Martha Perez-Mendez/Contributing Writer
As April 12 rolled around there was little anticipation around campus for the annual UpRoar event held by FIU’s Student Programming Council.
Previous years have seen the likes of Jessie J, MKTO, T-Pain, Big Sean, Gym Class Heros and more.
This year welcomed rising star Niykee Heaton and on again off again sensation Mike Posner to the stage.
While doing my research on UpRoar, I was ready for the kind of packed audience prior years have seen. However, as I stood at the front railing with ample room and the show about to start, I began to realize that this small crowd would not grow much larger.
Before attending the concert, I first took a listen to Heaton’s Spotify and YouTube channel. Though her roots in pop and alternative R&B remain, her music has changed from the robust, acoustic sound heard on her YouTube channel to a more whiney and altered voice on her tracks which lack the soul she once demonstrated.
Fast forward to UpRoar and my expectations for an underwhelming performance were met.
As she began to sing her first song, I started to hear people questioning the same thing I was: is she lip-syncing through this whole performance? It was hard to tell at first, but it became obvious that she was barely singing over her previously recorded vocals.
She continued to lip-sync until she referenced her humble beginnings by performing a cover. Her hustled rap matched with strings of R&B vocals that really elevated her performance.
Still, her low energy combined with sporadic and provocative dance moves resulted in an awkward opening act. The audience was visibly anxious for Posner’s set to begin as soon as she announced her last song.
As we waited for his performance, students nostalgia over “Cooler Than Me” was almost as talked about as their love for Posner’s more recent hit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.”
Creating these catchy pop-rap songs intended for the college crowd has left Posner struggling with most of his recognition surfacing from these one-hit albums. Having also connected him to this “popy” and predictable sound, I was excited but didn’t expect any surprises.
Most of the audience and I were thrown for a whirl when Posner joined The Legendary Mike Posner Band in performing his hits in various expressions. They dipped into different genres to change up songs the crowd was expecting to hear replicated from his albums.
From edgier guitar and drum sounds laid down by Jacob Scesney to slowed down intimate acoustic moments, Posner and the band brought us a new appreciation for his so called “one hit wonders”.
Posner also blessed the audience with rock/alternative rearrangements of covers, such as “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd, in his innovative efforts to pump up the crowd.
He also covered Justin Beiber’s “If I Was Your Boyfriend” with the original lyrics he wrote stylishly interrupted by soul wrenching saxophone and drum solos.
If this wasn’t enough to turn anyone permanently into a Mike Posner fan, the young multi-talented artist had one more surprise. After ending the set with “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and leaving the stage, the room was overpowered by the small audience’s screams for an encore.
The band shortly reappeared and Posner followed. This time he took a seat at the front of the stage and began to talk.
Not fully knowing what was going on, the audience was intrigued. He continued in reciting a poem of gratitude memorized from his recently published book of poetry.
This moment of reflection left him vulnerable and emotionally expressive. Never before has a performance made me feel so personally connected to the artist. Furthermore, his relatable battles connected the audience to each other.
Ending the show with this strong moment of community made everyone in attendance equally as grateful to have chosen to be there that night. No matter how anyone felt about Niykee Heaton’s performance, Mike Posner and his band made UpRoar a worthwhile event.