Eager Nas fans fill Matthews

Eager Nas fans fill Matthews

By Maggie Cassidy

From the opening notes of Saturday night’s Springfest concert when RJD2 spun classic singles like “Let the Good Times Roll” to Nas’ finale performance, the good times did roll – smoothly and without major incidents, said Council for University Programs (CUP) concert chair Jeff Maimon.

“It was truly the definition of a perfect concert,” he said. “Every artist did a great set. It just ran smoothly.”

RJD2, Lupe Fiasco, Gym Class Heroes and headliner Nas held down the Matthews Arena stage from 6:30 p.m. until after 11 p.m. Maimon said CUP did not keep track of how many students attended, but estimated almost all 4,350 ticket-holders came. He attributed the packed crowd to the similarity of sound among the four artists.

“The past few years the roster of artists was on various spectrums. You have people knowing they were going to come for [a certain artist] and then leave,” he said. “There were still a lot of people this year who only wanted to see Nas, but you could tell that it felt as full as it could be most of the time this year.”

Maimon said the entire process – including booking the bands, selling the tickets, setting up the stage and executing the show – went better than CUP could have hoped for.

“It was weird because I had this weird feeling that something would go wrong,” he said. “Everything was going so well.”

CUP sold 3,600 tickets in the first round of sales in a record-setting seven hours March 28. After empty-handed students complained, CUP opened the balcony area April 11 and another 750 tickets were sold in 12 minutes.

Freshman criminal justice major Mike Small, who stood in line outside Matthews Arena for more than an hour March 28 to get a floor ticket, said he was impressed with the concert, and felt Nas’ set was “definitely” the best performance.

“He played every song I wanted to hear from him. All of his big hits from all of the years,” he said, noting “Got Ur Self a Gun” was his favorite of the night. “I could feel the energy coming off of him.”

Bethany Allard, a freshman communications major, agreed.

“I had absolutely the best time ever, and I thought he played the greatest set,” she said. “I was going crazy with the old stuff.”

Both Lupe Fiasco and Nas incorporated political overtones into their set. Lupe inserted an emphatic “Fuck Bush” into his lyrics, and Nas proclaimed he wanted to bring back the head of President George Bush on a silver platter, drawing loud cheers and applause from the crowd.

“I was surprised, but then again it’s a live show, so anything goes,” Allard said.

Some students said they were disappointed with the 12-song set by Gym Class Heroes.

“I didn’t think Gym Class Heroes were that good as live performers. Their presence wasn’t that good – they felt distant from the crowd,” said Dan Abrams, a freshman biology major. “I think the kind of music they are is something I would listen to in the car – not something I would go to a concert for again.”

Small was more positive about the four-member band, whose single, “Cupid’s Chokehold,” recently climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

“That’s not really my kind of music, but they weren’t bad,” he said.

Both CUP and audience members said it will be tough to top such a star-studded event next year.

“The bar is raised very high and it’s a challenge that CUP is more than willing and very anxious to take on,” said Maimon, adding that the organization begins talks with potential performers in December. They don’t secure artists until after the Grammy season because nominations and awards can significantly impact an artist’s price.

“We’re not sure on the format,” he added. “We would think that it probably wouldn’t be hip-hop focused, just to appeal to as many different students as possible over the year span.”

Allard said it would be tough to top a headliner like Nas.

“The only way they could top this is if they brought Biggie and Tupac,” she said.

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