The anticipation was building as two school buses worth of people waited anxiously in the PLEX lounge, rain drizzling depressingly outside. But the Midwestern weather didn't get us down, at least not this time – we were almost on our way to see Flo Milli.
A&O members loaded us, slowly but surely, onto buses tailor-made for an elementary school field trip. Everyone was giddy with excitement for the entirety of the bus ride that, despite feeling like an eternity, was only about 40 minutes long. When we arrived, we were greeted by a long line of other students.
Unfortunately, we were on the second bus to depart, so the festivities had already started when we finally made it inside. The crowd was already getting warmed up to fantastically mixed tracks from Nicki, Cardi B and many more, courtesy of DJ Vitamin K. A highlight from her set included a wildly successful and unexpected transition from Kanye West’s “Mercy” into “California Gurls” by Katy Perry. At 7:30 p.m. on the dot, opener Dreamer Isioma’s team began to set up. Five minutes later, they came out to a roaring crowd.
Dreamer’s inspiration from genres of the past – 50s rock, 70s funk and more – came out right away. They began with a sultrier number, reminiscent of clubs in the dark. The lights worked in perfect harmony with the music – bright neons for the pop tracks, pastel pinks for love songs and an eerie green for the darker tracks.
Dreamer wore a fuzzy sweater that, combined with the backlighting and heavy smoke around the room, gave them a pastel-colored aura. Despite their angelic appearance, they felt down to earth. Dreamer interacted with the crowd, giving out roses throughout their performance. They also interacted frequently with their bandmates, building the sense that they are genuine friends. Dreamer also utilized the entire stage: they ran across it, jumped around, leaned on the speaker and laughed with the audience between tracks. The fun they had on stage was reflected by the audience. A group of students behind the pit kept repeating “You ate!” And they were right – Dreamer did, indeed, eat.
Although Weinberg first-year Cindy Wu had never heard any Dreamer Isioma songs before the concert, she said she “loved their energy” and “will definitely add some songs to [her] playlists now.”
After Dreamer’s set ended, the crowd got quiet. We all knew what was coming: the main event. With each lull in conversation, everyone looked to the stage with one thought in mind – “is Flo Milli really here?” When her performance background, complete with Burn Book-style photos of her and Regina George appeared, the audience went quiet, eagerly awaiting her entrance.
The crowd lost it. The sea of students lost its collective mind at the sight of the accomplished rapstress.
“The energy was really fun,” said Medill second-year Allison Rauch. “She was so funny and just really in it.”
The packed crowd only grew tighter as everyone tried to get closer to the performer, but Rauch said she had “seen crazier.”
Wu said she loved how interactive Flo Milli was with the crowd, and I agree. She laughed with us, reacted to the front row and took selfies using audience members’ phones.
When she sang her newest single “PBC” (Pretty Black Cute), she brought a group of woman-presenting, (mostly) Black students on the stage with her and hyped them up. Weinberg first-year Danielle Adekogbe was among the group.
“It was like a rush of adrenaline,” she said. “My heart was pounding so hard, too.”
In addition to “PBC,” Flo Milli rapped all of her most popular tracks, playing off of the audience’s energy while she performed. She encouraged a call and response for her certified gold banger “In the Party:”
“When I say 'Flo Milli shit,' you say 'HOE!'”
She strutted back and forth across the empty stage, even jumping into the pit at one point, much to the dismay of the security guards, who scrambled to protect her. She kept her energy up all the way through her performance.
After her final track, Flo Milli continued her trend of picking up phones from the audience. She picked up another phone expecting a camera, but was met with an in-progress FaceTime call. She gave a warm hello, chit-chatted with the caller and even gave the phone owner a group photo afterward. It was a very fitting ending to a night full of audience interactions.
After she finally left the stage, I was left thinking only one thing: Flo Milli shit, hoe.
Thumbnail graphic by Bailey Richards using photos by Hope Cartwright.