By Alana Dore, deputy inside editor

Students swarmed Matthews Arena on Saturday for the annual Springfest concert headlined by “Talk Dirty” singer Jason Derulo with electric-heavy opening bands Awolnation and The Knocks.

The night opened with The Knocks, an electronic music duo comprised of Ben Ruttner “B-Roc” and James Patterson “JPatt.” The band’s most popular songs of the night included “Brightside,” “The Feeling” and the final song  “Dancing with the DJ.” The high-energy duo got people on their feet.

“This year was a difficult one [for planning] because it was the same weekend as Coachella, a festival that is booked a year in advance,” Springfest Concert Chair senior music industry major Jenna Ross said. “A lot of the artists we would have gone after were playing or attending, so that cut out a lot of potential artists. Jason Derulo and Awolnation were both high on the survey, and the students voted that pop was the genre they were most interested in seeing at the concert. We felt that the lineup would be a high-energy one with multiple genres that the students would have a great time singing along to.”

Although the students voted for pop music, The Knocks and Awolnation are electronic and rock respectively, while Derulo’s music has fallen into pop, R&B and hip-hop categories for awards.

Following The Knocks, Awolnation, most famous for its 2011 hit “Sail,” took the stage. The lead singer, Aaron Bruno, also known as the Awol in Awolnation, bounced around the stage performing alternative dance moves.The rock band hit its stride with a dynamic performance of “Kill Your Heroes,” which got many of the audience members singing along. For the softer, slower anthem “All I Need,” the crowd swayed from side to side with their arms around each other. Without prompting, audience members raised their lit phones in the air reminiscent of that old and magical lighter practice. Awolnation wrapped up its set as everyone expected, with its chart-topper “Sail.”

“I wasn’t a huge fan of Awolnation. Other than ‘Sail,’ the rest of their songs were pretty headbangy,” sophomore health science major Emily Polhemus said.

Before Derulo took the stage, DJ Papo, also known as the “DJ with the green mohawk,” came out to warm up the crowd. He played several remixes, but Tove Lo’s “Habits” and Galantis’s “Runaway (U & I)” garnered the most excitement from the crowd.

He sang all of his hits including “In My Head,” “Ridin’ Solo,” “Whatcha Say” and “Trumpets.” He also got the crowd dancing and jumping about with hyperactive dancers who interacted with the audience throughout the night. Each got a chance to show off their moves individually.

“People didn’t seem too pleased with the decision to have Jason Derulo, so I wasn’t expecting it to be as fun as it was,” sophomore mechanical engineering major John Steinmetz said. “I enjoyed it a lot. He is a good entertainer, and he knew to do all of his big hit songs to get the crowd going.”

At one point, a dancer went into the crowd and pulled three girls onstage for a twerking competition. The audience voted for the best twerker and afterward the three girls got to meet Derulo and his crew.

Derulo pleased the audience with his other hits “Wiggle” and “Talk Dirty to Me,” while calling out to all the single ladies for applause. He and his dancers also removed their shirts, sometimes aggressively, which was met with raucous approval from the majority of the audience. Derulo closed his set with a new song which the crowd was excited to hear.

The concert wrapped up a week of events sponsored by the Council on University Programs (CUP). This year’s Springfest theme was NUstalgia (‘90s throwback), boasting CUP-hosted events, including a moderated Q&A with Josh Peck (“Drake and Josh”) and stand-up comedy with Retta (“Parks and Recreation”).

“The concert and the Springfest week events are separate,” CUP President and senior music industry major Elie Lamazerolles said. “The theme of the week does not correlate with the concert acts – past Springfest week themes include NU.F.O (Space), NUpocolypse, The Husky Games (Olympics) – so we never attempt to coordinate them.”

Although some may question the lack of connection between theme and performers, it does not discourage student traffic to CUP-sponsored events throughout the week. Many students were drawn to the range of events CUP offered as part of Springfest.

“I think CUP did a really great job promoting Springfest this year,” Polhemus said. “Not just the concert on Saturday, but pretty much each event during the week was well-advertised, on Facebook especially. I was definitely more involved with the activities this year.”

With high attendance at many of the Springfest events throughout the week, CUP is looking forward to developing programs for next year’s celebration. This Springfest concert was one of the few events that week that did not sell-out.

“We manage Springfest the same way every year, and we always receive a positive response from the students who attend the concert,” Ross said. “This year was no different, and we expect similar feedback for next year’s event. We take the survey very seriously – we strive to give the students what they want.”


Photo by Brian Bae