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Quavo stars in Spring Fling concert; students dissatisfied with ticket prices

Rachel Schwartz | Senior Staff Photographer
Former Migos star Quavo performs for a crowd of Spring Fling attendees.

Students crowded the perimeter of the Smith Center on Saturday as early 2010s star Jay Sean and former Migos rapper Quavo filled the stadium with booming music for GW’s annual Spring Fling.

In the lead-up to Saturday’s show, students were also noisy about the details of the annual event. Program Board, the GW student organization that oversees Spring Fling operations, made a number of changes to the event for this year — after years of free entry, the organization opted to charge between $25 and $60 for tickets. Program Board also moved the concert to the Smith Center for the first time since 2019, having held the event in University Yard in past years, and advertised the performance to all DMV-area students.

Program Board chair Heather Motta and vice chair Alfredo Granados said past Spring Fling concerts with big-name artists were ticketed events, like the Maroon 5 show in 2009 which cost $30. But since years have passed since those performances, they recognized students’ shock to see the ticket prices.

With this being the first in a number of years that Spring Fling is a paid event, we understand that some students might be surprised by the change,” Motta and Granados said in an email. “However, this structure has historically been very successful for Spring Fling, allowing us to bring iconic artists.”

Motta and Granados said they decided to move the event to the Smith Center in part because of concerns about inclement weather and hopes to increase attendance capacity. During the performance, the stadium’s 5,000-person capacity was only half full, and the stands were mostly empty.

After the organization announced Quavo as the headliner on Instagram last month, students flooded the post’s comments section. Some expressed enthusiasm about GW landing a more popular artist than last year’s indie performer Maude Latour. But others left disgruntled comments about being charged for tickets, and some noted that Program Board appeared to delete critical comments.

In a since-deleted comment, a Program Board member responded to a student upset about the changes to the event, asking if they would have “preferred a smaller artist such as Maude Latour that no one has heard of.”

Sydney Hammer, a senior and the former director of marketing and creative services for Program Board in 2023, said due to minimal funding from the Student Government Association in previous years, she understood the need to charge for the concert to secure a larger artist. Program Board received $21,000 from the University Wide Programs Fund for this year’s Spring Fling, and $6,000 from the SGA for all of 2023-24.

But Hammer said if she had been in the decision room for this year’s Spring Fling, she would have reserved a free block of tickets for GW students to balance affordability and the desire for a popular artist.

Hammer said Program Board members acted unprofessionally in their responses to student concerns about changes to the event since most students today are accustomed to Spring Fling being a free event.

“To not have anything accessible to GW students at all, nothing for free and then when people ask questions about it, to say what he said and just brush off any criticism, and say ‘Oh he’s a bigger artist than our last artist,’ that’s kind of crazy,” Hammer said. “If I was on Program Board, I would have been a little embarrassed.”

Student anticipation swelled to see the Grammy-nominated artist as doors for the concert opened at 7 p.m. Saturday but the show didn’t start until more than an hour later. A small crowd of people on the floor of the Smith Center chanted “Quavo! Quavo!” until the DJ told the crowd to make some noise for the 43-year-old opener, Jay Sean.

People screamed and frantically waved foam glow sticks as Sean pranced onto the dark stage and sang his 2009 song “Do You Remember?” But the shouts and bops quickly dropped to a hum, as some in the stands remained seated and a few on the floor started doing push-ups to amp themselves up for the long night ahead.

Sean then sang “Ride It” but the crowd showed little enthusiasm until he played the remixed version that went viral on TikTok in the summer of 2019. Students raised their phones raised in selfie positions as people in the stands jumped and lip-synced the chorus.

After a few lesser-known songs and a random performance of “SICKO MODE” — a song Sean has nothing to do with — he finally sang the song most students came for, “Down,” giving the mic to the audience for the song’s most known lyrics.

“We were surprised how many songs we knew by Jay Sean,” said Ava Jakominich, a first-year majoring in international affairs. 

But some students were absent from the small crowd pressing against the concert barrier, breaking from their annual tradition to attend Spring Fling. Christina Gelmini, a junior majoring in psychology, said she went to Spring Fling in 2022 because she was able to stop by after class but didn’t go to this year’s concert due to the high ticket prices.

“If there’s something I’m gonna spend $60 on, it’s probably gonna be like utilities or something,” she said.

Stefan Ney, a senior majoring in journalism, said he was initially thrilled by the Quavo headliner announcement. But once Ney saw the event would be ticketed, he said all of his excitement for the concert “zapped” out of him, and he opted not to attend. Despite not being a die-hard Swae Lee fan, Ney said he enjoyed attending the 2022 Spring Fling because of the communal experience of students coming together to jam outside.

“I feel like Spring Fling has gone through these weird transitions over the last couple of years where they can’t nail down exactly what it is other than just a concert,” Ney said.

This year’s concert had its own stark transition in student interest following Sean’s exit from the stage. Attendees rose to their feet for former Migos star Quavo’s dramatic emergence from a smoke machine fog. Before performing his song “Patty Cake,” he told attendees to make a ‘T’ with their arms for his late nephew Takeoff, the “ultimate ambassador” of rap trio Migos.

Students began to chant “F*ck Chris Brown” during the middle of the concert — Brown released a scathing diss track of Quavo the day before Spring Fling. Instead of directly acknowledging the beef, Quavo rapped “Fight Night,” a boisterous track about being too powerful for his haters.

The 33-year-old “Walk It Talk It” rapper continued his set with hits like “Slippery.” He dabbled with an acoustic backing at the end of the latter, before continuing the sparse framework for the start of “I Get the Bag.” As the performance went on, students began to head to the exits as energy dimmed.

When he performed his verse from “I’m the One,” the hit DJ Khaled mega collaboration, students held one finger up in the air. Even as the artist called for the lights to go out, they remained on behind him. Quavo ended the night with his hit feature verse from “Congratulations,” a fitting scene for the senior class’ last spring fling.

There were a few moments in the night when the crowd wasn’t rapping along to his songs including older tracks like “Hannah Montana.” Some “fans” sang only the chorus of several tracks like “T-shirt” but mini mosh-pits still formed and screams grew as the rapper gave everyone a blast from the past, 2016 hit “Bad and Boujee.” 

As Quavo left the building, students crowded around his black SUV, chasing after him as the three-car escort drove away.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Baer, Contributing Culture Editor
Jenna, a senior majoring in creative writing, is the 2023-24 contributing culture editor. She previously worked as a staff writer and cartoonist. She is a Houston, Texas girl through and through.
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