By Javier Burdette
Let’s be real. If UCI’s spring concert was still going by the name Reggaefest, last Friday’s crowd would have been substantially smaller. While everybody and their grandmother claims to be a Bob Marley fan, the truth is the twangy island vibes of reggae would be more at home at UC Santa Cruz.
Luckily, 2016 marks the third year of Reggaefest’s reincarnation of the Summerlands Music Festival. ASUCI is well aware of the necessity of the transition, their website stating, “Summerlands was created in 2014 to allow different genres of music to be presented to the student body.”
A large chunk of Aldrich Park was sectioned off by a chainlink-and-black canvas fence for the festival, with a monstrous line wrapped around its northern edge. Concertgoers filed in and roamed around the green, checking out a handful of booths. Rockstar, Inc. and Dave & Buster’s were there in full force, as well as several vendors offering up your standard festival fare.
Prior to the main acts, some smaller performers hit the stage.
First up was JoYellow, a UCI-based rapper who first graced the ASUCI stage at Soulstice. As JoYellow himself pointed out, his first song was a bit rusty. He was clearly reading his lyrics off his phone, which is what one in the rap game might call a no-no. Fortunately, things picked up by the third track, and he finished strong. Though the performance was solid, it was not particularly outstanding, but he certainly has potential.
Up next were The Grinns, an act that simply oozed SoCal style. Long hair, pastel clothing, catchy guitar riffs and the lead singer’s bombastic energy, coupled with a “surfer dude” vocal delivery, made for a relaxed, head-bobbing vibe.
In between acts, a student DJ, who had a small group of bros calling out the name “DJ Fook,” entertained the crowd with more danceable numbers. It wasn’t until the end of the night that the crowd would get as turnt as they did when he dropped current favorites like Desiigner’s “Panda.”
R&B singer and proud Filipino Jeff Bernat was the first of the listed acts. Bernat appeared to be fairly well-known to the crowd, but his greater claim to fame lies in Asia. His style is smooth and easy to listen to. Too easy. It had a lulling quality that would have been more appropriate for a venue with chairs. He did, however, ask the crowd to let him know, “Where the party at?” So there’s that.
Following Bernat was a performance by Us the Duo, an headliner made up of husband-and-wife Michael and Carissa Alvarado. The pair gained fame on Vine, says attendee Aztly Coss, who has been following them since she heard one of their covers.
“They’re really cute” she says, a sentiment shared by most of the crowd based on all the sighs and “awws” the artists were met with. The music was upbeat and very pop. They closed with a medley that contained everything from “Hotline Bling” to “Uptown Funk,” the kind of thing you’d see on their YouTube channel.
Last up was SoMo, another R&B act whose song “Ride” is pushing 35 million views on YouTube at the moment. The atmosphere during SoMo’s set was pure sex, because that’s pretty much all he sings about. Throughout the night the singer underwent several wardrobe changes, the last of which didn’t
even include a shirt, and the crowd loved it. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who attended with their significant other. Yeah, he looks good with his shirt off, but what you have together means so much more than that! Hang in there.
The Summerlands Music Festival is a great way to spend a Friday evening, and it’s the kind of event that just goes to show that it is very possible to find entertainment in Irvine.