Running the gamut of genres, ranging from mass appeal to up-and-comers, the Brown Concert Agency released a stacked Spring Weekend lineup at midnight, headlined by R&B legend Lauryn Hill and electronic producer and DJ Diplo.
BCA revealed the artist names for next month’s concert — scheduled for April 11-12 — to an eager audience at its speakeasy and release party, held at the Whiskey Republic Tuesday night. Annual opening night staple What Cheer? Brigade will make an appearance for the third consecutive year, followed by Chance the Rapper and Diplo Friday night. Saturday’s lineup features Cloud Nothings, Dan Deacon, Andrew Bird and Lauryn Hill.
After canceling the annual Fall Concert and armed with a $300,000 budget from the Undergraduate Finance Board — nearly twice last year’s funding — BCA was able to bring artists from four different genres with name recognition among a variety of students, said Cameron Johnson ’14, BCA administrative chair.
“We have been getting a ton of student opinion … that there was not enough female representation,” Will Peterson ’14, BCA publicity chair, told The Herald. BCA had received feedback that, aside from female members of bands such as Dirty Projectors in years past, recent lineups had been too male-dominated, he said.
The last female Spring Weekend headliner was M.I.A. in 2008.
But Hill is the “superstar” of the lineup this year, headlining Saturday’s concert, said Micah Greenberg ’14, BCA booking chair, calling her a “literal legend.”
“In my mind, she’s like the soul of hip-hop and just this supercharged rock goddess,” she said.
Hill’s live performance “commands the audience,” Peterson said, adding that her shows incorporate a full rock band, an influence that is less dominant on her records.
BCA has received positive feedback from students regarding electronic acts for Friday night in years past, Johnson said, making Diplo a logical choice for Friday night’s headliner.
Though many DJs have strong recordings, they do not necessarily translate to the live experience. But Diplo combines name recognition with an incredible stage presence, Peterson said.
The artist behind Diplo — Thomas Wesley Pentz — is also responsible for electronic group Major Lazer, formerly a project alongside fellow DJ Switch. Major Lazer performed at Spring Weekend in 2010. Diplo has also collaborated with Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean.
Up-and-coming Chicago-based artist Chance the Rapper will kick off the main concert after What Cheer? Brigade performs Friday. His music employs a variety of styles, from soul and gospel to hip-hop, and he comes fresh off a collaboration with electronic heavy-hitter Skrillex, which was made available for streaming on iTunes Monday, Pitchfork reported.
“We see him becoming more mainstream as days go by,” Johnson said. “His social media presence is amazing.”
Chance the Rapper represents a lesser-known facet of the Chicago rap scene, Greenberg said.
But for the past few years, Peterson said, BCA has been able to effectively foresee and book rappers on the ascent before they hit the mainstream.
Saturday’s concert will open with grunge rockers Cloud Nothings. The group’s members “make music with the thrash mentality of Cap’n Jazz and the pop sensibility of 2000’s Fueled by Ramen,” BCA said in a statement.
Dan Deacon will pick up where Cloud Nothings leave off. Peterson noted positive feedback from students about the quality of his “immersive” live show and his ability to absorb live audiences in his music. The composer is known for his interactive performances and “cacophonous” sound, according to the BCA statement.
“He’s kind of a psychedelic rock god,” Greenberg said.
Talented multi-instrumentalist folker Andrew Bird will play “a really chill typical Saturday environment,” Johnson said. “He is definitely a show-stopper.”
A virtuoso violinist, Bird was classically trained in the Suzuki method since he was four. He layers folk, classical music, vocals, guitar and a multitude of other instruments into a distinctive sound that has carried him through an expansive, decades-long career, both as a solo artist and as part of the now-defunct Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire.
BCA chose to release the lineup at its annual speakeasy this year in order to drum up excitement about both events, Peterson said. In past years, the speakeasy has not received the attention it deserves due to both lack of publicity and lack of interest among students, he added.
But to draw a larger crowd and increase the “hype” around the lineup’s announcement, BCA chose to combine the two events.
The group begins its process of crafting a lineup in the summer and fall, Peterson said. BCA members crowdsource possible headliners through an annual student poll, examine lineups for other festivals and research potential acts on music blogs.
But often the most popular artists in polling are far beyond the reach of the BCA budget, he said. “Once something is on the radio, the price goes up in a way that you just cannot imagine.”
The most common criticism BCA confronts is that students are unfamiliar with the artists slated to appear, Peterson said.
This year, “we were able to secure (the artists) for an amount of money that is not really representative of how popular they are,” Johnson said.
“Every year we have the pressure to bring people that people will recognize,” she said. “This year was especially important because we were asking for more money expressly for that purpose.” Andrew Bird, Lauryn Hill, Chance the Rapper and Diplo “each … hit a huge portion of the student body in some way,” she added.