Ole Miss students are preparing to live young, wild and free tonight when rapper and entrepreneur Wiz Khalifa lights up the Pavilion at 9 p.m.
This show is the culmination of Welcome Week, which the Student Activities Association has been planning since last semester, according to Executive Director Brady Ruffin. With assistance from their advisers, Director of the Student Union Bradley Baker and Coordinator of Student Activities Patrick Ramsey, the committee pulled together to bring the Billboard-award-winning rapper to campus.
“We are incredibly lucky to have such amazing advisers that really care about SAA and the events that we put on,” Ruffin said. “They take care of the things that may be a little too complicated for us.”
Although Wiz Khalifa’s performance has received pushback from some alumni, a lot of students are excited for the concert after the SAA spring concert’s cancellation last semester. This concert comes on the heels of the rained-out spring concert where Atlanta-based rapper Gucci Mane was set to appear in the Grove.
Ruffin said he personally understands the disappointment within concerning the spring Gucci Mane concert but feels students are just as excited for Khalifa.
Senior IMC major and hip-hop blogger Aniseya Freeman plans to attend the concert Friday, even though she commutes to campus from Memphis.
“I had my going-out crew [for the Gucci concert] ready for that night,” she said.
She said bringing Wiz to campus makes up for her dashed plans.
“I haven’t heard that much about him recently, but I’m excited to see him live,” Freeman said.
Khalifa is a native of Pittsburgh and was awarded “Best New Artist” at the BET awards in 2011 for his first studio album, “Rolling Papers.”
Ruffin said Khalifa was the preferred artist by an overwhelming majority of the students planning the event and he is mostly excited about hosting the concert in the Pavilion.
“We are lucky enough to be partnering with athletics, and I think the change of venue will be something new and exciting,” Ruffin said.
Brendan Dwyer, arena manager for the Pavilion, said he has been working with Baker to bring a show into the Pavilion since last fall when he started the position.
“I had worked at other schools that had done concerts in their arenas, and thought it would be a good opportunity,” Dwyer said. “Joe Swingle and our architects did a great job making sure that the Pavilion had an easy-entrance loading dock and plenty of power connections to make a concert or big event easier.”
He said he is always looking for ways to expand the Pavilion’s programming while abiding by the busy basketball season schedule.
“We have had a lot of groups working on this, from our athletics ticket office, the University Police Department, Student Activities, Centerplate,” Dwyer said. “Everyone being open to trying something new has really helped. Everyone wants this to be a success.”
According to Dwyer and Ruffin, the concert will be treated like an athletic event, so the clear-bag policy introduced for this year’s football season will be in effect for the concert Friday night. Parking on campus will be open for the event, since it is after 5 p.m.
“We are only allowing entry through the north entrance between Raising Cane’s and Steak ‘n Shake, so park accordingly,” Dwyer said.
The concert is only open to Ole Miss students, and tickets have already been uploaded to student IDs. Doors open at 8 p.m. Dwyer said he expects the 9,500-seat arena to be close to full capacity for the show.