On Monday, January 16th the Associated Student Programming Board (ASPB) released a promotional video for their annual “Winter SOULstice” quarterly concert. Mixed reactions resulted: there were critical comments on the lineup, mixed with excitement for the concert. All of these flooded the ASPB Instagram.
Leading up to the concert, students had no complaints with the wristband distribution since ASPB introduced a multi-day wristband pickup early last year.
Friday, January 27th arrived with students arriving in hopes of receiving “Winter SOULstice” merchandise. In typical ASPB concert tradition, Highlanders ran straight for the sponsored drinks and the hoodies instead of the main stage. With multiple canceled food vendors, Suja Juice and Pressed Juice were one of the few options for students to indulge in.
A few moments after, Noah Guy arrived on the stage. With a slow and somber start, Noah Guy quickly turned the vibe around by interacting with the crowd. At some point, the performance turned into an interview.
Noah Guy asked the students, “Y’all like Frank Ocean?” and “Y’all got a meal swipe for me?”
As a performer, Noah Guy brings great energy with a lively band and engagement with the audience. However, his good looks do not save him from his strained and scratchy voice with attempts to reach a higher register. With songs such as “2 DOGS 1 LEASH” and “STOP BANGIN’ MY LINE,” Noah Guy did an alright job as an opener to warm the crowd up.
Promptly at 8 o’clock, Miami native, Jenevieve walked up on stage with charm and sophistication. With a few initial sound issues, her sweet voice stole the stage. Jenevieve has an infectious vibrance in her dancing and sleek style. She performed to a unique discography ranging from both soul and dance beats. Toward the beginning of her performance, she was a bit mumbly and hard to understand. She revived herself through her funkier tracks like “2NLuv.” The 27-minute set made everyone in the crowd want more.
Ten minutes later, ASPB announced RealestK, yet in an uncoordinated fashion with two different pronunciations. The 18-year-old singer walked on stage with a bulletproof vest, which is uncannily similar to R&B singer The Weeknd’s fashion staple. RealestK is clearly not comfortable with performing. His slow jams don’t have danceability, leaving his stage presence minimal. At times, the performer would lip-sync. RealestK is not a terrible singer, he simply lacks the dedication to put on a stunning performance.
His set was designed for those with broken hearts, which was a dramatic change from Jenevieve’s “don’t need nobody else” attitude. The concert would have had a better flow in pace to switch his set time with Jenevieve.
After a brief pause for medical attention to a student in the crowd, who was treated within moments, RealestK had to cut a song short and left shortly after.
Within 15 minutes, the crowd grew immensely for Odie’s set at 9:14 pm. With a haunting introduction, Odie walked onto the stage with immense energy. He brought the soul to “Winter SOULstice.” Songs from his 2018 album, “Analogue” composed most of his setlist. Odie appeared to enjoy himself with the crowd, asking the students to dance, wave their hands and even throw their middle fingers in the air. Odie even revealed he was a previous UC student, once attending UC San Diego, which was followed by a wave of boos. With a connection to the audience, Odie ended the night with a pleasant ending.
In overview, this year’s “Winter SOULstice” was disappointingly mediocre. Activities were left to a minimum and students who were expecting food were left with the options of water and wellness shots.
The bright lights from Lot 19 were a distraction and made the setting look dingy. Even Odie attempted to create a vibe by requesting to turn off the house lights but was left with the intense white parking lot lights gleaming off of him.
Performances were solid, but lacking in their own areas. Performers, like RealestK, were clearly there to pick up their check and leave, creating an unfavorable feeling.
Verdict: Considering how much ASPB spends on events like these, the programming board may want to take an evaluation from the subpar delivery of this year’s Winter SOULstice.