This year’s Spring Splash had the misfortune of occurring during California’s uglier days. Sixty-degree weather cooled many a concertgoer hoping for a rager under the sun, with the wind doubling down on the less-than-fortunate circumstances. Like always, the lineup is sure to disappoint many interested in seeing their favorite artist; but for the most part, the lineup was a treat to those just out to party regardless of who was providing the tunes.
Aside from the music, ASPB’s mini-fest had a number of attractions, including a photobooth with complimentary prints, airbrush tattoos, rock climbing, carnival games and more. Food trucks typical to UC Riverside were present, as were others including the popular California Pizza Kitchen truck to feed the hungry crowd. Like the lineup, another consistent phenomena is the classic case of early afternoon debauchery, pregaming to the point of projectile vomiting on the side of the street long before the night sky comes about. Good times!
Overall, the event went smooth for the singularly driven out for a party, but ended up disappointing everyone else earnestly hoping to catch more than a single talented act. It was a spectacle, an experience that will likely have little effect on next year’s turnout as a result of its mixed impact.
Unfortunately for the early pregamers, Spring Splash had a slow beginning, with SNBRN failing to elicit the level of energy needed for a fist-pumping good time or even just a single jump. Despite a large influx of people attending Spring Splash rushing in around 4:30 p.m., most likely to guarantee a spot to catch GoldLink, not much attention was endowed to the American DJ formally known as Kevin Andrew Chapman. Perhaps the freshly entering concert-goers were turned off by the lack of movement in the crowd or those already in the crowd didn’t feel enough density to gather the much-needed excitement.
No matter what came first, SNBRN was simply not able to provide an appealing performance — mostly due to the lack of solid song choices and exacerbated by a non-existent stage presence. His set resembled a Forever 21 playlist with tracks that would be better suited for dressing room catwalking than a university music concert, such as the Pet Shop Boyz-sounding “New Order” (produced in partnership with Shaun Frank and Dr. Fresch). It’s not like the music itself was bad — some could have been head-bobbing in a dressing room, like “Gangsta Walk” feat. Nate Dogg and SNBRN’s top hit “Raindrops” feat. Kerli; it just wasn’t suited for the occasion. Sadly, the set dragged on with a whimper as the crowd remained stagnant and bare.
GoldLink stood out among the entirety of the Spring Splash lineup simply for his bread-and-butter type rapper persona. A bunch of DJs, a Canadian R&B singer and then a straight-up rapper whose stylistic influences range across the culture from ‘90s boom-bap artists like Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics to contemporary electronic-leaning showmen like Kaytranada and even Madlib. I knew heading in that GoldLink was one to look out for, with his word-of-mouth artistry selling me on to the idea of catching something fresh among artists I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt would leave no impression. In an act of confirmation, he put on a great set carried heavily by his energetic stage presence and a genuine conviction to see the crowd go buckwild.
Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” oddly found itself in the middle of the rapper’s set to which the audience responded with heaps of pushing and shoving, the closest the Saturday afternoon got to veering away from the EDM-filled sets. The latter half of his set was characterized by a series of personal playlist choices — an endearing spectacle that gave the crowd a sense of his musical palette yet still maintaining his own adrenaline-fueled personality. While the names of his songs escape a new fan such as myself, he’s got an undeniable skill as a wordsmith, knowing how to rap over certain beats and how to direct his energy into his flow. GoldLink was definitely the most enjoyable artist of the night, which was ironic considering that those in attendance only truly gave into the artist-crowd dynamic when overcranked basses shook their bodies or when a catchy hook magnetically drew their hands up. Oh well, I suppose it’s a sign of the vibe Spring Splash is all about.
Of all the names billed to Spring Splash, Lanez — the Canadian R&B singer known equally for his hit songs “LUV” and “Say It,” as well as his petty beef with Drake — was by far the biggest. His inclusion warranted a spot as the closing performance, but for whatever reason he was slated to be the second-to-last one up. In any case, it is unfortunate that the artist failed to set new grounds for campus performers, or really leave any lasting impact on those who saw him.
In fact, the highlight of the set was easily the final 15 minutes wherein Lanez, out of boredom or desire to be lifted up to support his (probably) inflated ego, decided to perform a pseudo-crowd surf atop the entire lawn. Seeing Lanez’s attempt at traversing the lawn’s perimeter with nothing but the support of the audience was something like watching a newborn deer attempting to walk: It’s endearing, and you really hope he can successfully stand up for longer than a few seconds and carry with him the swagger everyone would imagine a big-name rapper to have, but the reality is much more flimsy. If it’s any consolation, he exited the area by simply walking through the crowd. He was sweaty, shorter than expected, a fitting closure to a disappointing set.
You know, I would be a fool to gloss over how alive Spring Splash was by the end of the night. It would be a foolish play on my behalf to deny the fact that Jauz’s set sparked a flame in the hearts of the thousand-plus people in attendance and had more life than any time prior to his performance. There’s a time and place for everything, including Jauz’s music, and Spring Splash was definitely the perfect setting for his type of music. I’m not going to deny that, but I am also not going to sugarcoat anything and act like the set was anything more than a banal display of mindless, boring, dilapidated electronic music with no place in the contemporary music scene. Save, of course, for events like this and anywhere else where 90 percent of the crowd fucks with Diplo.
Opinions, opinions, opinions, of course. But people really listen to this stuff? Damn, and I thought I was goofy for jamming out to Cher’s “Believe” and Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone” (actually, no, I shamelessly love those songs and predict I will until I die). It’s hard not to maintain such an oppositional stance to this kind of music when all the best songs are butchered and crammed into some played out dubstep-EDM-house type mix and featuring titanic levels of bass. Is the attention span of the average drunk-by-5 p.m. college student really so short that a 30-second soundbite of Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” is the perfect way to segue into a wobbling assault on the ears? You ever think, “Hey, want to hear Red Hot Chili Peppers and Passion Pit, only worse?” Me neither.
Yeah I get it, I sound like a grandpa, a misanthropic fun-sucker who doesn’t get it, but I just want to catch some good tunes. That’s it. I don’t personally have beef with the dude, nor do I with the people who like this stuff. I just really think this shit’s been played out for years and can’t help but wince when I see it.
– Julian Medranda & Jasmine Yamanaka, Senior Staff