Author: Mallory Fencil
A mere five days after their debut performance on “Saturday Night Live” and one day after their single “Thrift Shop” went quadruple platinum, the chart topping Hip-Hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis headlined Occidental College’s 2013 Springfest. Their 2012 album “The Heist” reached the number two position on the US “Billboard” 200 list and “Thrift Shop” topped the Hot 100 list earlier this year. The college’s students, alumni and neighbors were invited to attend yesterday’s fourth annual concert organized by the school’s Programming Board.
Earlier this week, the Programming Board announced that the performance was being relocated from the Greek Bowl to Rush Gym due to potential weather conditions. “Once the forecast was above 50%, the production company told us that we needed to move inside, and so we executed the rain plan,” Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life Tamara Rice said. “Rush Gym is really the only indoor venue that can accommodate large numbers, so we knew that would be our only indoor choice. Before deciding to move to Rush Gym, we did consider trying to cover the equipment outside in the Greek Bowl, but the quote we received for tenting the equipment was way out of our price range.” But moving the show from the Greek Bowl to Rush Gym caused an issue for many students and alumni.
Due to capacity issues, the “plus one” invitation that all students have been allowed at previous Spring Fests was being reconsidered, and the alumni plus one was revoked entirely. “The plus one was not a factor in deciding to move indoors. But, it became a factor in regards to venue capacity. We were anticipating about 3,000 total attendance in the Greek Bowl and the Rush Gym capacity for this event was around 2,000, so we knew we had to do something about how to manage who to allow in,” Rice said.
“We have decided on the following invitations,” an email from Rice read. “All current Oxy students with an Oxy ID, Oxy +1 (up to 150 guests), Oxy faculty/staff who previously registered for Springfest, Oxy alumni who previously registered for Springfest (+ 1 no longer invited).” Occidental students who intend to host a guest were thus required to register their plus one and only 150 were accepted.
Many students were inconvenienced by the change in policy. Gabby Hanna (sophomore) and her sister had planned on enjoying the concert together. “We had to work around a number of conflicts (mainly because we both have busy lives!), but were able to figure out a way for her to drive up here and attend the concert. The limit on the number of plus and the fact that even if you pre-register you aren’t guaranteed a spot for your guest is incredibly inconvenient and really last-minute,” Hanna said. “If my sister drives all the way up here, after me having woken up at 6 a.m. [Wednesday] morning to frantically try to register her before all the other hundreds of students trying to do the exact same thing, just to find that the gym is too full would be a serious disappointment to me and her.” Thankfully, Hanna’s sister, as well as every other plus one who checked in, was accepted into the concert and capacity was not reached.
Despite the set backs, many students were very pleased with the choice in artist. “I’m excited to see Macklemore play because he’s a big accomplishment for Seattle hip-hop,” John Henry (sophomore) said. “I think Oxy made a great choice. Even if they weren’t getting national attention they are right now, he would be a great choice. They are amazing performers that can really turn a crowd up without offending too many people, which is something you need to be at this school.”
Henry has already seen Macklemore perform twice. “He’s got an amazing stage presence and tons of energy. He’s a really well rounded performer and knows how to interact with a crowd. I have never been disappointed with him in concert.”
Once the concert began, the complaints about the venue change did not lessen. “It sounds bad, it is hot, there’s not enough space, clearly,” Alex Luke (senior) said. The opening act, Brother From Another, played to a bustling crowd of eager students. “The crowd was real pushy,” Luke said. “People [were] on four sides of you and constantly pushing at you.” In fact, after the opening act, at about 9:15, the lights were turned on as the entire crowd was asked to move back, and the lights remained on until 9:38 when the crowd had settled down.
Finally, at 9:52, Macklemore and Lewis came on stage playing “Ten Thousand Hours.”
“Occidental, welcome to The Heist,” Macklemore said. “I told my smart friends, it’s cool that you guys go to Occidental, it’s diverse and is in LA, it’s OK.” Macklemore went on to talk about art. “Art is not made so we can sit in our rooms […] art is there to spread.” Before performing the chart topping single “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore asked that a fur coat (similar to the one he wore in the song’s music video) be passed up, which he then wore while singing. Trumpet player Owuor Arunga performed along side Macklemore on most of their songs. “Quick Lesson before tonight’s show @occidentalcollege,” Arunga tweeted.
Ray Dalton was also on stage and accompanied the hip-hop duo for the song “Can’t Hold Us.” Both Macklemore and Lewis jumped into the crowd during the performance, but only Lewis made it back on stage without being dropped. The concert ended with a double encore featuring “We Danced” and “Irish Celebration.”
Overall, the concert was a sensation and left most students satisfied with its Seattle representative, liberal hip-hop music and high energy stage presence. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s Heist World Tour continues with a performance on Friday, March 8 at Dixie State College.
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