By Emily Santiago-Molina
UCI students have finally returned for the upcoming school year and ASUCI has a whole week of welcoming planned. While Sunday and Monday got everything started with late nights and hypnotism, come Tuesday, it was time to face the music.
Aldrich Park After Dark, coined as APAD by ASUCI members, filled Tuesday night with the sounds of students commemorating the end of summer. Musicians and DJs filled the line up, ready to perform and entertain all night long. DJs Samii, Volldrauf, and Caleeb opened up the show as all the students prepared for the night of fun before classes resume.They also played in between the sets, keeping the growing crowd entertained and excited.
To officially begin, with dyed hair and denim style, the all-girl band Aerial View filled the park’s atmosphere with their indie rock as people started to arrive. Attendees either walked straight up to the stage to secure a spot for the rest of the night, or felt comfortable sitting on the grass further out. Christmas lights stretched across the back of the field, along with a few food tents ready to serve the hungry students.
Next up came the Grinns, a local OC rock band who lifted the mood, energizing and revitalizing the atmosphere. As they introduced each song, they encouraged everyone to get up and move to their music. Playing originals songs such as “San Francisco” and putting their own spin on radio hits while raising the enthusiasm of the crowd. “We’re happy to be here,” shouted the lead singer Joey Koch, while continually calling the fall quarter “August semester” stirring laughter all around. Even though the light blue sky reigned on, the sun had begun to set as the Grinns finished performing “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, ending their set with a classic for everyone to sing along to.
The music of the night shifted genres as DJ Graves took the stage, ready to bring the night to a different high. With his black hoodie on hands at the ready, Graves played an EDM set filled with heavy beats to jump to, and drops that made the crowd go crazy. He mesmerized the crowd with his catchy tunes, creating a memorable performance.
As the night sky faded to black, one-hit YouTube rapper Nebu Kiniza continued to pump up the attendees with his different songs but needed to work in order match the crowd’s liveliness from before. The amount of people surrounding the stage had grown immensely since the beginning of the event, so Kiniza was able to keep the exuberant vibe going. When his main song “Gassed Up” began to play, the students’ energy was activated as they sang and danced along to a beat they finally recognized. Even with speedy, basic lyrics put to a solid everyday beat, “YEAH YEAHs” ensued from the crowded park, now continually occupied with waving hands and jumping feet. The end of Kiniza’s set marked the night’s inevitable end but signaled the long awaited coming of the last act.
Lastly, the night’s most anticipated headliner, DJ Gryffin, rocked the park to its core. He took the stage walking towards the white piano, starting the end of the evening with a soft instrumental intro. Whether playing the electric guitar or jamming behind his mixing table, Gryffin played the night away, keeping the crowd dancing and hyped, filling even the people standing in the back with beats to enjoy. Songs from Ed Sheeran and The Killers were featured, including many of his own mixes which fans recognized and enjoyed. With all hands up, Gryffin’s tracks kept young bodies moving and the night alive until the very end.
This year’s free concert succeeded in good music and a large turnout, as multiple students walked away into the night, enlivened and still thriving with the night’s energy. Thank you ASUCI for giving the campus a small taste of the festivals from the summer we are bidding farewell to as we brace ourselves for the academic year.