I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think Shocktoberfest would be something I’d enjoy. I never bothered to try it out in years past because the music wasn’t something I listened to regularly, and, with my experience at some past UCI concerts and festivals, I didn’t have high hopes. I’ll also be the first to admit that I was dead wrong.
Shocktoberfest got off to a rocky start when tickets were sold before the lineup was even announced. While I don’t like the idea of trying to sell essentially a surprise concert, once the lineup was finally announced (the week of the concert) people were pleased. It was also announced that Lyft would provide a Shocktoberfest discount to ensure students could arrive and leave from the event safely.
As per tradition, the night began with the dunk and shooting contest, Midnight Magic, put on by UCI Athletics to kick off the beginning of the men’s and women’s basketball season. Junior forward Jonathan Galloway, 2017 Big West Defensive Player of the year, won the dunk contest with an off-the-backboard double clutch, scoring him the highest points from the judges which included ASUCI President Lydia Natoolo and Peter the Anteater.
The half-hour in between the contests and the beginning of DJ Mustard’s set actually might have been the most fun part of the night. Students had filled up the Bren Center and managed to entertain themselves until the main event started. There’s something oddly endearing about seeing students dance and have fun together. Shocktoberfest is basically just a giant dance party that can be as fun as you want to make it, regardless of who’s playing. That was evident from the amount of hype that the crowd managed to reach despite nothing going on before the first performer. Soulstice League, a skit comedy group in charge of organizing UCI’s spring talent show, made an appearance in the form of a video to the delight of students. When DJ Mustard did come on, that delight only increased exponentially for the rest of the night.
What makes live shows fun is knowing that an artist wants to be there playing. DJ Mustard, who has played at UCI before, seemed to genuinely enjoy performing for UCI students. Born in Los Angeles (although having an affinity for the Bay Area, which he mentioned a couple times to hype up UCI students from up north), his debut album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2014. Everything from his interactions with the crowd to the actual setlist fit the atmosphere of Shocktoberfest perfectly.
The lights, fog and screens created an immersive experience — for people on the floor.
This isn’t to say that people couldn’t or weren’t having fun in the bleachers, but the large gap and distance from the stage made it easy to get bored towards the end of the night. The Bren Center is a larger venue so being towards the back will always feel far away from the stage, but because the floor had a limited number of students allowed, the giant gap looking down from the top of the Bren was a bit awkward. Of course it’s a matter of personal preference, but as someone who was both on the floor and chilling towards the empty seats at the top, being closer is definitely more fun. This year did offer a nice improvement — usually only 700 students are allowed onto the floor but the option for floor tickets was available for all students during the presale this year.
Next up was 6LACK, a rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who was most recently on tour with The Weeknd this summer for his Starboy Tour: Phase 1. His popularity with students was evident from the amount of merch that was being worn. “FREE 6LACK” shirts littered the floor and when 6LACK’s hit song “Prblms” began playing, everyone was singing along.
Finally, the main headliner, A$AP Ferg, began performing, and it was like the entire night had built up to that moment. I’d half expected the energy to go down since it had been four and a half hours since the doors opened but the energy hit its peak during his set. The floor went absolutely insane, but that carried well even to the last row in the venue.
While there were some comments online about frustration with the crowd’s rowdy behavior, the general reaction from students was positive.
Overall, it was a fun night. Despite my initial hesitations, Shocktoberfest put on a great show for students and exceeded expectations. Being around other UCI students having fun together is definitely something everyone should be a part of at least once during their time at UCI.