A warm yet breezy Saturday afternoon welcomed UC Riverside’s annual Spring Splash concert. The first sights after the entrance were a few pieces of innovative and eco-friendly art made from disposable and recyclable materials. A life-size bear stood covered in what seemed like strips of receipts and plastic bags. A few steps past that led to many different graffiti artists in action, spraying colorful images upon the large wooden boards set up around campus. The art was plentiful and diverse; some were inspired by hip-hop elements while others were more nature-based. Next to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf were the cherished food trucks providing concertgoers with snacks and refreshments. Choices included everything from Korean barbeque to crepes. Lined up on the sides of the field were student organizations and clubs offering snacks and refreshments as well. Excited students walked around with pearl milk tea, hot dogs, and free frisbees and sunglasses courtesy of ASPB.
Before attending the actual concert, spectators could enjoy the giant Ferris wheel set up outside Rivera Library, or even become works of art themselves by the hands of skilled body painters. When the concert began at 2 p.m., people were already flocking to the stage, laughing, and dancing under the hot April sun.
Los Angeles band Capital Cities kicked off the concert with surprising style and energy. A band composed of fun, eccentric men and a lead singer with a full beard stood before students with a laid-back confidence that gained the audience’s trust. Their music was a heavenly combination of retro sounds reminiscent of The Beatles, feel-good jazz and even a little dub step. Matthew Schnarr, a third-year Creative Writing student described Capital Cities’ sound as “pop music that’s ironic.” He explained by accounting for their pop style with their beat structure, which was uncomplex and overdone by many other musicians. They were ironic, however, because members of the band wore dress shoes clashed with casual polo shirts; they were not hipsters but nevertheless “influenced by the hipster direction taken by popular culture”. Smoke filled the air as eyes closed and bodies swayed to the band’s music. As they left, grateful clapping rewarded their performance, and frenzied shouting began to accumulate for the next guest.
The second guest, Musiq Soulchild, strutted on stage in aviators, a slick vest over a white shirt, and a confidence that was all his own. The moment he opened his mouth to showcase amazing vocals that were no less promising than the ones in his recorded work, the crowd was ecstatic. Voices roared back from the audience when many fans began singing along to his hit songs. Musiq’s flexibility and creativity with his voice included travelling along and hitting impressive points in falsetto and even the mastery of rap without the need for any auto tune or special effects. His face twisted into sincere expressions of raw emotion as his music permeated throughout the field, creating a soothing and unifying vibe.
Following Musiq Soulchild’s unforgettable performance, the third and final artist, Kendrick Lamar, exploded onto the stage, adorned in yellow gold accessories, rocking 1920s circle glasses, a t-shirt and army pants. Lamar was the only artist who did not use the aid of a live band; one DJ stood alone behind Lamar at his every cue, beck and call. The audience was definitely the most collectively excited for Lamar judging by the tighter spaces dwindling in between strangers, the adrenalized jumping and the spontaneous shouting. Raunchy lyrics and topics appropriately invigorated UC Riverside’s college audience. After the artist’s uttering of just a few words, audience members were able to finish every line of every song with thunderous accuracy. Lamar was also the most interactive artist of the concert. He stopped abruptly in the middle of one of his songs just to thoroughly compliment an attractive girl in the crowd. He also sat down on stage during his set and explained how related to “being at the bottom.” He gave a short motivational speech before continuing to rap, sitting casually on the floor of the stage, closer than ever to his ecstatic fans. With a light-hearted sense of humor and occasional charming smirks and chuckles, Lamar captured and stimulated the audience’s energy easily. Before finishing his performance, he looked out into the faces of UC Riverside’s students and said, “no matter what ethnicity, we’re all family here tonight”.
Jordan Bradley, a third-year biochemistry student, saw the concert as “a good time” even though she was unfamiliar with the artists performing at Spring Splash. “It was easy to catch on to the lyrics. It gets a little annoying when fans start to shove but the artists always solved problems once they started singing.” Brandon Luu, a second-year biology student, faithfully sang along and grooved enthusiastically to both Musiq Soulchild and Kendrick Lamar’s performances. He expressed extreme gratitude and surprise at Musiq’s unexpected rap and Lamar’s combination of old material from his first mixtape and current tracks. A self-proclaimed true rap and R&B fan and an avid follower of music blogs, Luu said, “I did not expect UCR to get Kendrick Lamar.” Overall, the Spring Splash music concert was a successful and fun unification of UC Riverside’s students or, at least, a momentary break from studying for midterms.