Despite rain moving the event from its traditional spot on University Yard, this year’s Spring Fling was no disappointment.
Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli was the main attraction Saturday, a step up from last year’s disappointing Lloyd Banks and his gun sound effects. Attendance at the Smith Center was 3,200 throughout the day, Program Board Chair Tyler Coffey, a senior, said.
Opening bands West Indian Girl and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were a pleasant surprise for new listeners. While opening bands at Spring Fling often fall victim to semi-interested students sitting on the ground (some with their backs to the stage), this year’s openers strived to get the crowd more involved.
West Indian Girl, a psychedelic jam band from California, featured an incredibly hot female vocalist (Mariqueen Mandig) with a powerful voice, causing many of the males in the audience (who weren’t with their girlfriends) to move closer to the stage. Similarly, the talented and beautiful 22-year-old Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals sang while playing both her Hammond B3 organ and electric guitar. Midway through her set, everybody in the Smith Center was standing – she literally rocked students out of their seats.
Talib Kweli put on a stellar show, blasting students’ eardrums with bass-heavy beats and a free-style rap about GW. Kweli performed all of his classics, including hits from his last record The Beautiful Struggle as well as a couple of new songs from his upcoming album set to release this summer.
Three lucky students were given the chance to jump up on stage and show off their B-Boy dance skills. Freshman dancer Patrice Langu? said the experience was “crazy.”
“I was a little nervous at first, obviously, but it was mad fun,” she said. “It was like the first time I’ve ever been on stage with a star, so this was pretty big.”
Sophomore Mark Prysler, dubbed “The Great White Mark” by Mr. Kweli himself, said the experience of dancing on stage was “the sickest thing ever.”
Kweli’s DJ, DJ Chaps, said he was surprised how into the act students were. “The crowd was really into it,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting them to be into it like that.”
Potter, whose voice has been compared to sounding like a combination of Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, said in an interview with The Hatchet that she loved the energy from students during her set.
The Vermont native said her band first started playing together at St. Lawrence University. “Our first real gig was like this midnight breakfast on campus in some crappy-ass student union building,” she said. “They gave away free French toast and it was our first big gig. That was how we kind of got that Noctournal vibe going – by playing late at night.”
Robert James, guitarist and vocalist for opening act West Indian Girl, described his band’s live show as “simply incredible” and “mind-blowing.” For their last number, they played a song called “What are you Afraid of?”- ending with an explosive jam by all five of its members. James said that oftentimes their live shows affect some fans in mind-altering ways.
“It just completely puts you in a trance where you don’t know who you are, what you are; you don’t know if you’re a human being, or if you’re a monkey,” he said. “You feel all of this without the drugs. We try to simulate that experience.” n