The Roots attracts record PB crowd

Light rain gave way to sunshine in time for The Roots to take the stage during Saturday’s third-annual Spring Fling, where about 5,000 people enjoyed free food, games and other musical acts on the Quad.

The Program Board lined up opening acts RAI Nation, GW band Waterstreet and GW performer Adam Richman for Saturday’s event. Free palm readings, massages, an inflatable jousting ring, pretend sumo wrestling and giveaways also entertained students.

At 2 p.m., rain forced organizers to dismantle the inflatable attractions until the rain stopped at 3:30 p.m.

The Roots drew the largest attendance at a single Program Board event with 5,000 people, PB Executive Chair Seth Weinert said.

“After the success of this event our next challenge will be to continue growing bigger and better,” Weinert said.

Excited students welcomed The Roots to the stage with cheers.

“It was pretty cool, the audience was really receptive,” said Rice R.A.W., a lead vocalist for The Roots. “I love college shows. It’s fun playing for a bunch of kids who want to let off some steam because it gets really rowdy, and the rowdier the better.”

Roots Guitarist Leonard Hubbard said he enjoyed being back in the D.C. area and performing at GW.

“We’ve been playing D.C. since the group first started, so we have core fans at this school and in the whole area,” he said.

The Roots played for about an hour before returning for an encore performance.

During the set, female R&B singer Jaguar joined the band.

“This was my first time at GW, but I had a ball,” Jaguar said. “I thought everything went wonderfully and I had a great time with everyone.”

Senior Andy Diamond said the band had a good stage presence.

“They are a good live act,” he said. “They have a lot of energy and really know how to work the audience.”

Roots member Rahzel did not perform because he is not currently with the tour.

Waterstreet and Adam Richman won the chance to play at Spring Fling at the Program Board’s Battle of the Bands two weeks ago.

Waterstreet drummer T.J. Brunner said he was glad PB let students play on the same stage as big-name groups.

“I’m in a regular band and I just opened for The Roots,” he said. “It’s surreal.”

Waterstreet has played at all three Spring Flings, and guitarist Bobby Nashawaty said this year’s was the best.

“This is the first time we’ve had a big crowd,” he said. “We’ve really tried to build the presence of music on campus and I think we’ve done a great job.”

PB spent about $40,000 on Spring Fling, putting the event under budget, Weinert said. September’s Fall Fest featuring Cypress Hill cost about $60,000, according to the Program Board Web site.

Weinert said he could not comment on how much PB paid The Roots, because PB signed a closed contract. PB spent $7,000 in food and about $7,000 for games, he said, leaving about $46,000 for music.

PB earns money at events such as Spring Fling by using corporate sponsors, which pay to set up tables to advertise their products, Weinert said. Corporations that give away goods at the events do not pay anything, Weinert said. Weinert said contracts with vendors are also confidential, even though student fees fund PB.

Sophomore Lauren Tripodi said she was excited about this year’s Spring Fling after going to last year’s event.

“My friends did the sumo wrestling, and that was fun to watch,” she said. “It’s nice when everyone hangs out together, especially since it’s spring time.”

Saturday’s warm-weather event provided a break for students preparing for finals week.

“I was on my way to study, but then I got sidetracked here,” junior Nicole Fox said, while she waited in line for a palm reading. “It’s good that there is events like this because it brings everyone together.”

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