Genres collided as Lil Uzi Vert and New Politics performed Saturday at the first outdoor Fall Fest since 2014, bringing a unique energy to this year’s show.
Lil Uzi Vert, known for his high-octane trap ballads, led the line-up which included hip-hopper Blackbear, rock band New Politics and singer Roy Woods. While the crowd began slightly lethargic and dispersed over the large outdoor space, they came together and increased in vitality as the chilly night progressed.
Over 4,000 undergraduate students and guests attended the festival, which found students in five different standing zones, scattered outside of Baird Point. Spacious zones left many sections feeling empty.
Safety remained a priority at the show. This year marked the second straight festival SA did not receive any reports of police or ambulance runs, according to SA entertainment director Matt Cosmai.
SA did not provide the fest’s budget in time for publication. The fest was funded through the mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 per semester.
Student and alumni artist also musically graced both a secondary side-stage -- and at times -- the main stage.
SA President Leslie Veloz brought the idea to include more student-centric performers to Matt Cosmai entertainment director.
“UB has a lot of amazing and talented students, so I thought it was important to make Fall Fest and Spring Fest more student oriented, having a platform for them to showcase their talents,” Veloz said.
Fans began lining up just before 4 p.m. The line at the entrance was noticeably shorter than year’s past, with sophomore graphic design major Malik El-Amin leading the pack.
“I came here early because it’s a free concert, I feel like I would have gotten my money’s worth if I come here and be as close to the performers, like Lil Uzi Vert, as possible,” El-Amin said.
Students were met with immediate music from fellow peers and former UB students. Student openers, however ambitious, seemed to miss their mark with concertgoers besides attracting a select few.
Whereas acts like Remotely and 206 failed to capture much crowd involvement, acts like GoodLuckChuck shined. The DJ, accompanied by UB alum Cletus Emokpae, brought energy with a mix including Fast Life Yungstaz’ “Swag Surfin’” and other throwback bangers.
Noticeably, headliner and Canadian crooner Roy Woods’ set remained relatively short.
The singer, signed to Drake’s Toronto-based OVO label, played just five numbers composed of releases both new and old.
Woods failed to disappoint with a streak of soul, as well. The singer performed his new single “What Are You On?,” showing his potential as a stand-alone contemporary act.
Malida Desvarieux, a freshman intended nursing major, appreciated Woods’ set, but considered the act too short.
“The act was a bit short but his music has this sort-of sensual feel to it, which is great,” Desvarieux said. “I like the feel Roy Woods brings to his music and he makes you really want to slip into what he’s doing on-stage.”
Blackbear’s set was notable more for his monologues in between songs more than the songs themselves. He described his song “Chateau” as being about “dirty,” yet still high-priced hookers and introduced his song “Sniffing Vicodin in Paris” with a braggadocious anecdote about attending New York and Paris Fashion week.
New Politics, a Danish rock band, offered a change of pace from the rap and hip-hop that has dominated Fall Fest in recent years. Attendees who had previously been scattered around the outer rim of the venue, sitting and chatting with their friends, took to their feet and crowded the barricade.
Jared Kibler, a junior communication major appreciated the inclusion of New Politics.
“It’s chill, we’re just hanging out. I had no idea who Roy Woods was, but Blackbear reminded us many times who he was,” Kibler said. “I like that they have New Politics and Lil Uzi. You mix in a little rock and makes it a less rap oriented which it has been the past few years.”
Other students like Justin Kovalsky, a sophomore business administration major, has seen the band perform live in the past and loved their performance of “One Of Us.”
“I liked that there is more of a difference in genre, this year, it’s much better this year,” Kovalsky said. “New Politics was very involved with the crowd and actually went out, got everyone hyped up and made people actually enjoy the night.”
The members of New Politics did take steps to fit into the hip-hop scene. One member showed off some break dancing skills as his bandmates played the opening riff of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Later in the set, the band performed a cover of the Beastie Boys’ song “Sabotage.”
Lil Uzi Vert, best known for his song “XO Tour Llif3,” headlined the show after arriving late to the stage. He immediately jumped into the crowd, delighting in his rainbowed quarter-zip and Marty McFly-inspired light-up kicks.
Cuts like “Sauce It Up” brought the boom to Baird Point, assisting the crowd in hopping like kangaroos to his wonky trap. Other numbers, like “444+222” off his recently released album Luv Is Rage 2, droned the crowd with digital electronic noise as the energy level in the audience skyrocketed.
Students like Conner Doyle, a freshman economics major, appreciated the energy Uzi brought to the UB crowd.
“I’m a huge fan of his and I like how he performed, he seemed like he was trying to surf the entire crowd but in the beginning, he got a couple crowd surfs in,” Doyle said. “I think it should have lasted longer since he had us waiting for awhile, so there should have been a few more songs performed at least.”
Things got strange when Uzi demanded the crowd rage, as both the red and blue zones spazzed to create a maddening scene. The rapper danced with his light-up sneakers on a secondary stage, convincing fans to follow his lead to the other side of the venue.
Audience members from the purple zone began hopping the barricades to join in the revelry. Guards stationed at the barricades conceded to the chaos with shrugs.
Elsewhere, fans grew rowdy as Uzi performed his hit verse from Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” while playing newly released, slow track “The Way Life Goes” as purple smoked filled the stage.
The night ended abruptly when the rapper threw his mic into the audience, telling fans to sing the hit song for themselves. It was an unconventional conclusion to a set by a rapper who embraces randomness and on-stage absurdities.
Benjamin Blanchet and David Tunis-Garcia are co-senior arts editors and can be reached at email@example.com.
Benjamin Blanchet is the senior engagement editor for The Spectrum. His words have been seen in The Buffalo News (Gusto) and The Sun newspapers of Western New York. Loves cryptoquip and double-doubles.