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Review: Phoebe Ryan, Saba saved homecoming

Despite missing headliner and cold weather, hundreds showed for the free homecoming concert.
Crowds gather in front of Coffman Memorial Union for the Homecoming Concert on Friday, Oct. 4. 
Image by Jasmin Kemp

Crowds gather in front of Coffman Memorial Union for the Homecoming Concert on Friday, Oct. 4. 

The homecoming concert could be heard far and wide across the University of Minnesota campus as Phoebe Ryan and Saba turned out a huge crowd last Friday.

Despite the inclement conditions and last-minute cancellation by headliner Megan Thee Stallion, by 8 p.m. the Coffman Union Front Plaza was nearly full with students. 

The UMN Electronic Dance Music (EDM) Club opened, preparing the crowd for Phoebe Ryan, a Los Angeles-based pop singer and songwriter. Her extensive resume of work includes songwriting for Britney Spears, Melanie Martinez, Bea Miller and The Chainsmokers. 

Braving the cold and rainy Minnesota weather in a skirt, she joked with the audience as she took the stage. “Tonight was a good night to wear a miniskirt, right?” 

Ryan opened with her familiar 2015 pop ballad, “Mine.” 

The crowd responded eagerly to her chart-crushing single featuring The Chainsmokers, “All We Know,” singing along and pulling out phones to capture the moment. She even altered the second chorus to include an ode to Minnesota. 

With Megan Thee Stallion absent from the lineup, Phoebe Ryan delivered the female energy that the night needed.

Before ending her set early, Ryan left the crowd with “Dark Side,” her catchy 2017 electro-pop single. The crowd responded well to her set, at one point crowd-surfing a student near the front of the stage. 

The size of the crowd fluctuated before Saba took the stage, but those who stayed for the full performance made the right choice. Saba was the clear winner of the night, with energy and stage presence that could not be matched.  

Ahead of Chicago rapper Saba’s appearance onstage, his DJ, SqueakPIVOT, took to the stage for a few minutes to get the crowd ready. He established a rapport quickly, joking with the crowd and appropriately opened with Lil Yachty’s “Minnesota.” After a few tracks and a shout out to the Gophers football team, Saba joined him on stage. The synergy between the two was electric from beginning to end and it translated to success for their performance.

During his track “Broken Girls,” the rapper urged the ladies in the crowd to sing along every time he said “girls.” They happily obliged. 

Later during his set, the crowd was immersed in magenta lights and fog as he rapped to “How You Live,” his 2017 track with MfnMelo. 

In a rare downtempo moment in Saba’s performance, he spoke from the heart when he told the audience to be unafraid to let the world hear their voices. 

Within seconds, he was back to dropping bars. 

In the midst of performing “Stay Right Here,” Saba jumped around the stage as the audience mimicked him. 

Before the show, he even found time to be photographed with Goldy’s statue — a surefire way to show Gopher spirit.

While it was clear that both performers were excited to be part of the homecoming festivities, Saba brought the energy that the crowd needed to stay out for hours in the chilly weather. The turnout was even better than Spring Jam. 

Whether it was the lineup or the fact that the show was free, Phoebe Ryan and Saba put on a show that made homecoming worthwhile.

Grade:  A

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