JPEGMAFIA, also known as Peggy, has millions of streams, performed at South by Southwest and has been featured on digital media outlets like VICE and Pigeons & Planes. Now he can add performing at Binghamton University for a raucous, sweaty crowd of college students to that list.
The rapper hailing from Baltimore, Maryland has made waves in the music community, including widespread acclaim from music publications such as Stereogum and Fader for his 2018 album “Veteran.” The 28-year-old artist served in Iraq for four years and carries an emotionally and politically fierce message in his music.
Peggy’s portion of the night was preceded by an opening from Priests, a post-punk band from Washington, D.C. Priests’ intense, howling vocals on tracks like “JJ” and groovy guitar riffs on songs like “Suck” galvanized the crowd and got everyone’s feet moving.
By the time JPEGMAFIA took the stage, there were no issues getting the crowd into it. Before he even performed a song, shouts of “Damn, Peggy!” were bellowing from the audience, citing a common sample JPEG uses in his songs.
Mosh pits, screaming attendees and a genuine chaotic feel embodied the center of JPEGMAFIA’s vibe that he brings to the stage.
“JPEG truly facilitated this environment where everyone was really ensconced with him,” said Mika Itkin-Weinstein, the Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP) chair and a senior double-majoring in English and history. “He’s so charismatic and everyone really feels like they’re in there with him.”
This energy was most apparent during JPEGMAFIA’s riveting performance of “Baby I’m Bleeding.” A song riddled with visceral instrumentals and hard-hitting vocals, Peggy entered the audience and presented the track with both his body and voice, thrashing his body around while shirtless.
JPEG interacted with the crowd to a degree that most artists would not be comfortable with. During a gripping performance of “1539 N. Calvert,” Peggy was one with the audience, performing among the concertgoers while writhing around on the floor and wrapping his arm around different attendees.
“It was an experience I haven’t really had before and it was extremely interesting to witness,” said John Gallagher, a junior majoring in business administration. “Feeling like the artist is not some unreachable foreign figure makes the music much more meaningful and relatable.”
The University Union Undergrounds provides as much of an intimate, personal setting as possible. A theater-style capacity of about 130 people, free admission and two angsty, intense performances made for a night full of excitement.
“The Undergrounds is a really hard place to work with, being that the stage is so low, but it does create somewhat of an intimacy,” said Itkin-Weinstein. “The ambiance and energy was still so amazing, though, and that’s all on [JPEGMAFIA].”
Peggy brought a unique and empowering vitality to the stage that many students were able to take part in, thanks to the BUMP organization. BUMP’s message emphasizes that its goal is to bring what the people want to BU.
“I picked this artist because I knew people would vibe with it,” said Itkin-Weinstein. “I don’t pick for me, I pick for the community. I want to know who you want, so please share your thoughts.”