Springfest 2013 at Brandeis University

Posted: June 4, 2013 in News Updates, Reviews, Up-and-Coming Artists
Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar (by Matt Schaff)

This article, co-written by myself and Zach Goulet, was originally published, like much of my other work, in The Justice, one of Brandeis University’s student-run newspapers.  However, the final version of the article that was sent to print was never uploaded to the website, so I have no way of sharing it here on The Sound Hound. Thus, here is the original version of the article submitted to the paper by Zach and I.

The sun shined brighter than it had in days as Brandeis’ student population rose from bed on Sunday morning. Finally, the day of the highly anticipated annual SpringFest concert festival, run by the school’s Student Events organization, had arrived. The student-run group has managed to book many tremendous artists, which this year included Brandeis’ own Gabe Goodman, 5 & A Dime, Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. and Kendrick Lamar. The gorgeous weather was quite fitting for the stupendous lineup, making the entire event a huge success. “I can’t remember a SpringFest that has fallen on a lousy day,” said Ben Sargent ’13. This year’s SpringFest without a doubt lived up to all expectations.

Gabe Goodman ’15, supported by Samson Klitsner ’15 and University of Massachusetts’ Jon Young on bass and drums, respectively, opened the festival with a “Unnatural,” an unreleased original composition, attracting countless spectators to Chapels Field who bounced to the summer pop and noshed on the delicious food provided.  Unlike in the past, Student Events managed to secure several hot food trucks as well as a 21+ Beer Garden that provided a brand new dynamic to the festival.  Despite such distractions, the singer/songwriter was able to absolutely pack the area around the stage as early as 2:30 p.m. due to both domination of the competition for the opening spot, his sheer talent and his major presence on campus. Goodman, who performed several of his live staples, such as “Bent Fiction” and “Midnight Sour” as well as several new songs, was ecstatic about the concert.  “It was an incredible opportunity and probably one of the most memorable days of my life,” he exclaimed. And it was evident the other two members of Goodman’s band shared their frontman’s enthusiasm. Klitsner and Young were at the top of their form, bringing a new level of liveliness to the sophomore’s indie numbers.

Following Goodman was Philadelphia DJ/Producer 5 & A Dime, known for his incorporation of electronic dance music into a Top 40 sound. The artist is currently touring with SpringFest headliner Kendrick Lamar and DJ Steve Aoki as part of the #Bassmob Spring Tour, which includes mostly East Coast universities. Unlike many DJs, Dime actually left his safe haven of sorts behind the turntable and interacted with the audience—the DJ’s club-bred electronic music received a much more dramatic, dance-filled response from the audience than the next act.

By the time, Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr., took the stage, a moderately sized group of people occupied Chapels Field. The weather couldn’t have been better and everyone was already having a great time, which made the group’s job fairly easy. Detroit’s indie outfit Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr, whose attendance in the festival was only announced several days prior to their performance, played an energetic set characteristic of their live performances. The band’s Jewish member, Joshua Epstein, drew solidarity from the many Jewish members of the audience with a shout-out and an off-color quip about Jewish girls, which elicited many laughs.

The relatively unknown duo quickly grabbed the attention of the crowd and kept it throughout the duration of their brief set, which included songs from all three of the band’s EPs, its only album to date, and several singles. The duo managed to blend analogue instruments with electronic components and captivating harmonized vocals, delivered with high energy that solidified their presence onstage.

Since their music isn’t exactly what one might consider dance music, there was a small but enthusiastic dance section in the crowd. The lack of studio effects was evident in their live performance, and their performance was not as flawless as on their recorded work. At this point in their career, they seem to be following the current trend in pop music of combining instrumental and electronic elements. That being said, many concert-goers expressed that they were in fact pleasantly surprised by the smaller band’s talent and presence.

As the evening crept up on Chapels Field, Compton-native Kendrick Lamar, donning a Brandeis sweatshirt, resurrected the classic West Coast hip-hop feel that Tupak Shakur made so popular in the 1990s. Lamar’s on-stage sound is rawer and less produced than his studio work. Motoring through tracks from his breakthrough release Section .80 and the most recent and sensational Good Kid M.A.A.D City the unlikely superstar boasted intense talent on Sunday evening.

It was extremely evident that Lamar was indeed the headliner and artist about whom every single member of the massive audience that almost completely packed the field was most thrilled. The rapper commanded the crowd with the prowess of a weathered star. Some of the most stirring moments of his set included his dramatic cover of A$AP Rocky’s smash hit, “F***king Problems,” “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” from Good Kid and “A.D.H.D.” and “Hiiipower” from Section .80.  However, the absolute best instant of the entire 2013 SpringFest was, by far, Lamar’s rendition of Good Kid’s “Swimming Pools (Drank),” which had the entire audience singing every single lyric along with him.

Many have compared Kendrick Lamar to California hip-hop moguls such as Snoop Dogg and even Dr. Dre, and this parallel is certainly somewhat accurate. Like the boss dogg, Kendrick marched across the stage, interacting with the audience between and during nearly every song, accommodating for the absence of a live band that often significantly improves rap concerts. Despite the rapper’s somewhat short set, while he was physically performing, Lamar treated the audience like the royalty he is and should be recognized as a dominant force in the hip-hop world.

Over the course of every school year, Brandeis’ student body raves about previous SpringFests, anticipating how the next celebration will compare. It is safe to say that this year’s concert will be recorded in everyone’s memory as one of the best to date. Ethan Stein, ’15 who snagged a private, post-show picture with Lamar, summarizes, declaring, “Student Events [has] outdone [itself] once again. SpringFest was a blast, filled with fun and great entertainment. Despite the crunch time for work, students came together to enjoy a great day, with great music, and friends and fantastic weather.”  Does it get any better than that?

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