Damn, ASPB, we’re not even a week into the school year and we already get treated to a concert featuring Playboi Carti and ASAP Ferg. I could have sworn that Grand Canyon GIF on Twitter was hinting at ASAP Rocky, but hey, two ASAP associates in one night rules too.
If you’ve been to any of these school-sponsored events, most of what goes down is relatively consistent. There’s the main stage by the bell tower, a second stage by the HUB (this time hosted by Brownies and Lemonade), attractions in front of the Rivera lawn and food vendors passing Life Sciences and leading to Webber Hall. Same simple stuff — if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But despite campus resources and efforts to better these events, there’s bound to be a thing or two that bogs down some of the great experience. This year’s Block Party was, based on my experience, pretty good — but we asked students what they thought to get a better overview.
HOT: ASPB’s organization
“Going through security and stuff ran smoothly … and the performers do so well and it’s always nice to see artists I have yet to hear.” -Sergio, 2nd-year CMDB major
Short lines and seamless processing made getting into (and out of) Block Party hassle-free. Going from one stage to another or stepping out to grab an energy drink or food was much easier than at a traditional music festival.
NOT: Side attractions
“The rides, one which was mechanical, were kind of laughable.” -David, 3rd-year biology major
And that’s not even factoring the wait times (yikes). Good luck getting into that photo booth unless you arrived early or were down to forego some of that precious time standing in line.
HOT: Crowd energy
“The crowd at the Brownies and Lemonade stage was really great, generally lit the entire time… I was mostly in the back (of the main stage) but it was like standard crowd, lots of energy” -Andreas, 3rd-year Political Science major
Per usual, Block Party welcomed an abundance of students, some pregamed, others sober, all looking to enjoy themselves. It was easy to tune out and enjoy dancing and hanging with friends. Brownies and Lemonade had a DJ set that contrasted the trap-heavy main stage, attracting a sizable bunch. Few things outside of an unexpected meteor landing could have dampened the energy of the day.
NOT: Crowd energy
“The worst aspects definitely include the crowd. It’s stupid to me that they started mosh pits for literally every song. Many small framed people could have been seriously hurt all due to the actions of some drunk or high individuals.” – David, 3rd-year biology major
Disclaimer: Mosh pits are fine … in the right contexts. Metal shows, hardcore shows and more recently some hip-hop artists (Travis Scott, Bones, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert) welcome this type of adrenaline-fueled body slamming — but those are shows specifically catered to paying fans who want that type of environment. It’s no fault of the artists and not inherently the crowd’s fault — if Carti requests a pit, folks are gonna open a pit up, it’s simple concert dynamics.
But for the dudebros with no regard for anyone other than themselves (and the women they think they’re attracting by pounding their chests), the least you could have done is be less of an asshole. And outside of the pit, I witnessed a guy dancing with a girl who, when told he was pushing too much into a girl behind him, responded by faking to punch her. Not the most welcoming of places to have fun.
Of all the complaints, the mosh pits were the most cited — word of mouth and a cursory browse through Twitter will make that apparent.
“I think strongest was the organization and appealing to the majority of students with their choice of artists, because a lot of students showed up.” -Stephanie, 3rd-year business major
Three artists in their prime on the main stage and an EDM-focused second stage were substantial enough to please most attendees. Tired of trap? Brownies and Lemonade put up a rager not a minute-long walk away. And if you got there earlier, Arizona lighted the stage with dancey synthpop.
NOT: Lack of diversity
“I would have liked Latin music … also, there’s so many other genres within hip-hop that could have been explored.” -Stephanie, 3rd-year business major
“If you weren’t into EDM or trap it would be hard to get into.” -Andrew, 3rd-year business major
EDM and trap were the dominant genres of music showcased at Block Party aside from Arizona’s synthpop. While they’re easy crowd pleasers, other genres — possibly variations of hip-hop and electronic music — could have spiced the event up with some much-needed variety. Balancing Carti’s drug-hazed trap and Ferg’s rapid-fire delivery could have been an international singer like J. Balvin (is that too lofty an aim?), lesser-known independent groups like Chicano Batman, pop queen Carly Rae Jepsen or even a unique hip-hop act like Brockhampton.
HOT: New friends!
“I just loved that i was able to get wild with random people in the crowd. Even though we’ve never met before we have shared experience because of UCR, and that made it easy to connect and get loose together.” -Sarah, 2nd-year Media and Cultural Studies major
There’s something special about going to a crowded area and finding someone to connect with. For all we know, those people could very well constitute your posse for HEAT and Spring Splash.
“My friends told me way after I left the performance that there was a guy behind me who was trying to pull me closer but I guess I didn’t realize it … as a freshman I found it really disturbing finding out that a guy was trying to have me dance on him” -Rebeca, 1st-year Liberal Studies
It’s understandable if, when in a crowded area, a few loose hands accidentally land on another person’s back or shoulders, but there’s always a handful of people that have to impose on other people’s bodies. Be a pal: If you see that shit, do something about it.
HOT: Ferg’s energy
“A real performer plays the crowd like a symphony and that’s exactly what he did. He moved all over the stage to make sure all of the audience treasured the moment.” -Sarah, 2nd-year MCS major
As the event drew closer to an end, Ferg’s appearance woke up a crowd that was slowly losing interest. No mosh pits and no tantrums plagued his set, instead he played a number of songs off his recent mixtape, “Still Striving.” “I thought y’all was gonna be more turnt that this,” he disappointedly stated toward the end of his set — understandably so. In response to the energy going back down he played songs like “Shabba” and “Work” off his debut album “Trap Lord.” You’d be hard pressed to deny the dude’s flow, even acapella Fergenstein is a hell of a performer to watch.
NOT: Carti’s energy
“He didn’t know how to orchestrate the crowd, instead letting the DJ address them and get them pumped.” -Sarah, 2nd-year MCS major
“He seemed moody and disconnected” -Andreas, 3rd-year political science major
Man, I love Carti, but I can’t fully vouch for his performance. During his set, he angrily took to standing upon a table and crossing his arms, visibly upsetting the concert workers. And while “Magnolia,” “Wokeuplikethis*” and “Lookin,” the biggest songs off his debut mixtape earlier this year, got the crowd full of energy, the rest of his songs resulted in very little activity.
HOT: It was free!
“I saw Cash Carti and Ferg without spending one penny on a ticket” -Julian, 4th-year psychology major
Ultimately the price of admission made a lot of Block Party’s shortcoming negligible. It’s not often one can just walk right into an ASAP Ferg or Playboi Carti set with a group of your peers — it offered fun without the baggage of begging friends to pay an arm and a leg for a festival you really want to go to.