Last Saturday night, the Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) welcomed both singer Gavin Turek and rapper Smino to the Pause Mane Stage for the fall concert.

Christopher Smith Jr., better known as Smino to his friends and listeners, is a St. Louis-based rapper and songwriter.

Hailing from a family of musicians, Smino has released one full album entitled “blkswn” as well as two extended plays, “S!Ck S!Ck S!Ck” and “blkjuptr.” With a number of hit singles as a solo artist, including “Anita” and “Wild Irish Roses,” Smino has also been featured alongside the likes of Noname and Saba, as well as accompanying SZA and T-Pain on tour.

Gavin Turek is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, dancer and actress from Los Angeles, Calif. Turek released her album entitled “You’re Invited” in 2015, alongside fellow singer-songwriter TOKiMONSTA. As well as the full album, Turek has many singles, including “The Distance,” “Good Look for You” and most recently, “WHITNEY.”

Gavin Turek opened the event with an infectious blend of synth funk and electronic dance music. Her lively opening was punctuated by a fantastic live drummer, whose funky beats had the entire crowd bobbing their heads.

While Gavin’s vocals and impromptu dance moves weren’t perfect and felt somewhat awkward at times, her infectious energy and soulful vocals pulled the crowd together into a mass of dancing and singing.

Turek introduced her single “Good Look for You” by prompting the crowd to consider her as a date partner, asking, “Am I a good look for you?” before bursting into the energetic dance tune.

“The highlights of Smino’s performance were his rap flows, which were mainly well performed and catchy.” – Jacob Maranda ’22

Turek’s hit, “Don’t Fight It” brought a classic Motown funk feel to her performance, and she told the crowd not to fight the urge to dance.

Turek’s performance was a big hit among the concert-goers, as she kept the crowd dancing and having a great time throughout her entire set. She even tweeted about it afterward saying, “thank youuuu St. Olaf for havin me … yall cute!”

Smino had a tough time following up the infectious synth funk and dance waves of Turek. Without a live drummer or any other live instrumentation besides a piano during his introduction, Smino’s performance felt somewhat empty and stale compared to Turek’s.

The highlights of Smino’s performance were his rap flows, which were mainly well performed and catchy. He also drew in the crowd with his on-stage gimmicks, including comedy and smoking a marijuana blunt.

It was quite the moment watching Smino grab a lit blunt from his DJ and smoking it on stage. He even offered a hit to the performance security, who politely declined.

In between songs, Smino also proved to be quite the funny guy, connecting with the audience through comedic shorts revolving around where people grew up and drug use. 

While pulling out a joint on-stage was certainly unexpected, and Smino’s comedy brought a unique flair to the performance, it failed to make up for the overall lack of energy in the room during his songs. 

While the bass in the instrumentals was booming and Smino’s flows were sometimes infectious, the overall feeling of the crowd was nothing compared to the energetic, soulful funk of Gavin Turek, who for me was the real star of the evening.