For the first time since its inception in 2010, Occidental’s SpringFest will have a true festival aspect. The event on Saturday centers around the concert’s headliner, Talib
Kweli, best known for his work as half of the New York City-based rap duo Black Star. In addition to the typical evening concert, Programming Board (PB) has added pre-show events that include a rock-climbing wall, bouncy house, obstacle course and food trucks, among other attractions.
“I really like the idea of having a festival versus just a show,” Director of the Office of Student Life (OSL) and Assistant Dean of Students Tamara Rice said. “I think its a great community builder. I love when we have events that students are looking forward to and getting exciting about.”
The first change implemented to this year’s SpringFest is its location. The concert will be held on upper campus in the Greek Bowl which has not happened since rapper Common performed at the school in 2012.
“This year we’re holding [SpringFest] up on upper campus because we’re really trying to keep it enclosed to the Oxy community,” PB manager and politics major David Cotton (senior) said.
KOXY will host a stage on Stewie Beach and food trucks will be available, according to Cotton. In addition, there will be a photo booth, dunk tank and a henna tattoo artist for students to enjoy.
The two most recent on-campus concerts took place in the Academic Quad and Rush Gymnasium, and organizers believe that moving the concert back to the Greek Bowl will provide a more authentic concert feel.
“Upper campus really makes it Oxy’s own,” Rice said. “I think the Greek Bowl is the best venue for the concert. It has got some great sounds and I love the vibe in there.”
Cotton believes Kweli brings with him a unique style when compared to previous Occidental concert artists.
“We thought he has a really good message,” Cotton said. “In the past, with artists like Chance the Rapper and Snoop Dogg, the message wasn’t quite as in line with Oxy’s message as we would ideally like it to be. First and foremost, the concert is about having a good time, but it is also important to send the right message, and I think we found that in Talib Kweli.”
Despite PB’s faith in the decision, the choice of another hip-hop artist for SpringFest was met with some student discontent. However, much deliberation from representatives of PB, KOXY, Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) and OSL went into the decision.
“I know there is oftentimes criticism about the hip-hop artists we bring in, but hip-hop tends to be what’s in our budget, and hip-hop artists put on really good live shows,” Rice said. “The artists do tend to be hip-hop, but it’s not that we are ignoring bigger genres, it’s just the way it usually works out.”
According to Cotton, PB’s budget for SpringFest was cut after Snoop Dogg’s performance in 2011. Most of that decrease in funds is felt in the budget for the artist, as other operating costs are held constant.
“The budget cut is really felt in our ability to pay the artist,” Cotton said. “Working with the budget given to us, we looked at the artist who would have the biggest appeal at Oxy.”
According to Rice, part of the decision was based on Kweli’s previous success at the school. He performed at Occidental in 2006 and was well-received by students. Rice believes his message will be as well-received this time as the last.
In addition to Kweli’s performance, female soul rock singer Res will open Saturday night’s show, and Occidental’s own economics major Aseem Mangaokar (junior), one-half of the DJ duo Hotel Garuda, will close.
Together Talib Kweli and Res make up the duo Idle Worship, a two-in-one dynamic that students who attend SpringFest can look forward to seeing. The two have performed sold-out shows in the past, and together, will bring variety and entertainment to this year’s SpringFest.
The pre-show will begin at 3 p.m. on Stewie Beach and in the Norris/Braun parking lot. Doors open at 8 p.m. in the Greek Bowl. Res opens at 9 p.m., Talib Kweli performs at 9:30 p.m. and Hotel Garuda closes 11 p.m. to midnight.