The best of the fests

Why this year’s Spring Fest lineup soars compared to previous lineups


I was a little upset when I found out Spring Fest fell on May 5, the same day as another concert I was planning on going to.

I was even more upset, and slightly concerned, when I decided to sell my tickets to my show to attend this year’s fest without even knowing the lineup.

In years past, SA has been hit or miss when it comes to booking talent at UB’s festivals and I really didn’t want to sacrifice my seats for the breathtaking Jorja Smith -– emphasis on breathtaking –– and wind up seeing some hot rapper I’ll forget in a few months.

But my trade may not be so one-sided after all.

This year’s Spring Fest lineup is as good as it’s been in recent history and it’s certainly the best festival lineup I’ve seen since starting at UB last fall.

Even though I’ve seen the likes of Travis Scott, Zara Larsson and Rae Sremmurd hit the stage at UB’s festivals, this semester’s lineup is my favorite yet.

A$AP Ferg is preparing to take over hip-hop, Ty Dolla $ign has a string of unforgettable classics and Daniel Caesar is the best opening act money can buy.

All three of these guys are the real deal. We didn’t get hit with any of the novelty acts I was worried about. We didn’t get stuck with Lil-anyone –– no offense to Wayne. We got a lineup of real talent in rap and R&B.

SA absolutely killed it with this one. They gave me exactly what I wanted.

I’d much rather see a lineup that appeals to students who have different rap-centric music tastes. I wanted to see artists who will be remembered down the line. And it looks like we got just that this year.

Of course, SA’s survey results inspired them to book hip-hop and R&B acts, but the association still managed to find three from different branches of the two genres.

And that made me realize something –– even with hundreds of student surveys to skim through and the same genres being requested every year, students were still upset about the lineup announcement. At this point, SA could pick Frank Ocean and Beyoncé and there still will be at least one student who isn’t happy.

A$AP Ferg comes from the current biggest group in hip-hop if we don’t count Migos. His latest record is full of peak trap hits, too. I’m personally not a huge fan, but I do know many who are.

Ty Dolla $ign is the veteran in the lineup. He’s been in the game for a long time –– at least to a 19-year-old music fan’s standards. “Paranoid” and “Or Nah” kept us rocking a few years back, and his features will do the same. He’s the mainstream guy of the bunch, as well.

As for this year’s opening act, SA picked one of my favorite rising stars in R&B.

Daniel Caesar is known for his soulful love songs and slow jams, but most Spring Fest attendees are looking for something a little more energized. I’m concerned that students may just show up late, or they’ll spend his set scrolling through Instagram and wondering when Ty Dolla $ign is coming out.

Well, they’d surely be missing out.

His music may not be as lively as that of Ty or Ferg, but Caesar is going to put on an incredible show for students who make it to the festival early. This is the same guy who sold out five consecutive shows at the Danforth in Toronto this past winter, so there’s no need to brush him off.

When SA announced Caesar, students flooded the replies with “who” and dissatisfied memes of that sort. But for students who’ve never heard of him, one spin of “Freudian” should make you a fan. Those who are familiar know he’s a killer songwriter, has a stunning voice and can keep a crowd mesmerized. I honestly can’t wait to see him on that stage, even if I am the only one singing along.

Last year, there were plenty of student complaints about Wiz Khalifa headlining Spring Fest. Before the show, I heard complaints that he fell off and was past his prime. Yet I remember walking away from Alumni after the show and hearing nothing but praise about his performance.

Dolla $ign should offer the same amount of recent-throwback excitement on stage. The singer/rapper may not have many current solo hits, but older jams and his popular features should be enough to keep us engaged.

Even with a rising R&B star and a man who’s been in the game a while, it’s nice to have A$AP Ferg as this year’s cherry on top.

Getting there early is a must, as supporting local talent is just as important, if not more, than catching the headliners.

As students, we often underestimate the talent of the opening acts at our festivals. Ferg may get the crowd hyped with “Plain Jane” and Ty may keep our eyes glued to the stage with “Paranoid,” but Caesar’s “Best Part” will be the best part of the show for me. And yes, there will be tears.

Brenton Blanchet is the senior arts editor and can be reached at Brenton.Blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BrentBlanchSpec.