Spring Concert poll gives students a voice

This year, the committee organizing the Spring Concert has increased transparency and inclusivity by providing a poll of possible artists. Here is a discussion of the seven most promising performers. / Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Spring Concert Committee has been planning for what is arguably Vassar’s most well-attended event besides Founder’s Day. This year, the committee decided to become more transparent and inclusive. The preliminary stage has recently begun with sending out a poll to the student body consisting of 23 artist ranging in genre from rap to indie rock. The committee consists of ViCE, VSA Programming and the Tra- ditions Committee, all united to make Spring Concert 2018 the best in Vassar’s history. Reflecting on the joint collab- oration effort, Traditions Committee Co-Chair Ashley Hoyle ’18 said, “Thus far it’s been a joy working with ViCE.They’re great at their jobs and we’re learning a lot from one another!”

In response to increasing campus transparency in booking an artist for the event, Hoyle said, “At the end of the day, the most essential part of our process was to include as many student voices as we could gather and to open our space to folks who haven’t had the opportunity to contribute to large-scale campus programs in the past.” The poll results will hopefully show the committee which artists students want to see the most. However, prices and artist availability will also come into play, which may inhibit the committee from booking its top choice. So, there is a possibility that the committee ends up booking an artist that doesn’t appear in the student-wide poll, but, Hoyle said, “Likely we [the committee] will be selecting an artist or artists from the list.”

In terms of compensation, $75,000 has been allocated to the committee for hosting the entire event. Besides booking an artist, there are decorations, sound equipment, staging, lighting and labor to consider financially. Hoyle spoke candidly about the increase in pressure that comes with transparency. “To be in the planning process in such a visible way really makes you vulnerable. It is part of the job to address the concerns, frustrations and often harsh complaints that people have about these large events. The pressure stems from doing that well and attempting to build community in a positive way even when there are so many competing interests and the stakes are so high when the budget and attendance are as well.”

At last year’s concert, Kamaiyah’s set astounded the student body with her bumping “How Does it Feel” paired with the equally playful “Out the Bottle.” Her performance is going to be a tough act to follow, but this year’s most talked about prospects are anything but disappointing. Here is a review of what I deem to be seven of the most promising performers that appear on the poll.

Princess Nokia: Princess Nokia has truly landed a name for herself, especially with the release of her album “1992 Deluxe.” She grounds her lyrics in an autobiographical style drawing from childhood and her New York City roots. Although her song “Tomboy” is best known for its repetitive chorus and anthem-like feel, “Brujas” and “Bart Simpson” follow closely behind. Throughout the past few years, she has honed her rap skills, which she would bring to the Spring Concert stage. Overall, Princess Nokia is a solid contender, busting out the empowered femme artist persona adored by her loyal fans.

Anderson .Paak: This R&B artist’s road to success was neither quick nor easy, but after 13 years, he landed himself a record deal. Anderson .Paak and his band, the Free Nationals, have found a funk-inspired sound coupled with elements of hip-hop and blues. His most popular song, “Come Down,” would be a great opener to start off the Spring Concert. Its shifty bass line has an undeniable funk beat that makes you want to get up and dance. He would embody the energetic essence that Vassar students traditionally associate with the Spring Concert.

Aminé: This Portland-based rapper’s new single, “Squeeze,” would be a definite hit paired with the wildly popular “Caroline” that’s featured on his album “Good for You.” To see Aminé perform “Spice Girl,” a light-hearted pop-rap track, would be just as riveting. In one interview, Aminé sheepishly said, “To be honest with you the Spice Girls were the first concert I went to” (Genius, “Aminé ‘Spice Girl’ Official Lyrics & Meaning,” 11.01.2017). Seamlessly merging off-center melodies with finely-tuned rap segments, he is dedicated to making authentic and fun music for his fans. Vassar students would be both sonically surprised by his lesser-known stuff and comforted by the recognizable chorus to “Caroline.”

BROCKHAMPTON: This Los Angeles collective’s 2017 album, “SATURATION,” reveals the group’s diversity in sound that ranges from acoustic to rap. The group’s use of capitalization evokes the exaggerated and amplified production inherent in every track. “GOLD” is the hit track that stands out from the rest of the record, with swift beats and an exuberant overall vibe. Famously known for performing in neon clothes and body paint, BROCKHAMPTON would be a sight to see at Vassar College. In addition to being visually appealing, their unconventional and dreamlike sound would be unique to experience.

Cardi B: Most widely known for “Bodak Yellow,” the formerly internet-famous Cardi B is an emerging mainstream rap artist whose beats and melodies just keep getting better. She is arguably the most popular artist on the Spring Concert list, and for good reason. While the worry of too much mainstream sound is completely valid, this power femme rapper has some other things up her sleeve. Recently featured with Nicki Minaj in Migos’ single “MotorSport,” she asserts her dominance in the music world. As she continues to emerge as a celebrity artist in the music industry, the question will be whether or not the committee can book her arises.

The Internet: Emerging from Odd Future, the hip-hop R&B group the Internet has some extremely talented membership. Lead singer and songwriter Syd has both an impressive stage presence and vocal range. Although songs from their 2015 record Ego Death like “Special Affair” and “Girl” have received the most press, “Get Away” shows Syd’s capacity for singing soprano coupled with beautiful jazz harmonies. One reservation would be that the group’s ambient and dreamy sound quality doesn’t exactly invite the type of thrill that the Spring Concert requires. Their son- ic variety is what separates the Internet from the rest of the pack.

Beach House: Although this American dream pop band has been around since 2004, its sound continues to show its members’ experimentation with sound and harmony. Their innovation is best highlighted by their minute-long introductions that consist solely of electronics and instrumentals. The group’s psychedelic sound is what attracts their fairly large audience. However, Beach House’s songs lack conventional melodies as a whole. Especially in their better-known songs like “Space Song” and “Myth,” Beach House offers listeners introspection and entrancement. Beach House is a brilliant group, but their off-center energy might not be entirely appropriate for the Spring Concert.

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