Arts & Life

Swae Lee gives ‘Unforgettable’ performance at ASI’s Big Event concert

As the clock hit six on Saturday night, students filled the Walter Pyramid as it was booming with music so loudly you could feel the bass in your bones.

Excitement and anticipation were palpable as students danced, waved light sticks and watched their wristbands change color to the beat of the opening act, DJ Steria.

Students patiently waited for headliner Swae Lee, the Grammy-nominated rapper, singer and songwriter. He is best known for his work as Rae Sremmurd, a duo act he has with his brother Slim Jxmmi, and his work co-writing Beyoncé’s single, “Formation.”

His songs “Unforgettable” and “Sunflower” made him a popular choice for ASI’s Big Event and he was eventually selected among many artists for students to enjoy.

4/21/24 – Long Beach, Calif: Swae Lee headlined ASI's Big Event with around 100 students showing up with light sticks and phones in their hands at the Walter Pyramid. During the pre-show, Elbee danced with students before the headliner, getting students excited and eagerly anticipating the artists' performances.
4/21/24 – Long Beach, Calif: Swae Lee headlined ASI’s Big Event with around 100 students showing up with light sticks and phones in their hands at the Walter Pyramid. During the pre-show, Elbee danced with students before the headliner, getting students excited and eagerly anticipating the artists’ performances. Photo credit: Samuel Chacko

“We work in a team to figure out research and see who would be a great option to bring to campus that would help create this new electric feeling,” Marvin Flores, program manager, said.

Flores said he wanted to ensure the electric feeling would excite people into finals.

Planning for ASI’s Big Event starts as soon as the previous year’s concert wraps up, with the program committee considering the music taste of students, an artist’s accomplishments and how much an artist would cost.

Swae Lee proved to be popular with students, who began lining up to get good seats as early as 3:30 p.m.

“I grew up on his music. So, I mean, yeah, I’m excited to see him,” Annelise Licata, a third-year student and one of the first attendees in line, said. “I know a lot of his songs, so it’s going to be fun to see him perform.”

Before Swae Lee, students were hyped up by reggaeton artist La Gabi. La Gabi sang and showed off dance moves with her backup dancers.

4/21/24 – Long Beach, Calif: ASI held ASI Big Events for another year with opening musician La Gabi, who matched the crowd's energy by jumping around, singing and smiling.
4/21/24 – Long Beach, Calif: ASI held ASI Big Event for another year with opening musician La Gabi, who matched the crowd’s energy by jumping around, singing and smiling. Photo credit: Samuel Chacko

She even had enough time to perform the crowd-favorite song “Wao” for a second time.

“I’m nervous, but, like, it’s a good nervous. You know what I mean,” La Gabi said before taking the stage. “I’m excited to share my music to people…make you vibe with me.”

Finally, at 8 p.m., students cheered as Swae Lee took the stage, beginning his hour-long performance with the hit song “No Type.”

The energy from Swae Lee and the crowd shook the Walter Pyramid from the top of the bleachers to the bottom of the floor.

“I usually try to keep all my songs like positive type ’cause I don’t really try to make my music depressing,” Swae Lee said after the show. “We going through enough stuff in real life.”

4/21/24 – Long Beach, Calif: Swae Lee flexes his arms to the audience after taking his jacket off, starting with "No Flex" to get the crowd on their feet. Lee was climbing on the set and smiling throughout his Long Beach State performance at the Walter Pyramid.
4/21/24 – Long Beach, Calif: Swae Lee flexes his arms to the audience after taking his jacket off, starting with “No Flex” to get the crowd on their feet. Lee was climbing on the set and smiling throughout his Long Beach State performance at the Walter Pyramid. Photo credit: Samuel Chacko

“When you listen to my music, I want to make you feel like you the shit. I want to make you feel like you’re that guy or you’re that girl…Every song is like a different message.”

Swae Lee also performed Rae Sremmurd’s songs “No Flex,” “Come Get Her” and “This Could Be Us” from the “SremmLife” album.

The most anticipated song of the night was “Black Beatles,” with students asking for Swae Lee to sing it in between his other songs.

When the beginning beats of “Black Beatles” played, everyone froze as an homage to the 2016 mannequin challenge, when people would freeze in place while the song played in the background.

Swae Lee joined in on the fun of having everyone freeze in place for the chorus of “Black Beatles.” He also sang “Calling” and “Sunflower” from the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” franchise albums, his popular collaborations and his most recent releases like “Airplane Tickets.”

As the ASI Big Event ends, preparation for the next one begins. Students looking to contribute to the selection of next year’s artists can attend the Beach Pride Events meetings on Mondays at 4 p.m.

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