Fabolous, above, performed Saturday night in the Ravine as part of Crocs Next Step Campus Tour. Fabolous opened for headliner OneRepublic. (Rachel Stone)

By Breck Norment

Eastern students and other fans packed the Ravine on the chilly night of April 12 for the Crocs Next Step Campus Tour featuring Fabolous and OneRepublic. The performances were hot enough to make fans forget about the cold weather.Local band Solace opened the concert and had hometown

support from the audience. Several girls wearing Solace t-shirts were dancing and singing along in the front row.

A band called Session from New York City followed Solace before Fabolous took the stage. Session members said they were excited to play at Eastern, but also to play on the Crocs tour.

“We love Richmond, and Richmond loves us,” said Phil Gutowski, the guitar and sax player.

Fabolous took the stage after a few seconds of instrumental music mixed with drum beats. The crowd was immediately hooked when he came out dressed in a white hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and a New York Yankees hat. “Eastern Kentucky – What is good?” Fabolous asked. The crowd responded with a deafening roar.

Security guards in front of the audience had to tell people to back up several times during the show. Hundreds of camera flashes went off as Fabolous came to the front of the stage. He waved and pointed to audience members.

The hands of nearly every audience member remained in the air for most songs, including when Fabolous told people to put their cell phones in the air. Hundreds of cell phones lit the night sky across the sea of people packed in the Ravine.

Fabolous also played several popular songs and stopped them during the chorus to let the audience fill in the words. Most of the audience chimed in and Fabolous nodded when they were correct.

He “interacted with the crowd,” said Charity Danielle Reed, a 19-year-old sign language interpretation major from Barbourville, Ky. When asked if the weather damaged the experience, Reed responded, “We were too excited to be cold.”

Some Eastern students said they liked the location of the concert as well.

“It’s convenient,” said Asha Camille Miles, an 18-year-old fashion merchandising major from Lexington. “And it’s free on top of that.”

Others liked the concert but had different opinions on the location.

“It was fine, just a little too crowded,” said Jessica Figg, a 21-year-old public relations major from Richmond. Figg said she was pushed a couple of times during the show. Still, she added, “I thought he (Fabolous) was awesome.”

Some students noted that it was a big deal for Fabolous to come to Eastern.

“As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s the best thing that’s happened to Eastern since I’ve been here,” said Derrick Johnson, a 22-year-old criminal justice major from Orlando, Fla.