Flo Rida headlines Student Programming Board’s annual Wake the Giant concert

Pop artist Flo Rida, known best for his 2000s club hits, performs at M&T Bank Arena for Wake The Giant on Sunday, April 14.
Pop artist Flo Rida, known best for his 2000s club hits, performs at M&T Bank Arena for Wake The Giant on Sunday, April 14.
Aidan Sheedy

Nostalgia filled M&T Bank Arena on Sunday as students waited with their friends to hear rapper Flo Rida perform popular songs from the late 2000s at the Student Programming Board’s annual Wake the Giant concert.


SPB had been planning Wake the Giant since October. The organization sent out a survey to students asking them what genres they would want to see at the concert near the end of the month.

Nicole Healy, assistant director of student engagement, said that rap music ranked first in the survey, followed by pop and country. She said that more than 1,000 students responded within five days of the form being sent out.

Flo Rida’s music fit the genre that students wanted, but the rapper also met Quinnipiac’s administrative and logistical needs to make sure the event was safe, Healy said.

“We knew from our middle management company and other universities who had (Flo Rida) before that he’s very professional,” Healy said. “He’s used to the college environment because performing at Quinnipiac isn’t the same as performing at Madison Square Garden.”

Flo Rida was supposed to come in 2020 but that concert got canceled because of COVID-19. So he has always been on SPB’s list, said Zachary Iwatsuki, a senior health science studies major and SPB president.

Iwatsuki said that college students listened to Flo Rida when they were in middle school and high school and his music is still played today in clubs, bars, spin classes and cafés.

“He has a ton of music that people would know,” Iwatsuki said. “We were like, ‘Oh, (Flo Rida) would create a great show for students where people will know the music, have a good time and get their mind off of finals and all those projects.’”

SPB wanted Flo Rida to be the focal point of the event, so they chose DJ Fire aka Tafari Turner ­— a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University – to open the show while students were stil­ coming into the arena.

“(DJ Fire is) always coming up with new content,” Healy said. “He’s a little bit more of a low-key DJ, but he brings a lot of energy and a lot of knowledge. He keeps up with what college students want because that changes almost by the day.”


The Chronicle interviewed Flo Rida via email prior to the event. He wrote that he decided to pursue music because it was always in his family. His father is an accomplished musician and his sisters have a gospel singing group.

To prepare for the show at Quinnipiac, Flo Rida wrote that he was working out, getting lots of rest and was just ready to bring the party. He also wrote that preparing to perform at Quinnipiac is not too different than preparing for his upcoming tour.

“I’m constantly performing so there’s not much different,” Flo Rida wrote. “I like each show to be organic so each show takes on a life of its own.”

In the email, Flo Rida explained that his favorite song he’s written is “Low” and it’s also his favorite to perform.

“As soon as the intro starts you hear the crowd’s reaction,” Flo Rida wrote. “They’re like, ‘This is what I came for.’”

When asked what it’s like to perform in front of a crowd that grew up listening to his music, Flo Rida responded that “It’s surreal.”

“I remember walking miles to attend a Nelly concert growing up and the fact that so many people want to see me perform and tell me how much I inspire them is inspiring,” Flo Rida wrote.


At 9 p.m. Flo Rida took the stage in a black vest with a silver sparkly logo printed on the back with fellow artist Oya Baby and several background dancers who helped keep the crowd’s energy up for the entire night.

Anthony Pinto, a first-year psychology major, came to Wake the Giant because he said he just wanted to have a great time with his best friends and listen to live music.

“I thought it was awesome … it was really worth it for the money we paid, lived up to all my expectations,” Pinto said. “We all had a great time and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.”

Students hoped to hear several of Flo Rida’s popular songs such as “Whistle,” “Low” and “My House.” All three were on the set list as well as a few other classics such as “Wild Ones” and “Right Round.”

The rain didn’t scare students away as many were in line outside before the doors opened at 7 p.m.

Lucas Jenkins, a sophomore computer science major, said that his experience at Wake the Giant was great besides standing in the rain for a little bit while waiting to get into the arena.

“I thought it would be a fun event to come to,” Jenkins said. “I don’t get to come out to stuff often, so it’s just nice to have a change of pace and do something bigger throughout the year.”

Wake the Giant has been a staple event at Quinnipiac for generations and many students hear about it before they even come to campus.

Samantha Iaconis, a first-year marketing major, said she came to Wake the Giant because her cousin just graduated from Quinnipiac and she told her to attend every event and to be so excited for Wake the Giant.

“I think it was great,” Iaconis said. “This was my first concert ever so it was definitely a cool way to go into it.”

Iaconis said she liked that Flo Rida played “Whistle” but she said she was upset he didn’t play “I Cry” because she said she was waiting for that one.

Many students remember listening to Flo Rida’s songs throughout elementary and middle school with their friends.

“I know a lot of Flo Rida songs from middle school and I think it’s very nostalgic and fun,” said Christine Federico, a sophomore in the radiologic science program.

Flo Rida even brought groups of students on stage throughout the night to dance with him, sing into the microphone and some even got to take selfies with him. He also went onto the floor several times and let students surround him.

Before singing “My House,” Flo Rida took off his sneakers, signed them and gave them to two different students in the crowd.

“There is nothing like singing ‘My House’ in person and I was with a bunch of my friends,” said Omar Metawea, a first-year finance major.

Toward the end of the night, Flo Rida sang the last few songs in a custom Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey jersey with his name on the back.

The concert made students nostalgic as they listened to some childhood classics all while making new memories with their college friends.

Iwatsuki said that he hopes students had a good time at the event, especially seniors who are graduating soon.

“I want the seniors to enjoy their time, enjoy their moment, make memories with their friends,” Iwatsuki added.

It’s just about that time where classes finish up and there’s projects and exams to study for, Iwatsuki said.

“It’s one of the last times that people can come together with their friends and not really have to think about school or any stress in their lives and come and enjoy a concert,” Iwatsuki said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Quinnipiac Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *