On the morning of April 14, Programming Board staff alongside Office of Student Life workers trudged out tents, tables and games to the Academic Quad for Spring Fest 2018. Clear skies promised a successful day but after the April 13 cancellation of the headliner, GoldLink, due to a family emergency, many students were less than thrilled about the planned festivities.
“[The] Morning of [Springfest] starts with set up, mostly for pre-show. That consists of setting up tables, barricades, going and picking up supplies and food. In terms of the show itself, myself and Diego [Silva] meet with the artists and introduce them to the sound crew and staging to see if there are any extra needs or issues, and then soundcheck happens towards the end of pre-show,” Nikolai Birch (senior), manager of Programming Board, said.
Programming board planned the activities for 3 p.m. on the Academic Quad. In addition to a beer garden sponsored by the Senior Class Gift Committee, Programming Board provided free tacos from Señor Fish, Big Mama and Papa’s pizza and a King Kone ice cream truck. A ping-pong table and mini-basketball game invited students to a competition in the middle of the quad, while KOXY DJs played music from the steps in front of the AGC.
According to several students, the beer garden ran out of beer within an hour and a half and the free food was gone by 4 p.m. According to Birch, Programming Board anticipated the right amount of students but underestimated how hungry they would be.
“I think we had figured the amount of people that would be there, but I don’t think we accounted for how many times people would get back in line for food, so the food went pretty quickly,” Birch said.
In comparison to previous years, which brought in bouncy houses, photo booths, and greater campus club participation, upperclassmen such as Caroline Silverstein (junior) were disappointed in the lack of variety in activities.
“The ping pong table was a pretty fun surprise, but the beer garden ran out of beer pretty early, and that was a let down,” Silverstein said.
THE ANTICIPATION AND EXPECTATIONS
Spring Fest this year was an outlier to previous Spring Fests, according to Alana Hillman (senior), who performed as a student DJ during Swell’s set.
“I think this year is hard to compare to past years because we didn’t really have a headliner. Even though Ravyn did a great job, GoldLink was the planned headliner. It significantly changed the mood of the concert because it ended with a slower, R&B vibe instead of a turnt up rapper,” Hillman said.
Hillman said she had been waiting for the opportunity to perform at Springfest for several months.
“Programming Board decided to open the [student DJ position] to applicants so I then created a 40-minute mix to give Programming Board a sense of my style and skill set. Around a week later, I found out that they picked me.” Hillman said. “Recording a 40-minute set required a lot of time, energy, and love on top of school, so it was a beyond amazing feeling to have my hard work pay off. It was really rewarding to have Programming Board trust me enough to give me the opportunity.”
Despite GoldLink’s cancellation, Birch said Programming Board was not worried about student turn-out.
“We didn’t expect the show’s attendance to be dramatically lower, and it didn’t seem like that was a major issue,” Birch said.
According to Birch, 985 total people attended the event — 847 students and their 138 plus-one guests. Birch said that 383 people checked in to the pre-show and 137 students attended the beer garden. The typical turn out for the concert ranges from 1000 to 1200 guests, Birch said.
ARTISTS ON ARTISTS FALL THROUGH
Programming Board originally planned Spring Fest for the first week in April, but later decided to move it back a week due to religious holidays, like Easter and Passover, that lie on the same weekend. According to Birch, the planning for Spring Fest starts in the fall and Programming Board planned around tentative dates for Coachella weekend.
“We started [planning] in the fall, giving [our agent] a super broad list of people, looking to see if they would be available, and seeing how much they’d be worth,” Birch said. “It started narrowing down after Coachella was decided, and a lot of the names went off the board. So we originally had some other artists lined up to be our big bill, but in the end it came down to GoldLink being the best option for us.”
Birch and Associate Director of Student Life Diego Silva, Programming Board’s adviser, said that they had signed contracts with two other headliners, but each ultimately decided to perform at Coachella.
Programming Board first reached an agreement with rapper Vince Staples and later with hip-hop group and self-described boy band Brockhampton. Staples performed April 13 at Coachella. He would have technically been available for Springfest on Saturday night, but according to Birch, Coachella’s contracts with performers have “radius clauses” that limit when and where they can perform.
“Coachella has a radius clause on their artists, so within a certain location and time frame, they can’t be booked anywhere else,” Birch said. “So each time we would negotiate with an artist’s management, get the contract signed, Coachella would go and void it.”
GOLDLINK SLIPS AWAY
According to Silva, Programming Board hires an agent to communicate with the artist’s agents. Silva said he got a call from Programming Board’s agent April 13, informing him that GoldLink had canceled three shows that weekend, including Spring Fest.
“All our agent told us was that he was told that there was a family emergency and that they are very sorry,” Silva said. “It had nothing to do with Occidental in any way. It was a family emergency and he canceled. It was a very simple statement that I think was just passed from one side to the other.”
After the cancelation, Programming Board tried to find a last-minute replacement, and Birch said that they almost secured a headlining performance from the R&B/rap duo THEY.
“Right before we sent the campus-wide email, there was a paragraph talking about how THEY was gonna come perform instead. [Then] five minutes before we sent the email out, we got an email from Coachella saying that we can’t use them either,” Birch said.
Hillman said GoldLink’s cancellation was equally disappointing for the event planners as it was for the student body. According to Anna Palmer (junior), the changes in line up dramatically changed the energy level at the concert.
“I think that with GoldLink the energy would’ve been more upbeat, but I think that having Alana Hillman and Swell helped to bring that energy,” Palmer said.
PRESENTING ALANA, SWELL AND RAVYN LENAE
Swell started his set to a partially filled gymnasium. With more than 400,000 monthly Spotify listeners, Swell’s listener-base is less than half the size of Ravyn Lenae’s and about 7.6 percent of GoldLink’s. According to Palmer, his set was impressive.
“I hadn’t listened to him before but I thought his set was solid. He didn’t bring much energy, but the music was really good,” Palmer said.
Hillman said Swell’s talent made his performance stand out. She opened up the concert at 8 p.m. but carried through after Swell arrived, sharing the stage with him as his DJ.
“I really enjoyed his set, I learned a lot while listening to him perform. He’s a very technically strong DJ and has an impressive ear for music that shows with his unique blends of sounds and beats,” Hillman said.
Hillman said she felt the anticipation of the crowd as soon as she got on stage.
“I was so nervous, my hands were shaking, [but] once I got more comfortable I was able to really enjoy my set. My set was actually supposed to be from 8:30–9:30 p.m., but Swell was running late so I had to perform for around 45 extra minutes. That was pretty challenging but it turned out great and gave me a chance to grow even more as a DJ,” Hillman said.
Ravyn Lenae graced the stage at 11 p.m. and stayed until 11:50 p.m. Switching between songs from her EP “Moon Shoes,” released in 2016, and her EP “Crush,” released last February, Lenae performed a variety of jazzy and upbeat songs. According to Eli Berg (junior), her performance was memorable.
“I thought she was a good performer and the vibe of her performance was energetic. But I wouldn’t say I had a favorite part,” Berg said.
Lenae, who is 19 years old, performed with a live band, which was a pleasant surprise for Palmer.
“I was happily surprised by the energy the band brought to her performance, I only have ever seen her with a DJ so that was a really cool addition,” Palmer said.
Lenae’s R&B mood allowed students to sit back and relax, according to Hannah Schoenberger* (junior).
“Ravyn Lenae was an incredible performer. Her voice was amazing and she was so engaged with the audience, I love her and can’t believe she’s younger than me,” Schoenberger said.
According to Silva, unused funds from student services such as Programming Board are returned back to the general Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) fund. The budget for Programming Board is set by ASOC Senate at the beginning of each year.
However, both Silva and Birch said that they hope that Programming Board can keep the funds that would have been used for GoldLink for use next year.
“We’re working on finding a way to make sure that money doesn’t get used for something else and that Programming Board’s budget looks relatively similar, hopefully with the additional amount tagged on to whatever we have,” Birch said.
According to ASOC Vice President of Finance Jarron Williams (senior), Silva has made an informal request for Programming Board to retain its unused money. Williams said next year’s Senate will ultimately decide Programming Board’s budget.
“In all honesty, it would be dependent on Senate, the Senate that comes next,” Williams said. “My advice to that Senate would give it to them, because at the end of the day, that money was allocated for that reason, period, to begin with.”
*Hannah Schoenberger is a photographer for The Occidental.