Winter Jam brings successful hip-hop show to WKU

Soulja Boy jumped offstage to engage with the crowd during his set at the Winter Jam Concert at Diddle Arena on Friday, February 25, 2011. Ray J opened for Soulja Boy, while Yo Gotti closed out the night.

Joanna Williams

When Soulja Boy, Ray J and Yo Gotti finally took the stage Friday night, the crowd of about 3,000 in Diddle Arena erupted into cheers.

The Winter Jam Concert got off to a slow start since it featured seven opening acts, mostly regional artists, which took more than two hours to complete.

The first headliner, Ray J, did not take the stage until 9 p.m., leaving a few fans disgruntled by the wait, including Sona Potosyan from Middle Tennessee State University.

“It’s awful, especially because the entertainment beforehand isn’t that great,” she said.

Zach Boog, one of the onstage hosts of the concert, said a long list of opening acts were standard for a concert like this.

“That’s how concerts go,” he said. “No matter where you go, whether it’s to see Michael Jackson or whatever, there will always be a lot of opening acts.”

The concert was put on by independent agencies Startin5ive and Horseman Entertainment.

Nashville senior and Startin5ive member Patrick Morgan said they didn’t anticipate the opening acts lasting as long as they did, and for future shows they will be more conscious of the time.

But when the show’s headliners appeared, any agitation over the wait seemed to disappear as cheering fans made up for any empty seats.

Parker Ball from the University of Kentucky said seeing Yo Gotti was the reason for his three-hour drive to Bowling Green.

“It was amazing,” he said. “It’s always been my dream to see Yo Gotti. Overall, it was a great show.”

Morgan said one reason why the show was so successful was because of the crowd’s diversity.

“We didn’t have just black people,” he said. “If you looked into the crowd, we had white people, Asians, Indians, old and young,” he said.

Morgan said he hoped the success of Winter Jam could be used as a pathway for bringing more hip-hop shows to WKU.

“We showed Western, Bowling Green and even Ransdell that we can do a hip- hop show,” he said. “If you looked into the crowd, we had all different ethnicities and faces. This wasn’t a one-sided show.”

Kenneth Johnson, assistant director for Student Activities and Organizations, said he thinks those aspects are also true of the events the Campus Activities Board puts on.

“We’ve always done hip-hop shows and have always had a diverse selection,” he said.

He cited concerts by Day 26 and Keri Hilson in years past as examples.

Morgan said Winter Jam was a notable concert because he felt it was a different type of show WKU hasn’t seen in a while.

“We brought black entertainment back to Bowling Green, and we were able to cater to a lot of different tastes,” he said.