Programming Board, the student service and organizing body of events such as SpringFest and Fall Fest, announced New York rapper Joey Bada$$ as SpringFest’s headlining artist via its social media March 1. According to the announcement, fellow Pro Era signee CJ Fly and a student DJ will also play at SpringFest April 6 in the Greek Bowl. Programming Board sent out a poll through Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement Ella Turene Nov. 27 in order to receive input and be transparent about the selection process, according to Programming Board Manager Elijah Plvan-Franke (senior).
“Traditionally, [Programming Board] has kept the artist a secret, building hype around the annual concert,” members of Programming Board wrote in a letter to the editor in The Occidental Nov. 13, 2018. “However, due to concerns from the student body, shifts in the budget and a desire to provide Oxy students with an exciting artist, PB wants to include the student community in choosing the 2019 SpringFest artist.”
Students were asked to rank their first, second and third choice between Joey Bada$$, JID, Aminé, DRAM, Lizzo and Smino. According to Plvan-Franke, Aminé was the top choice among students, but was out of Programming Board’s budget, so they opted for the second choice, Joey Bada$$. Joey Bada$$ was a strong choice because he fit the college’s culture, Plvan-Franke said.
“I think Occidental is unique and a place where people value music here in a lot of different ways,” Plvan-Franke said. “Joey Bada$$ in one way brings this sort of unique brand of hip hop coming from New York and everything where he almost has an old school hip hop feel today, but he talks about a lot of current issues and a lot of very socially conscious topics.”
According to Programming Board Event Coordinator Rhea Bhatia, artists such as Chance the Rapper, Kehlani and T-Pain have previously headlined SpringFest, with T-Pain bringing over 1,700 attendees to the 2015 event. R&B artist Ravyn Lenae headlined 2018 SpringFest following Washington, D.C. rapper GoldLink’s cancellation citing a family emergency, though the rapper was actually at a Coachella party. According to Bhatia, though GoldLink’s falling through was out of Programming Board’s control, the student service wants to make this year‘s event as memorable as possible in light of last year’s cancellation.
“I think we’ve put the most effort into this show to make up for last year, even though it was out of our control,” Bhatia said. “We’re really, really doing everything we can and really pushing the budget in ways that we never have before to bring this concert to life.”
According to Bhatia, Programming Board has taken steps by working with their agent, who negotiates with artists’ agents on contracts for the school, to prevent a similar cancellation from taking place.
“We have looked more in-depth into the history of the professionality of the artist, and when you look into GoldLink’s history, we are not the only ones he has done this to,” Bhatia said. “The agent has knowledge of that now and also keeps that in mind when recommending GoldLink to other schools, he just avoids [recommending him]. But with Joey Bada$$, even with working with his team, getting contracts and everything, he’s been very professional and very responsive. And so even the agent has assured us that this is not going to happen again.”
While 2018 SpringFest was held in Rush Gym, this year’s event will take place in the Greek Bowl, according to Programming Board Event Coordinator Kevyn Kovesdy (junior). Kovesdy said the Greek Bowl offers a much more authentic concert-going experience.
“I think the atmosphere, just like I remember for T-Pain, felt so different,” Kovesdy said. “I feel like maybe because it’s a wider space and it’s an open area and I think kind of the staging it feels more like you’re at an actual concert, rather than you’re cramped up a little bit in the gym. So I feel like the atmosphere is more vibrant, more free.”
Rapper CJ Fly will open for Joey Bada$$. According to Event Coordinator Zach Solomon (senior), Joey Bada$$ requested that CJ Fly open for him as part of the contract.
“A lot of times an artist has an opener that they want,” Solomon said. “So in that case, they tell us who they want, and other times we consider a bunch of different factors trying to have something that’s not exactly the same style so that people who are less interested in the main artist can be interested in hearing the opener play.”
The SpringFest pre-show will be held in the quad, where music will be provided by KOXY, according Station Manager Mariana Martinez (senior). Bhatia said there will be carnival activities such as ping pong, cornhole and a blow up obstacle course, as well as a beer garden, dance performance and food from Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria. According to Bhatia, Programming Board did not organize a food truck in order to save money for the headliner.
“I’m stressed because I know the bigger the headliner, the more work we’re going to have,” Bhatia said. “But I’m excited. I’m so excited. I know people are so pumped for this. And they’re going to be showing up. It just means that we have more people to take care of at the event, but that’s what we’re doing. And that’s what we like to do.”