Arts & Culture

Spring Weekend promises rich array of artists

2018 lineup designed to ‘Distort the Norm,’ ‘Disrupt Hierarchies,’ transcend genres

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, April 23, 2018

DRAM, pictured above, is a Virginia-based rapper and producer who will perform on campus Friday. DRAM is best known for his single “Broccoli.”

Students have waited eagerly for 2018’s installment of Spring Weekend since the Brown Concert Agency held its annual Spring Weekend lineup release party at Stout Irish Sports Pub March 20. This year’s Spring Weekend will take place April 27 and 28 and feature a rich array of artists.

As the two-day concert aims to “distort the norm” and “disrupt hierarchies” according to the release video, its lineup boasts six outstanding acts that do exactly that — transcend genre boundaries and redefine cultural norms through their defiant soundscapes and personas.

“When booking artists, we try to think about performances that we think are going to be really good live,” said Michael Mills ’20, a board member of BCA. “We always focus on diversity and trying to bring in a broad range of musical styles and people from different backgrounds.”

Friday’s headliner is British singer-songwriter NAO, a solo artist adored for her distinctive pop-funk style that fuses playful electronic beats with soulful R&B-style lyrics. Her debut album, “For All We Know,” released in 2016, saw her nominated for Best British Female Solo Artist.

NAO will be preceded by Rico Nasty — also known as “Tacobella” — who is most famous for her eclectic, TV-inspired singles “iCarly” and “Hey Arnold,” both released in 2016. The Maryland rapper’s latest album, “Sugar Trap 2,” is jazzy and quite decidedly trap, characterized by synth lines, heavy back beats and autotuned raps.

Also performing on Friday is Virginia-based rapper and producer DRAM (stands for Does Real Ass Music), who is best known for his playful hit single “Broccoli,” featuring Lil Yachty, which was just one of many gems on his debut LP, “Big Baby DRAM,” released in 2016. In a review for the breakthrough LP, Pitchfork drew comparisons between DRAM’s music and a “big bubblebath,” while also underscoring his charismatic “camp counselor” qualities.

The artist that has received the most buzz post-reveal is Saturday’s headliner, Anderson .Paak, a California-based singer, rapper and producer whose jazzy, sensual anthems — including “Lyk Dis” and “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” ­— have been energizing the playlists of student parties since their release on his dual set of 2016 albums “Yes Lawd!” and “Malibu,” respectively.

NAO and .Paak “were two people that we wanted to book this year from the start and we were really happy to book. They have this sound that’s really, really popular right now,” Mills said. “For people who like more than one genre, they are cross-genre performers.”

.Paak’s performance will be preceded by a set by Japanese singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama. Known for her glittery, soul-infused digi-pop songs like “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome,” Sawayama has been acclaimed by The Guardian for her singular capacity for synthesizing her influences into something “bracing and modern.” Her recently released eponymous album, “Rina,” includes Spice Girls-reminscent tracks like “Ordinary Superstar” and “Take Me As I Am.”

Following Sawayama’s set is Chicago-based indie-rock band Whitney — which will provide an exciting contrast to the concert’s primarily pop and hip-hop vibe. The project of songwriters Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek, Whitney’s music blends Bon Iver’s lyrical austerity and the vintage, twangy romance of The Alabama Shakes and The Walters.

Providence’s beloved 18-member brass band and Spring Weekend staple What Cheer? Brigade will also perform a set on Saturday.