The line started forming at noon and by 2 p.m., a constant stream of people who came to see rap star Common perform live caused the line to extend past Sierra Center, down Etiwanda to Nordhoff. From the outset, Big Show 6 was larger than expected.
Sponsored by the Associated Students, the annual campus concert, held Sept. 30 in Sierra Quad, proved to be far more successful than in previous years.
“There are really no words to express it,” said senior Jennifer Santos, who served as show manger and played a key role in bringing Common to CSUN.
Santos, 22, a journalism major and A.S. official, added that attendance for this year’s Big Show was “three times” greater than that for the 2005 concert.
Despite waiting three hours to enter and having to stand around for an additional two hours before the headliner hit the stage, the audience’s anticipation created energy inside the makeshift arena and filled the air with excitement.
“This is what college is supposed to be like,” said Nicole Alexander, 19, sophomore child development major. “It’s worth the wait.”
Over the course of the afternoon, a Woodstock-style environment evolved as students, many from other area colleges, carved out personal space to pass the time. Whether just sitting in a cluster with friends, playing Frisbee football or having an impromptu picnic, early arrivals found interesting ways to pass the time.
Near the front of the stage, die-hard fans found the perfect spot, pressed against the security rail and refused to move until the concert ended.
“We been here since this morning,” said Bethany Bankston, 19, sophomore CTVA major, who attended Big Show with Karina Tujillo, 19, and Keishonna West, 20.
All three students live in the dorms and were so determined to get good seats that they were among the first in line for the concert, waiting nearly seven hours for it to start.
As the light of day began to fade, the band for the main event took the stage, and immediately the crowd went wild. In the wings, Common took a moment to gather information about the school.
“I know that building is Sierra Hall, but what are the names of some (of) these other buildings?” asked the rapper prior to his performance.
For the next two hours, Common moved the crowed to a near frenzy with his flow and flare on stage. At one point the rapper launched into a freestyle rhyme, using the names of the buildings he gathered prior to the show, drawing the largest cheers when he worked the school mascot, the Matador, into his rap.
Performing recent hits and old-school favorites, Common gave a performance that could easily be logged into the annals of hip-hop history as a classic concert. Whether admonishing the crowd by saying, “You can’t wait on no rapper, no president, to change the world. It starts with the way you act toward people, with a respect for others,” or treating them to an exhibition of his unique talents (at one point he break-danced and later played the piano), Common was extraordinary.
The excitement of the crowd seemed to have an impact on Common, who did a curtain call and returned to do a few more numbers after his set officially ended.
“This is one of the freshest crowds we’ve ever had, they were sick,” he said shortly after Big Show.
Backstage, a few students holding classic albums surprised Common, who was more than willing to give each an autograph.
“Man, you guys really got this vinyl,” said Common, who seemed humbled by the reception. “I am just grateful that there are beautiful young people like this who love good music.”
Down-to-earth and approachable, Common posed for pictures with the coordinators of the Big Show, accepted a rose from one of this youngest fans, a three-year-old girl named London, and gave another child a signed T-shirt.
When asked to give one word to describe his experience at CSUN, Common said, “This school and the students here are incredible.”