Students piled in front of the stage on a bustling Main Green to catch a glimpse of a gorilla — or rather, a dancer in deceptive anthropoid attire — performing alongside DJ duo Major Lazer, which opened for MGMT at Friday night's Spring Weekend concert.
The swaying, yelling crowd, mostly students from Brown — which Diplo of Major Lazer called the world's "coolest university" — got so out of hand that security had to push the audience away from the stage.
Hector Ramirez '12 said "Major Lazer was a lot of fun" even though "there was a lot of pushing."
"I honestly felt like I had to take the people around me out for dinner because I was so close and intimate with them," said Kimanh Duong '12, adding that she hoped Saturday's performances by Wale, the Black Keys and Snoop Dogg would be "more chill."
Midway through Major Lazer's act, somebody was hurt and Brown Concert Agency representatives had to pause the concert. "People were pressing up against the barrier (from the front of the stage to the sound board) and it was collapsing, and we had to stop Major Lazer and take it out," said Alex Spoto '11, the agency's administrative chair.
"Some people were getting crushed up in the front," he added. "One person passed out from the pressure." To avoid future injuries, Spoto said, BCA changed the audience area's setup for Saturday's performance.
The management of the crowd got easier, though, as the night went on and indie electronic pop band MGMT took over the stage, starting with songs from their latest album, "Congratulations." The energy picked up as the psychedelia duo transitioned to better-known songs like "Electric Feel," which got the audience jumping and shouting along to the chorus — "Ooh girl, shock me like an electric eel!"
Audience members tossed giant beach balls and glowsticks in the air, contributing to the electric feel on the green.
Band members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser ensured that the students didn't leave without their daily dose of cliches. "We envy your position," VanWyngarden said. "Enjoy college."
VanWyngarden also told the swarm of students to remember that "life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away," quoting playwright George Bernard Shaw.
When the band left the stage, though, the crowd wasn't satisfied. After several minutes of chanting "Kids" — the title of MGMT's 2008 hit single, which the band refused to play for frustrated fans at last week's Coachella Festival in California — the band returned for an encore.
"I thought there was going to be a riot when MGMT didn't play ‘Kids,'" Kat Reardon '12 said.
"But then it was really great when they did play it," Lee Stevens '12 said.
Johnson and Wales University junior Ariah Dawson, who was selling food at the show, said Major Lazer "outdid" the night's headliner.
Still, Adam Greenberg '10 said he "thought MGMT was great," adding, "No one seems to like their new music. It was fine. They played enough of their old music to appease me."
Brown's concerts tend to fall "a little bit too much on the side of rap," Greenberg added. "It's always rappers, rappers, rappers."
Saturday's attendance was a mixture of avid hip-hop listeners and blues-rock aficionados like Providence local Ben Welles and Plymouth, Mass., resident Jill Leonard. "I'm a huge Black Keys fan," Welles said. And as for Snoop Dogg, he added, "He's a legend. You can't really turn that down."
Shannon Parker '12 said the Saturday show's atmosphere was "more relaxed" than the previous night's. The afternoon's lineup began with student band Last Good Tooth, whose music combined folk, country and rock influences. The crowd thickened as Wale entered the stage, performing "Mama Told Me" and then "Mirror, Mirror," whose chorus the energetic attendees enhanced by echoing, "On the wall!" Wale's eclectic selection included covers of Kings of Leon and Kelly Clarkson, as well as "Pretty Girls" — a performance that sparked some controversy.
Wale repeated the lyrics, "Ugly girls be quiet, quiet, pretty girls clap," calling on the audience to chant along with him and perform the song's instructions, which left some audience members unsettled.
"It is interesting that Wale claimed to be celebrating women" in the song's introduction, considering that his lyrics were "objectifying them just based on appearance," said Ben Bonyhadi '11. "To put the judgment in such a celebratory atmosphere really put me off," he added.
Alex Kua '13 said he "thought Wale was pretty entertaining" but was most excited to see Snoop Dogg.
Blues-rock duo the Black Keys put on a soulful, contagious and seamless show that included dance-inciting tunes like "10 A.M. Automatic" and even inspired many to crowd-surf. As students on the green recovered from this mosh pit-like segment of the show and the evening began to set in, the crowd anxiously awaited Snoop Dogg's arrival.
Cupcake connoisseur Jessica Becker, owner of Wickenden Street cafe The Duck and Bunny, set up a booth on the green to sell treats, like the pastry chef's special lime juice-topped "snoop-cake." Becker said she was "psyched to see Snoop Dogg," adding that the occasion-appropriate cupcake was "going on the ‘Gin and Juice' song and all its elements."
On the other hand, Jara Crear '12 and Samantha Carter '12 came mainly to see Wale, they said. "I'm just not a big Snoop fan," said Crear, adding that the sheer amount of hysteria over the rapper's performance was probably due to Snoop's "Smoke weed every day," which provided students with "the perfect opportunity to smoke."
And Snoop Dogg didn't disappoint these excuse-seeking students, who trampled one another to get a view of him. As the hip-hop star pulled up in a white van, exited and immediately stepped onstage in a Brown hockey jersey, the crowd screamed "Snoop!"
"Is anyone smoking weed out there?" he asked the crowd, evoking a resounding reply in the affirmative. Alanna Kwoka '10 said she found this question unnecessary and confusing, considering the smell and the "cloud emanating from the audience."
Spectators were spread around the vicinity of the Main Green to listen in on the concert without charge. Richie Walnutte, who eavesdropped Saturday evening, said he and the Brown friends he came to visit from Washtington, D.C., were "very happy with (their) experience." Still, "I wish we could get in. They should sell more tickets," he said from the edge of Lincoln Field during Snoop Dogg's performance.
The raging crowd rapped along with Snoop to "Gin and Juice," a song whose lyrics, "I don't love you hos, I'm out the door," like Wale's, did not go without criticism.
"He's misogynistic, as most rappers tend to be," said Kwoka, who added that she "found him very narcissistic with ‘Snoop Dogg' in every song ... I wasn't really sure what he was rapping about besides himself."
Snoop also asked the audience to "give me some of that gangsta love" and, before performing "F— You" — a song about a pole dancer which he originally recorded in collaboration with Akon — gave a shout-out to "good girls," "bad girls" and "good girls who want to go bad."
Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn said the weekend overall was a success.
"What I've heard about the concerts has all been good," she said Sunday evening, adding that she hasn't "heard anything having to do with neighbor complaints." Friday and Saturday night each saw four students taken to the hospital by Emergency Medical Services for alcohol-related reasons. Among students, faculty and staff, "there was a lot of good work together and I think that helped to make the weekend successful," she said.
Spoto agreed that the annual event "went extremely smoothly," adding, "It was really beautiful outside. We got to have both shows outdoors." He thought the "only bad thing was having to stop Major Lazer and having
the crowd depressed," he said.
Especially with BCA's extra hiring budget for Spring Weekend's 50th anniversary, "everything was extra special," he added. "We were really excited about all the talent. Everyone delivered in their own way."
— With additional reporting by Ashley Aydin