Spring Splash and I are not friends anymore

Spring Splash 2018 … well it happened. Headlined by an immensely late Lil Uzi Vert, it was the hour-long wait before his set — the stone-faced crowd, repetitive music from the DJ and growing uncertainty of whether the headliner himself would ever actually show up — that encapsulated an overall underwhelming experience. Still though, Uzi’s sublime, narcoticized anthems and Zeds Dead’s genre-bending mixes played perfectly to a crowd of high and inebriated 20-somethings looking for something, anything, to allow them to turn up.

 

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

I shouldn’t try (but can’t help myself from) finding any amusement in the pre-gaming consequences that rock the much livelier patrons at Spring Splash around me. Partially because there’s little reward in laughing at amicable college drunks enjoying themselves, never minding the spectacle when their systems need a good purge. But when that purge happens to be in a walkway where people are eating, the rich comedic possibilities at these student shows are unleashed: A parade of scowls, sympathetic pats on the back and a collective stare that says, “well that’s Spring Splash.” I shouldn’t laugh, but no one got hurt, so it’s pretty funny.

This was maybe two hours in, before the nighttime cold swept in and before the biding underwhelm would reveal itself. It didn’t register with me at that point that this would be my last Spring Splash, assuming I never pay for a guest pass after I graduate (I don’t see that happening but I would have never thought I’d yawn at a Lil Uzi Vert show so who knows). For a lot of other people there, most of whom knew full well it would be the last time they would get to experience a diet festival experience on a budget with so many friends, knowing this placed the onus on them to celebrate the live music with a heightened rage and get as wasted as possible. And at 5 p.m., neither I nor the person sticking their fingers in their mouth to purge the booze they were forced to drink before entering the alcohol-free zone would recognize how paltry this year’s Spring Splash would be.

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

The real hardship is getting through those early hours where people wait patiently for the main event and endure whatever oddities come before. At this time, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone comically drunk to follow with your eyes. Feeling out of place, it might be easy to forget how many aneminities are offered. If anything, the night’s underwhelm arrives in spite of, not because, ASPB’s effort. At the HUB, a lonely silent disco, well, it existed. It was there, and people were too; its existence alone warrants some mentioning, right? On the opposite end, in front of Rivera’s lawn, a ferris wheel taught students the true meaning of friendship. Or something like that. A rock climbing wall, face paint station, Rockstar bar, a yerba mate stand and miscellaneous pleasantries padded out the main experience of live music.

Coast Modern is a band and they play music. But first: A word on alcohol. In theory, prohibiting its sale on campus is fine. Understandable, bearable, whatever. But with most cases of prohibition, the powers that be open doors for other problems to arise. Clever smugglers sneak, among other household items, brushes elaborately housing secret compartments to store liquor, others simply hide it in places guards won’t check. That’s fine, I love it, flex on them when you’re in the clear. But it also makes it a goal to get blasted before entering. Occupied stretchers tell stories of tactical drinkers downing too much too soon, and it’s easy to chuckle when it’s not you who’s on the ground as scores of people eye you down and collectively patronize. So easy, as it turns out.

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

EMT duties are lighter as Coast Modern plays, though. It’s early and relatively calm. They meet the prerequisites to amass something of a crowd. I’m sitting down and a small surge of people briskly follow the source of the guitars that fill the heart of the campus. It’s an unambitious migration of people who wanna give the first band a shot and it happens at every one of these shows. The few fans Coast Modern has in front of them are offset by everyone else awkwardly throwing metal horns up and down, dancing at alien rhythms for the indie pop, surf rock wallpaper. This is not shade.

It took very little time for the influx of people to disperse, leaving the small crowd smaller and the day seeming longer. For what it’s worth, the band was warmly received even by strangers, and they played to the desires of mid-day partiers.

Food break: People throwing up is gross and funny but does not exactly prime the palette for overpriced dining. “You wanna smoke?” “Not really man.” It elevates the surrounding debauchery to theatrics, and I am now friends with everyone in my head so it’s ok to lose my shit and laugh hysterically internally when I’m asked, politely, if someone can head bang to the music beside me. Still not hungry though.

Time is loose but artist schedules are looser: Lauv went on at some time and finished at some time and some people said some of it was great and some said some of it sucked so it really is a matter of perspective. Zeds Dead is late but my friends and I see him walk by twice so we’re confused and cold and bored. I’m in solidarity with the people at the front of the barricade stone-faced through the wait for Uzi.

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

He is up almost an hour past his scheduled time and people enjoy it, I think. I don’t know this crowd but they like it when the music sounds like that the song on that Spongebob episode on ecstasy. Different strokes for different folks and all but I have to question the soundness of mind in transitioning from Cher or Red Hot Chili Peppers to what my ill-informed perspective can only register as dubstep or one of its cousins.

Heads bang like a metal show but I’m even more confused. Friends tell me the crowd is relatively dead for this type of music and I wonder for what genre would a sea of still bodies not be considered a failure. It’s not like they don’t like this music, but the timing of it all and what seemed like a volume limit from my corner of the lawn indicated the cold reception was a product of chance. I then hear someone ask, “What the fuck is up bro,” to a bro, so things can’t be too bad.

So Uzi’s late, and an encroaching anxiety surrounding whether he’d play or not fills the crowd. People leave, others stay and complain. I am compelled to scan the crowd as I stand stone-faced while the DJ plays two songs by XXXtentacion and 6ix9ine’s “Gummo” (I hate that I can’t hate that song). My eyes prime to spot out people from my gender, sexuality and cultural studies class — no luck. (Also a fun game: Scan the crowd during a song like “Faneto” or “All Day,” and count how many non-black people are singing along to every word). I was almost expecting to hear R. Kelly before “The Race” comes on and I’m delighted, if not amused when my friend points out the irony in my reaction.

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

At 9:08 I disappointingly add to the notes on my phone, “No Uzi.” As if in response, though probably a natural end to an hour of down time, he takes the stage. He’s so good, but something is off in both the reception and his set. Maybe the stage was small for someone like him, maybe the transition from genres was off, maybe the crowd was tired, maybe he was great and my lukewarm perception of the atmosphere was a product of my vantage point. Regardless, Uzi took notice and seemed to be bothered that the “ragers” (he pointed these people out when they couldn’t finish his lines, funny enough) weren’t opening pits. “Those are virgin pits” he pointed out. I’m embarrassed, first because of how weak the crowd looks from my eyeview, but more so that I’m just as energy deficient.

It couldn’t have been a conscious decision to place it the day before Mother’s Day, but Spring Splash landed at an inopportune time to inopportune circumstances. We could interpret this as a sign that mothers are responsible for any and all negative outcomes that night, or that these college concerts will always be eclipsed by the better experiences we’ve had at festivals and shows we’ve dropped a few bills on. Interpret it as you will, but it’s unfair to judge any experience of Spring Splash as truly novel; there’s too many factors at play. Maybe you threw up at a Denny’s at 1 a.m. after a great night out with your girls seeing prince Uzi, maybe you threw up at 1 p.m. before a sluggish afternoon with your bros. How late Uzi got there, how virginal the pseudo mosh pits were, how agreeable the dubstep (?) was with your taste, it’s all mush.

 

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