Smile Politely

Unapologetically herself, Doja Cat takes Foellinger up on a Monday

Los Angeles artist Doja Cat got weird with it in my old economics lecture hall on Monday night.

After blowing up on the internet with her meme-able single, “Mooo!” in 2018, Doja Cat brought her energy to Foellinger Hall, which was packed with more students than I’d ever seen present during a lecture there.

Even before she hit the stage, the crowd was bustling with excitement.

As odd as the scene in Foellinger was for me, the crowd — nearly entirely made up of students — seemed to love every moment of her performance. And I only spotted one audience member wearing cow ears, which Doja Cat wore in her viral, cow-inspired hit. 

Doja Cat strutted out to the stage, proclaiming, “Champaign! Let’s make some noise!”

A couple seconds later, she laughed and casually remarked, “I never thought I would be saying that sentence.”

From there, she broke off into a performance that lines up with what she has presented to the world since “Mooo!” racked up 56 million YouTube views. Off-the-cuff and honest, she breezed through tracks from her 2018 album, Amala.

Towards the end of her set, it was clear the crowd was waiting for one of her less-viral songs. When the distinct instrumental of her early 2019 single “Tia Tamera” — which features Rico Nasty, who has a steadily growing cult-following — the Foellinger crowd erupted with excitement.

The track likens Doja and Rico, who was not present at the performance, to twin child-stars Tia and Tamera Mowry, while also laying out obvious references like, “my twins big like Tia.”

When Doja arrived at Rico’s verse, she let the crowd take it, and they did, screaming the first few lines out with glee.

Despite Doja Cat’s obviously problematic history — old tweets in which she threw around a homophobic slur surfaced after her rise to popularity and she was hardly apologetic — she stayed relentlessly and openly in line with the care-free persona she arrived on the scene with. She seems to have survived the initial social media reaction, or “canceling.”  Maybe most of her listeners simply don’t care.

Either way, Star Course — the RSO that books major performances geared toward students — certainly got it right that she could draw in a lot of students for a show, even on a Monday night.

Before playing her most recent release, “Bottom B****”, she warned the crowd about her mic not being up to standard and the song being completely autotuned.

“I just dropped this video, and it’s all autotune,” she said. “So this is about to be great.”

Chicago duo Mother Nature opened Monday’s show with a rousing, dynamic set that had the building buzzing from the jump.

Photos by Gavin Good

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