Wiz Khalifa lights up UB Spring Fest
Low attendance and tight barricades don’t stop students from enjoying fest
Friday night’s low attendance may have made this year’s Spring Fest more enjoyable than past concerts.
Wiz Khalifa, Zara Larsson and Hippie Sabotage were featured in this year’s concert failing to pack Alumni Arena Friday evening. This year’s fest cost Student Association nearly $440,000 on the total production of the show -- roughly $90,000 more than last semester’s Fall Fest.
The total cost included roughly $210,000 for security measures, staffing, zone barricades, food and hospitality for the artists.
Approximately $230,000 was spent on talent compared to $190,000 spent on last semester’s Fall Fest. Fall and Spring Fest are funded by the mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 per semester.
SA reserved roughly 5,700 tickets for undergraduate students and 500 for guests. According to Marc Rosenblitt, SA’s entertainment coordinator, around 3,300 people were in attendance for the show.
Rosenblitt was disappointed with the low attendance rate, but thinks the show was a success.
“Everything from the logistics, staff, artist satisfaction and security went according to plan,” Rosenblitt said. “Compared to past fests, this one has been absolutely amazing, to my knowledge there were no arrests and no ambulance transports, too.”
Rosenblitt plans on emailing all students that registered for tickets but did not come to the show to ask them why they didn’t attend.
“We really care about the student body’s satisfaction,” Rosenblitt said. “We want to know why people registered but didn’t come to the fest. If people didn’t like the zoning, lineup, ticketing process, we want to know so we can improve in the future.”
But most of the students who attended left with a memorable experience.
Dressed head to toe in all white and his baby blue varsity jacket, Wiz Khalifa was the star of the show. He opened with “Bake Sale,” a trap-dominated track with a melodic hook from Travis Scott.
He and Taylor Gang members got the crowd fired up by passing out giant inflatable RAW joints to audience members.
Khalifa repeatedly asked the crowd “Who here smokes weed?” and the crowd erupted. His relaxed attitude and various weed themed graphics were a good fit for the set. He sporadically took hits from his THC pen throughout the show.
Khalifa catered to fans old and new by playing a generous mix of his material. From classics like “Black and Yellow,” “Mezmorized” and “Young Wild and Free” to newer hits like “You and Your Friends” and “We Dem Boyz,” the crowd ate up every ounce of the rapper’s performance.
Mike Scholl, a junior philosophy major, said Khalifa’s performance was the best part
of the concert and felt the people who registered but didn’t attend were missing out.
“It’s always nice to have a big star like Wiz come to Buffalo, the first two acts were OK, but well worth it to hear Wiz,” Scholls said. “
Beatmaker and engineer GRAVES opened the night’s sonic selections with hip-hop lead, booming cuts. The Grammy-winning artist, who has engineered for Kanye West, boasted an array of reimagined EDM rap mixes.
GRAVES electrically matched everything from vocal ad-libs and drops to ecstatically charged cuts of Drake’s “Child’s Play” Rae Sremmurd’s “Swang” and Lil Jon’s “Bend Ova.”
GRAVES left to give EDM duo Hippie Sabotage time to shine, as they kicked things off with overarching crowd participation.
At roughly 7 p.m., the Californian duo Hippie Sabotage enthusiastically started their performance asking “what the f*ck” is up to the UB crowd. The crowd had a mixed response to brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer, despite Kevin rocking a “University at Buffalo DAD” tee.
Kevin, Hippie Sabotage’s hype man, hopped around and commanded the mosh pit as his brother Jeff rocked the boards on-stage. Kevin drew delight from the crowd as he surfed above their heads, throwing water at students and smoking weed.
The set was full of bangers and adlibs yelled out by Kevin as tees were thrown into the crowd. The group’s zoning and droning music was appreciated by attendees, but mainly for those on the floor. Hippie Sabotage’s mix-filled set featured reimagined cuts of Gucci Mane’s “That’s All” as well as their popular remix of Tove Lo’s “Stay High.”
The duo’s set left some students walking out of Alumni with prized possessions.
Matt Percello, a junior pharmacy and toxicology major, walked away with the “STAY HIGH” hoodie that Jeff rocked on-stage. Percello regularly listens to Hippie Sabotage and he rightfully earned the hoodie after his friend tracked down the performer.
But the concert didn’t come without its shortcomings.
Hussein Yusuf, a freshman intended engineering major, said he thought Hippie Sabotage was “lit,” but couldn’t enjoy the show because the zone he was sitting in was too far away from the stage.
“If you weren’t in the blue or red zone you totally missed out during their performance,” Yusuf said. “I totally felt left out since they were only moshing in the front zones, it really sucked that I couldn’t be a part of that.”
Students in the red and blue floor zones complained they were being pushed against the barrier and couldn’t breathe, even after an announcement to stop pushing. Some students left the show because they were uncomfortable.
Nicole Rudnicki, a freshman mathematics major, was at the front of the barricades and said that pushing and shoving had gone on for 10 minutes without security noticing.
“I’m literally being squished by hundreds of people against this barricade and it’s really hard to breathe,” Rudnicki said. “Security told everyone to stop but as soon as they stopped yelling the pushing continued.”
Security shrugged their shoulders as students screamed in visible discomfort. Students were pushed from behind and asked to be removed from their front row view.
Despite Friday’s good weather, the concert was held indoors due to logistical reasons.
Fans began lining up for the show at approximately 4 p.m. with doors to the arena opening at about 5 p.m. Compared to previous fests, the wait to enter the arena was drastically shorter and less stressful.
Steven Gothan, a junior communication major, and Charles Whittle, a senior psychology major, were among the first in line. The two arrived at about 4:30 p.m., planning on relaxing during one of the most stressful times of the semester.
“I’ve listened to Hippie Sabotage a little bit and I liked Wiz a few years ago, he’s a huge rapper so why not see him if it’s free,” Gothan said. “I have to admit – I would’ve liked to see someone a little more current perform. Zara’s popular and you hear her music everywhere, but I would’ve like someone more current as far as rap artists are concerned.”
Whittle said that the line-up’s variety is fair and thinks the fest provides diversity compared to the country-dominated Tailgate Concert Series.
After Hippie Sabotage’s attempt to hype the crowd, pop star Zara Larsson doubled their efforts and took the stage by storm.
Larsson, fresh off the release of her album So Good, treated concertgoers to candy-coated cuts from the powerfully belted “What They Say” and “Don’t Let Me Be Yours.” The latter track saw Larsson using her pop sensibilities to re-interpret Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”
The star deliciously offered more toned-down pieces like “Make That Money Girl” and danced on stage to charm the crowd.
As the set began its closing portion, performers got down to rap both new and old. After energetically dancing to Silkk the Shocker’s “It Ain't My Fault,” Larsson effortlessly transitioned into her upbeat cut “Ain’t My Fault.”
She concluded her set with “So Good,” the title single off her debut and the pop-house cut “Never Forget You.”
Jeremy Rojo, a sophomore political science major, said Zara Larsson was the highlight of the night.
“I love Zara, she and her dancers were so on point and she sounded amazing live,” Rojo said. “My favorite song she performed was ‘Lush Life,’ she hit all the high notes and I’m so happy that I was able to see her live.”
Lexi Serwon, a sophomore physics major, only stayed for Zara Larsson’s mix of poppy jams and ballads.
“I definitely listened to Zara more when I heard she was coming but it was so hard, this year, to get tickets with my friend, she had to swap tickets to get in my section,” Serwon said. “Overall, I just feel like Wiz is flat rap and I like a bit of a tune when it comes to rap music, some kind of better meaning.”
In spite of those who left, music fans that stuck around were treated to closing tracks like “See You Again” and “Young, Wild and Free.” The crowd echoed the song’s bridges as they waved their hands from side to side. Khalifa thanked the Buffalo crowd and smiled before walking off stage.