEB will do it all again next week. The second act of Fall Fest, Megan Thee Stallion, is set to make her debut in the UC Ballroom on Thursday, November 21. All 700 of her tickets sold out in record time when they went on sale in October.

Perez Oliver is optimistic about how the new Fall Fest is affecting student life on campus.“I know I speak on behalf of all of SEB in that we know that a lot of the UMBC community will enjoy these shows. We have worked hard these past few months to bring excitement to students on our campus, and it is definitely paying off.”