Cameron Yong and Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Cameron Yong and Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER

Students look to Spring Splash as the action hero to save them from the monster right around the corner (that being midterms). So it’s only fitting for UCR to receive its annual hidden stashes of weed, free heart-attack inducing Rockstar drinks, fried potato wedges on a stick and petting zoo for students to enjoy. Even with Flosstradamus replacing Wiz Khalifa at the very last second, this year’s monster lineup delivered.

The king of “Turn Up” music graces UCR with his presence

I think it’s safe to say that Dijon McFarlane, better known as DJ Mustard, is the king of “turn up” music. If you’ve gone to a party recently there’s no way you haven’t heard “Mustard on the beat, ho!” at the beginning of almost every song played. DJ Mustard treated Spring Splash attendees with high energy and a slew of party hits. Stationed above a large projector, DJ Mustard greeted the crowd and immediately began playing several of the popular songs he’s produced, such as Kid Ink’s “Show Me” and “Rack City” by Tyga.

There wasn’t a single person in the crowd who wasn’t dancing to the music and several people held their phones in the air to snag pictures of DJ Mustard in action. Concert-goers threw inflatable balls into the air as he continued his set with songs like “Who Do You Love” by YG and Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell Em.” When he played “We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa, I noticed some people in the crowd groan with disappointment as it once again dawned on them that Khalifa skipped out on Spring Splash for a “Saturday Night Live” gig.

Nevertheless, spirits were high as the sun beamed on those working up a sweat during the Los Angeles native’s performance. A few even took it upon themselves to cool everyone off by grabbing bottles and splashing water into the crowd. DJ Mustard asked everyone to throw their hands in the air as he continued to play hip-hop favorites like “R.I.P.” by Young Jeezy and “I’m Different” by 2 Chainz.

The projector he was elevated above displayed alternating images of everything from stacks of money on fire to music videos of the tracks he played. Despite the unbearable heat, the crowd never lost its energy, dancing and screaming until DJ Mustard left the stage.

MS MR douses Highlanders with enthusiasm, fun

As the brutal UV rays shone down across campus, students and guests alike nonetheless descended on the scorching hot campus of UC Riverside for the annual springtime festival Spring Splash. After the opening performance of DJ Mustard, MS MR — the duo of Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow, along with their live band — took the stage and filled the spot of indie band that was noticeably absent at last year’s festival. Though the crowd was not entirely suited for their type of music, MS MR gave Highlanders enough of a show to satisfy the absence of diversity in artists from last year.

After much of DJ Mustard’s large crowd dissipated after his performance, those remaining patiently waited under the blazing skies. Though I understand concerts involve lots of people getting sweaty and being too close together — it’s something I love about them when it’s done right — the UCR crowd in particular seemed to not have a great sense of spatial awareness, and unfortunately didn’t seem to care about the show going on too much. It’s certainly not to say everyone, or even the majority, was like this, but there were enough people for it to be noticeable.

As MS MR took the stage, Plapinger, with her bright orange hair and blue jumpsuit, stood backward as the rest of the band began an instrumental buildup. While eventually turning around and dancing around to the opening track, things really got started with the second song, “Fantasy.” Over pulsating bass-synths, Plapinger eagerly jumped and danced around the stage to the dance-friendly track.

Cameron Yong and Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Cameron Yong and Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER

Other highlights included the clap-along “Salty Sweet” and the menacing but energetic “Think of You,” before which Hershenow told everyone to think of an ex-lover, and to unleash all your bad thoughts as you sang along. New material from their upcoming album “Painted,” particularly the lead single and title track, threw a bit of life into the crowd as they sometimes hesitantly danced along to the occasionally darkly-tinged synth pop from the band.

Though the music sometimes could fall into a small rut of being a little slow, the energy of the band, particularly Plapinger and Hershenow, kept everything afloat at the water-titled event lacking any water-related activities. Plapinger’s offhanded comments about the crowd being “turnt,” general candidness (she doused herself with a water bottle halfway through the performance) and overall vibe was that of radiant positivity. She was certainly one of the most smiley performers I’d ever seen as well, and if nothing else was doing it, her infectious smile told you to be happy.

As the band began their last song, the well-known “Hurricane,” it was apparent that the band was fully genuine in their enthusiasm, as Plapinger came out and encouraged the crowd to sing along. In a spring without a splash, MS MR brought a hurricane of fun.

Pusha T keeps the party pushin’ with an exciting set

Donned in a white T-shirt and jeans, Pusha T induced an ecstatic frenzy among Spring Splash concertgoers as he took the stage. Before he even began performing, the crowd was jumping up and down and screaming the rapper’s name. Everyone shouted “I got diamonds on my blocka” during Pusha T’s popular track, “Blocka” while he rapped and walked around the stage. He told everyone to put their hands up as he performed his Rick Ross-assisted hit “Millions,” and seeing as he’s signed to Kanye West’s record label GOOD Music, he made sure to perform tracks he’d collaborated with Yeezus on, including “Mercy” and “Don’t Like.”

The crowd only grew as Pusha T continued his set and several people decided to remain on the outskirts of the stage rather than risk being trampled. “If you appreciate real hip-hop make some noise,” Pusha T said before performing “Pain” as well as a track that originally featured Tyler the Creator, entitled, “Trouble on My Mind.” Pusha T’s style and demeanor, along with his music, was a great mixture of both old and new school hip-hop. He managed to blend traditional hip-hop beats with this generation’s fondness of both rapped and sung vocals. The crowd’s enthusiasm during his performance only further proved that this was a winning combination.

Pusha T interrupted the music to ask the audience if anyone was going to tune in to the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. He announced his support for Mayweather before hopping back into the music and journeying close to the people near the front of the stage.

The undeniable scent of marijuana wafted through the air as Pusha T finished up his set with “Grindin,’” the 2002 hit that put his hip-hop duo Clipse on the map. Pusha T thanked the crowd for coming out and while he made his way off the stage, a few people chanted his name to see if he’d reappear but to our dismay he was done for the day.

Flosstradamus transforms Watkins lawn into scene of debauchery

After the originally planned headliner Wiz Khalifa eschewed the Highlander crowd for a “Saturday Night Live” appearance, Chicago-based trap duo Flosstradamus was set to perform the closing act in Khalifa’s stead.

Moments after the gargantuan DJ platform that consisted of a giant screen and elevated DJ table was wheeled onto center stage, Flosstradamus quickly made their appearance known with an ominous, eerie and somewhat orchestral piece that quickly transitioned into a baritone male vocal sample that simply uttered one word in a staccato, syllable-by-syllable delivery: “Flosstradamus.”

The duo truly began their set with an a capella of their new hit single “Prison Riot” which led into the high-energy trap and big room hybrid drop of “MFU”: Middle Fingers Up. Just one song later, Flosstradamus unleashed a weapon with another hit single, “Mosh Pit.” “Then hit the club and turn the crowd to a mosh pit” were uttered in an aggressive, commanding tone by rapper Casino on the track and Josh Young on the stage, as various portions of the crowd began to open up at an ever-so-slight pace until there was an array of giant open circles on the floor in eager anticipation of the drop. One more utterance of the phrase led into the completely unexpected drop of GTA’s “Hard House,” which sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy. The open circles in the crowd quickly turned into full-on mosh pits that housed the fervor and energy of an early-2000s Slipknot concert.

Cameron Yong and Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Cameron Yong and Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER

The energy was still high through the middle of Flosstradamus’ set, as they continued to play popular selections of their own making, such as “Pillz,” the Valentino Khan remix of “TTU (Too Turnt Up),” “Soundclash,” “Drop Top” and “CROWD CTRL” — the latter of which was mashed up with rapper Lil Jon’s “Put Yo Hood Up.” A sea of hands held up the letter W, representative of the westside. One also can’t forget the moment Flosstradamus played their remix of “Original Don,” the track that thrust the duo into prominence.

With the crowd energy tapering off a bit toward the end of their set, presumably because of fatigue resulting from 45 minutes of nonstop high-energy tunes, Floss quickly woke the crowd back up with another a capella of “Mosh Pit.” Mayhem ensued when it led into the drop of “Prison Riot,” a tune that could have anyone feeling like they could run through a brick wall. The mosh pits flared up with what seemed to be a much higher magnitude of intensity than the first. In fact, one of my shoes got lost in the conundrum and I had to fight through what seemed like hundreds of rabid moshers to attain my lost piece of footwear.

After dropping “Prison Riot” one more time, Flosstradamus exited stage left, as did the crowd of battered and bruised students. Reminiscing on their set, it was quite clear that the UCR crowd was in resounding agreement with Flosstradamus’ call to action according to that trademark, baritone male vocal sample: “Turn the fuck up.”