The season of outdoor concerts in upstate New York is coming to an end, so the University at Buffalo's Fall Fest was a welcome destination for collegiate concertgoers.
On Wednesday Sept. 15, UB welcomed a variety of acts to play at its annual Fall Fest concert in the Baird Point Amphitheater. This year, the headlining act was singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. B.o.B, Bruno Mars and Robert Francis also performed.
Mars and Francis each played short sets that prepared the audience for an energetic performance by B.o.B. The rapper burst onto the stage with thunderous beats, gyrating backup dancers and an array of musicians to round out the show.
B.o.B appealed to the indie-rock college crowd by playing "The Kids" featuring Janelle Monáe; the track sampled Vampire Weekend's "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance." He also performed a rousing rendition of "Kids" by MGMT, bringing new life to the song by making it less electronic and more soulful.
Finishing up his set, B.o.B played his radio smash "Airplanes" and then invited Bruno Mars back on stage to play their hit song "Nothin' On You." It was a welcome, upbeat way to end the set, especially for the members of the audience who weren't as familiar with the non-released songs off the rapper's album.
After a long break that forced the chilly audience to mill and jump around for warmth, Mraz's backup musicians stepped out blaring jazzy, energetic riffs. Soon after, Mraz himself finally took the stage clad in a leather jacket and his signature fedora. He satisfied fans by opening with a lively version of "Dynamo of Volition" from his latest studio album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.
The show remained upbeat during the next few songs; Mraz played fan favorites such as "Coyotes," "Lucky" and "Make It Mine." The show was disappointing for his more loyal fans, though, because it seemed as if he was playing it safe with his song choices.
Mraz played the same versions of "A Beautiful Mess" and "I'm Yours" that he had been playing since he went on tour in the summer of 2008, and those renditions had already been recorded for his newest live album, Jason Mraz's Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth. The performances were identical down to the once-witty banter before and during the songs.
Mraz's set took a turn for the worst, however, when he started playing some of his new material that the audience could only guess would be on his long-awaited upcoming album. The songs seemed to lack the same sophisticated lyrics and signature scat style that his fans have come to expect.
It was apparent that the audience was not responding well to the new material since many began leaving even as Mraz played them. Many of the new songs seemed like a desperate attempt to recreate the glory of "I'm Yours," which truthfully lost its touch about a year ago. He finally ended his encore performance with a clichéd rendition of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love."
As a more-than-loyal Jason Mraz fan, I would go to see him play at the drop of a hat no matter what he was playing but it was very disheartening to see him start a strong set and quickly lose all of the excitement that makes him the star that he is.