With Saturday’s closing set, the self-proclaimed “trap lord,” A$AP Ferg, wasted no time jumping into his opener “Trap and a Dream.” He rushed the stage as soon as his verse began.
Ferg headlined this year’s Student Association Spring Fest alongside West Coast rapper Ty Dolla $ign and opener Daniel Caesar. Despite a total ticket count of 5,000 with 4,300 that were picked up as of April 30, 3,281 students showed up to Alumni Arena, according to SA Entertainment Director Matt Cosmai. The event cost SA $400,000 for both talent and production, according to SA Entertainment Coordinator Marc Rosenblitt –– $40,000 less than last year’s Spring Fest. The mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 per semester funds the event.
Daniel Caesar gave Spring Fest a headline-worthy performance while students still filtered into Alumni.
Students were excited to sing along with Caesar, whose soulful love ballads won over a trap-seeking crowd. With the majority of his five-song set coming from his Grammy-nominated debut LP “Freudian,” Caesar gave a different approach to the usual UB festival trajectory.
The R&B singer provided the arena with a powerful yet passionate vocal performance, while using a Fender Telecaster for crowd-favorite “Best Part.” Caesar’s touching lyrics echoed through Alumni, especially to those singing along in the front row.
Caesar grabbed the audience's attention, with the excitement and warmth growing as each song progressed. In just five songs, the reserved singer-songwriter redefined UB fest openers.
SA President Leslie Veloz was positive about the whole evening, but her focus was on Caesar’s set.
“He’s adding that neo-soul vibe to this concert which really allows students to see the diversity of the show,” Veloz said.
A$AP Ferg’s hour-long set paralleled Caesar’s short performance. Ferg, who SA saved for last, didn’t evoke tears, but rather uncontrollable momentum that resonated throughout the crowd.
Tensions peaked minutes before Ferg took to the stage, as a fight in the gold zone bleachers section of the arena led to University Police escorting students out. Several students and event staff attempted to break up the altercation before UPD stepped in.
According to witnesses, the dispute began with two students verbally disagreeing then led to physical violence.
Even with a fight in the arena, Ferg got the crowd’s attention just minutes later.
For the last hour of the event, Ferg moved from deeper cuts like “East Coast” to commercial smashes like “Shabba” and “Work.” He showed little reservation toward journeying outward, playing some of his features including the A$AP Mob hit “Hella Hoes” and a cover of Tupac’s “California Love.”
Ferg took several moments to laud the crowd explicitly, while also expressing sorrow and recognition of his friend and Mob member, the late A$AP Yams.
Ferg attempted to close the evening with a rousing performance of his most popular, double-platinum hit, “Plain Jane.” But he only rapped the first few lines of the opening verse before handing the mic over to the crowd.
He knew UB could give him more.
He started the track over, this time running it through in its entirety. Ferg’s massive stage presence and unmatched charisma left the general admission floor shaking from the crowd’s energy.
Ferg had more to say before wrapping up the night.
“You can be whatever the f--k you want to be in life. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t,” Ferg said.
He left the crowd with his trademark sentiment: “Love, peace, A$AP.”
Throughout both Ferg’s and Caesar’s sets, fellow-headliner Ty Dolla $ign stood by with applause and smiles as he watched his fellow performers take to the stage.
Dolla $ign’s own performance marked a moment of pivotal change for the evening, taking the overarching sense of heartfelt ballads left by Caesar into a hard-hitting set of rap hits. Dolla $ign was visibly stoic throughout his performance, rarely moving from center stage.
When he did, his movement was of excitement and applause as he made close contact with the crowd.
Dolla $ign performed memorable hits like “Or Nah,” Post Malone’s “Psycho” and even Kanye West’s “Fade.” The famed rapper made use of his arsenal of features, jumping from track to track with little time in between.
The evening also consisted of several student acts, from DJs to group performers which kept the crowd entertained in between sets.
“Something I was really passionate about this year was making sure that we were able to showcase some of the local talent that we had, the same way that we’re showing the national talent of artists,” Veloz said. “This is a great platform to give students that exposure so that one day, they can do their own show.”
The arts desk can be reached at email@example.com.
Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.
Brian Evans is a senior English major and The Spectrum's senior arts editor.