Thousands of students took time out of moving into their rooms and flocked to sold-out events this weekend as part of a revamped, larger Welcome Week, which included a carnival on the Quad and performances by comedian Lewis Black and singer John Mayer.
Mayer attracted the largest audience of the Labor Day weekend, strumming his guitar and singing his most recent songs for a sold-out Smith Center crowd Monday night.
More than 2,000 students attended the two-hour concert, which included an opening performance by Dallas band Graham Colton. Many female students sang along to songs many said they first heard as MP3s.
The first students started lining up outside the Smith Center at about 2 p.m., six hours before the doors opened to the concert.
The bleachers reverberated from the sound of Mayer’s rock music and lighting matched the tone of the music. About 500 students stood on the Smith Center floor in front of his stage, some waving their hands with the music. At least three students held signs about 20 feet away from Mayer, one reading, “I love John Mayer.”
Mayer, 24, performed songs from his most recent album “Room for Squares,” including hit songs “My Stupid Mouth,” “No Such Thing” and
“Your Body is a Wonderland,” as well as music from his rookie album.
While some isolated groups of students stood and danced to the music, many students were yawning and said they were somewhat bored by the performance.
“I have never seen anyone walk out of a performance . and I have been to a lot of shows,” said freshman Drew Putzel, who was among hundreds of students who exited the concert with two or three songs to go.
Junior Whitney Stern said she was hoping to beat the crowd by leaving early but said she enjoyed the concert.
Freshman Laura Brigham, who stood with two of her friends during most of the performance, said she was disappointed by the lack of audience interest.
“I think everyone should be standing up and dancing,” Brigham said. “Lewis Black got more reaction than (Mayer).”
Comedian and political commentator Lewis Black drew a smaller but rowdier audience of students at his Saturday Smith Center performance.
Black, known for his frank and derisive brand of social commentary, took shots at political figures and celebrities like President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Pained facial expressions, sharp yells and cursing characterized Black’s performance. Students were kept laughing by diatribes about subjects ranging from criticism of the government to the inherent evil of Starbucks.
Black’s criticism centered on the past presidential election and a lack of interesting candidates in national elections.
“It was so boring I started lactating,” Black said. “I found out quick that there’s not much use for male milk.”
Black gained comic notoriety as part of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.” His forum, the appropriately named “Back in Black,” offers scathing bitter commentary on world events with a comic twist. Banking on the success of that spot, Black has in recent years developed a stand up career, touring nationwide.
GW Freshman Meryl Herald said that Black’s appeal is his knowledgeable attacks on the federal government.
“He’s very event-oriented, which I think is really appropriate for where we are,” she said.
Laura Taddeucci, director of the Student Activities Center, which sponsored the weekend along with Program Board, said GW booked Black because he offered a diverse brand of humor.
“We usually try to find comedians who are up and coming. We wanted someone with some notoriety, who was also intelligent,” Taddeucci said.
Taddeucci said SAC is currently considering comedian Jimmy Fallon for a January performance.
The school is also looking to bring the Counting Crows to GW in October, Marvin Center Executive Director Peter Konwerski said. The band was scheduled to perform at GW last fall but canceled the show because of a scheduling conflict.
SAC event coordinator Sam Siegel called the weekend a huge success, citing first-ever activities such as the Labor Day ClamBake and the freshmen scavenger hunt.
A carnival with rides, music and food on the Quad Friday night attracted more than 3,000 students.
The Wild on Labor Day event at Mount Vernon Monday attracted many students as well. The clambake offered free food and entertainment to students all day long.