Several of the Spring Fling artists invited by the Social Planning and Events Committee for 2018 are "throwback artists," a decision which has prompted mixed responses from students.
On April 14, rappers CupcakKe and Sage the Gemini, Pop and R&B singer JoJo, and headliner alt-rock band the All-American Rejects will be gracing the Penn Park stage one year after Tinashe and ZEDD.
Wharton junior Elizabeth Goran and co-chair of SPEC’s concert committee said the group chose to include more artists in the lineup to add to the festival-feel prompted by the move to Penn Park, as well as to include a wider variety of genres in the concert.
“I’ve been hearing for years that people are like ‘we want a throwback show,’ so giving that to them, along with some cool up and comers like CupcakKe, definitely just kind of fell into line,” Goran said.
Goran added that she has received many requests for a change in pace by not inviting a DJ, who have been included in the lineup for the past four years. She added that DJs tend to be more expensive due to production costs, and the decision saved SPEC money and allowed them to book more artists.
Goran cited Zedd, the DJ who headlined Fling last year, as one of the reasons for the change. The DJ required a video wall that cost SPEC an additional half of his asking price.
"By not having a DJ, we don’t have to deal with that cost of production, and also do something different," Goran said. “I think it’s definitely a big change, but it’s also one that I’ve been hearing people asking for."
The concert will run from 7:30 to 11 p.m., a 30-minute increase from last year to account for the additional acts. All artists will perform on the same stage on Dunning-Cohen field where Zedd and Tinashe performed last year. CupcakKe’s set will last for 30 minutes, Sage the Gemini and JoJo for 45 minutes, and the All-American Rejects for an hour. Daytime fling acts will perform on a smaller stage in South field.
Goran said that preparations for the concert were more complex this year, as the committee had to approve four artists’ contracts and organize four sound checks within a certain time.
“I think it’s going to be really fun for everyone because like every single act is doing a live show,” Goran said. “It’s not just someone standing behind a table DJ-ing, which is fine and still lots of fun, but especially with the All-American Rejects, they’re going to be playing their own instruments and rocking out.”
However, this year’s diverse lineup has received mixed reviews from the student body, many noting that the four different artists don't seem to fit together.
Some students, like College freshman Brennan Rose, say they feel that the diverse lineup does not align with his interests.
“I feel [the concert] is superfluous," Rose said. "I’d rather enjoy the content of one or two artists rather than be confused by four artists that hail from completely different genres."
“It seems to be a conglomerate of throwbacks and up and coming artists designed to appeal to anyone and yet appeals to very few people,” College junior Jamie McCann said. “I would rather have had them have book one or two artists that got most people excited than book four artists that make up a set that just confuses the entire student body.”
McCann said she does not plan on attending, and Rose, whose band is also performing at Fling during the day, said he is unsure.
“It’s my first year, so I guess I should go to experience it,” Rose said. "It just feels messed up."
Though College sophomore Rebecca Suh says she also feels unsure about the lineup, she said she does not want to write off the concert just yet and is planning to attend.
“I am really into throwbacks, and I am excited for the All-American Rejects and Jojo," Suh said. "I hope in the next couple of years we get some more Chance the Rapper-types of performances."
Other students, like College freshman Declan Schoen, say they are excited by the variety of performers.
"All-American Rejects is a really nice throwback, taking me back to when I was in middle school, and CupcakKe just seems like a wild time, even if it’s not the music I generally listen to," Schoen said. "It just seems like it will be fun and just you know, a good time to let loose."
Goran said that SPEC receives criticism each year regardless of the lineup, and thinks that some people have unrealistic expectations about the kinds of artists the group can afford to book.
“Our budget isn’t disclosed and artist asking prices typically aren’t exposed, so I think there’s a lot of confusion around the realistic artists we’re able to book versus people who are not even just out of our budget, but 10 or 15 times out,” Goran said. “So it’s hard to balance everyone’s interests but also make the best show for everyone.”
Regardless, Goran said she is optimistic.
“I know a lot of people are disappointed," Goran said. "But I think if they give the show a chance they’re going to have a great time.”