Over 4,000 students gathered in Aldrich Park to join R&B artist UMI and pop artist Jeremy Zucker at the first annual Moonlight Melodies music festival hosted by ASUCI on Friday, Feb. 14 to celebrate the love, friendship and romance of Valentine’s Day.
The concert began at 6 p.m. on the grass fields in front of the Computer Science buildings, bringing out a plethora of singles, couples and outgoing friend groups from UCI’s diverse student population. All concert go-ers giddily entered the festival grounds and made their way to the stage decked out with beaming, fuschia lights that furthered the romantic mood of the night. The atmosphere at the event was serene and soothing, especially amidst the chaos that is midterms and exams for the student population. Thankfully, the concert proved to be a much-needed escape from the students’ stress and responsibilities, an incredibly refreshing feat for ASUCI.
“We really wanted to go for that romantic, relaxed, R&B vibe,” said Niki Izadshenas, Student Services Vice President and event organizer for the Moonlight Melodies festival. “We’ve had in mind to do a pop-up concert for the longest [time] to surprise students. I thought that’d be something fun for them.”
The Moonlight Melodies concert is the first of its kind at UCI since concerts have only been held previously during the fall and spring quarters of the academic year. However, in light of the eternal cancellation of UCI’s most beloved music festival, Shocktoberfest, ASUCI’s Student Services has been trying their best to creatively instill new forms of entertainment in hopes of sparking new musical traditions for future undergrad generations.
“We hoped to have started another UCI tradition that can come back yearly and present more diversity in the music we bring to campus. A goal of ours is to appeal to multiple audiences, too,” Izadshenas said.
The show itself consisted of three musical acts. The opener was a second year student from UCI’s own Greek Life population, Sahil Shah, artistically known as SHAH. His tunes blended basic elements of R&B, hip-hop and even EDM as it wonderfully set the tone for the rest of the night.
SHAH’s music was also the most upbeat and energetic of the night. It had audience members jumping up and down to the beat of the music with contagious energy as everyone welcomed the new artist with open arms and enthusiasm.
“This is my second time performing. It felt great, it was a wonderful learning experience. I loved being able to interact with a larger crowd. My first time performing was in front of 35 [Kappa Sigma] brothers so this is a nice change,” said SHAH about his time on stage.
Following SHAH was none other than the graceful R&B artist, UMI. Her stage presence was impeccable and the physical embodiment of a warm, colorful spring afternoon. She opened with the song “Love Affair,” a nod to the night’s romantic atmosphere. Her vocals mirrored a calm, gentle stream of water flowing down a river.
“I want y’all to breathe in love, gratitude. Inhale and exhale. Release any negativity inside of you. It’s gonna be okay,” UMI said.
Following UMI was the headlining pop artist Jeremy Zucker, who has amounted an impressive 13 million listeners on Spotify after the release of his popular single “comethru.” Zucker’s airy beats and mellifluous vocals filled the air as the crowd waved their hands in unison and sang along to Zucker’s lyrics accompanied by his impressive guitar playing skills. He went on to perform his songs “Ghosts,” “End” and even featured a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You.”
“I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout you / Do you think about me still?,” sang Zuker amorously while playing the keyboard.
Zucker was a wonderful way to close the show as his music had people embracing their loved ones and putting their iPhone flashlights in the air, which resembled a beautiful starry night as Zucker looked out into the crowd.
Unfortunately, the festival came to an end at 9 p.m., but festival go-ers were more than satisfied after the night’s acts.
“I’m so happy I got to see UMI. I love her, she literally brought me out here tonight with my friends just to see her. It’s crazy how music can bring people together like that. And I’m all for the love and positivity! We need more of that out here,” said third year student Dora Cabral, who was one among the many in the crowd.
Angela Silva is an Entertainment Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.