Vanderbilt Homecoming: Commodore Quake and football

Big Sean and A$AP Ferg Shake Commodore Quake

On Friday, October 21st, crowds of Commodores filed into Memorial Gymnasium to experience the annual homecoming Commodore Quake concert. This year’s artists were Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg and Detroit rapper Big Sean, who each brought a distinct set that rattled everyone in attendance. While the seats were not completely occupied, both artists excitedly treated their performances as if they were headlining Bonnaroo.

First up was A$AP Ferg. Performing in a Vanderbilt football jersey, he energized the crowd while churning out hits from Trap Lord, including “Let It Go” and “Work,” before moving onto popular bangers from his latest album Always Strive and Prosper. While Ferg’s music is often cited as being hollow, his shows make it clear why he’s popular.

Next up was Big Sean who came out sporting a Vanderbilt hat, who brought with him an intricate stage setup. While his DJ warmed up the crowd, Big Sean’s silhouette appeared through a blinding light mounted on a platform above the stage. It became clear why he was the headliner over Ferg as LED screens and dancing lights elevated the night’s production values.

The focus of his set was his latest LP Dark Sky Paradise, and fans brought the energy as they sung along to “I Don’t Fuck With You.” The highlight of the show was Big Sean’s performance of “Clique,” his collaboration with Kanye West from the record Cruel Summer. Big Sean’s set also featured a live drummer, who was unfortunately a little too quiet in the mix. It would have added a fresh and interesting layer to the music had it been more prominent.

A$AP Ferg and Big Sean are far from critical darlings, but perhaps it’s because their music is meant to be heard live. Thirty years from now, few people will remember Trap Lord or Dark Sky Paradise the same way people will remember a Kendrick Lamar or Kanye West record, yet the fun that they created in Memorial Gymnasium was contagious. It all added up to be satisfying addition in the Commodore Quake concert series.

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The Homecoming Game

It took a while for Vanderbilt to get settled in during their Homecoming matchup against their local opponent, Tennessee State University. Just two plays into the game, the Tigers used the deep ball and scored a 93 yard touchdown. The crowd was stunned.

But Vanderbilt would quickly respond led by Ralph Webb, who broke off a 46 yard run. That run actually became his second longest of the day, en route to a 125 yard day.

TSU would answer back to take another touchdown lead, easily maneuvering through Vanderbilt’s defense. It seemed like TSU would keep the game close, but the Commodores grabbed the halftime lead with key runs by Khari Blasingame and Darrius Sims. Blasingame would finish the day with three rushing touchdowns, taking the redzone load this week.

While fans came for the local rivalry game, the halftime show was a spectacle in itself: for some, it may have been the main event. After originally being told they wouldn’t perform, the Spirit of Gold took to the field amid cheers from the crowd. With such a tight halftime schedule, they played a briefer show, highlighted by renditions of a trio of Steve Perry/Journey songs.

After their quick show, TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands took the field with a much larger group of students and made it apparent why the anticipation was so high. They combined high powered music with well-time formations and synchronized dancing. Much of the audience stood throughout and cheered them on. Their support was noticeably louder than that of Vanderbilt’s marching band, even with a majority home crowd.

An exciting halftime show would just be one of the special activities during the game. Ten Vanderbilt students were honored on the field as the finalists for Outstanding Senior, an award Akaninyene Ruffin ultimately won. Additionally, Vanderbilt recognized several members of VUPD for their decades of service to the university.

Outstanding Senior Presentation as Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee State 35-17 on Homecoming at Vanderbilt Stadium October 22, 2016. (Ziyi Liu/ The Vanderbilt Hustler)

When the teams came back to the field for the second half, it would become the Vanderbilt show. A long Webb run set up a Blasingame touchdown, giving them an 11 point lead that would eventually grow to 18. Ryan White knocked the ball loose from a TSU running back during a fourth quarter drive in Vanderbilt territory, which would essentially halt any chance of a comeback. The Commodore defense shut out the Tigers in the second half, playing more like they had been expected to coming into the event.

The ground game racked up 358 yards, and Kyle Shurmur managed the game well under center with 143 yards and a touchdown. With a bye week upcoming, the Commodores will have some extra time to prepare for a tough matchup at Auburn.

October 22nd, 2016 – The Commodores celebrate after their 35-17 win against TSU Saturday night at Vanderbilt University.

The Commodores celebrate after their 35-17 win against TSU Saturday night at Vanderbilt University.

Story by Braden Barnett, Life reporter and Josh Hamburger, Editor-in-Chief
Photography by Claire Barnett, Blake Dover and Ziyi Liu, Multimedia Director
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