T-Pain gives inspiring performance chock-full of hits at The Regency Ballroom

A man performs on stage at the word "T-Pain" is projected behind him.
Matthew Gibson/Staff

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Dynamic performance, high production value, more features than you could imagine — these are the ingredients to the stellar experience to be had at a T-Pain concert. On April 3, the music industry legend performed at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco to his eleventh sold-out crowd on the “1UP Tour.”

Going into a T-Pain concert, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. Doesn’t he have more features than original songs? Is the signature auto-tune just a part of his show by now? Frankly, T-Pain’s performance showed how successful the artist’s career has been simply by the sheer volume of top 40 hits in the set that listeners bopped to all night.

The “1UP Tour” highlights the visual aspects of T-Pain’s show just as much as it highlights his music. Between flashy backgrounds to match the songs, eye-catching outfits (long white fur coat included) and crisp, youthful dancing, T-Pain brings the full experience to his audience. You really haven’t lived until you’ve watched T-Pain hit “the woah” live on stage.

The range of songs that he performed highlighted just how strong of a stage presence T-Pain really carries. Although his musical peak hit in the late 2000s, his songs are still bumped at parties by people of all ages, exemplifying the lasting nature of his mainstream hits.

But it’s hard to pinpoint which songs were the biggest hits of the night considering how many of his songs were widely popular when they were originally released, but between “Booty Wurk (One Cheek At a Time),” “Cyclone” and “I’m Sprung,” it was difficult to remind oneself that the show was taking place in 2019, and that the audience wasn’t transported to a more nostalgic era of Apple Bottom jeans and boots with the fur.

Throughout the show, T-Pain found space to demonstrate his down-to-earth personality in spite of all the glitz and glam of wind machines and flashing lights. Between two of his songs, he danced along to the Pink Panther theme song in a bath of fuschia light, proving to the audience that entering his thirties got nothin’ on his talent as a dancer.

He took a moment to talk about how happy he was to be performing in San Francisco, describing how he was “feelin’ hyphy.” Before going into the next song, he jokingly called out to audience members, “I only call you bitches cause I don’t know your names individually” in his best sing-songy voice. It can be hard to make that grand of a stage look so comfortable, especially when you have to fill it all by yourself, but T-Pain didn’t break a sweat when breaking out his magnetic character.

T-Pain’s concert transformed into a spectacle that was absolutely absurd in the end, but sometimes absurdity is the best way to close a show. His true vocal talent came out in his performances of popular tracks such as “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw, “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith and “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. This combination of covers showed unparalleled versatility and T-Pain’s admiration for so many artists who make music different than his own.

Considering he performed songs in the rap, country, rock, hip-hop and pop genres, it truly is difficult to see how this concert could have not appealed to basically anyone who listens to music. Even when he changed the lyrics of Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” to give it his own spin — which perhaps was not the most lyrically tasteful — he still did it with the confidence and fun-loving nature that people take away from most of T-Pain’s music.

The show ended with a house-down performance of “Low,” which technically is a Flo Rida song that T-Pain is featured on, but the audience was quite forgiving nonetheless. The amount of cheering this performance elicited would’ve made anyone think T-Pain had just received a lifetime achievement award with the release of that one song.

The melting vocal runs that accompanied “5 O’Clock” and the fast-spitting bars that came with “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” all came together to show that T-Pain has an incredible vocal talent even behind all of that auto-tune he once made so famous.

To wrap up the whole package, T-Pain left his audience with a message of positivity. He reassured audiences that everything was “going up from here” and encouraged them to work on getting better at whatever they’re passionate about. If this concert showed audiences anything, it’s that T-Pain is undoubtedly passionate about using music to bring people together.

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.