Music may be a universal language, but University Union (UU) at Syracuse University had a hell of a time translating students’ tastes into the annual Block Party concert. The increasing diversity on campus looks great on paper, but it makes life difficult for UU leaders when they try to assemble a crowd-pleaser of a concert.
On Friday, April 27, the Carrier Dome plays host to American electronic deejay and producer Kaskade, who signed with Ultra Records in 2006. He has collaborated with Tisto, who passed through the Salt City in September, and is renowned for his remixes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga hits. After taking home the award for being “America’s Best DJ” from DJ Times last year, Kaskade took his place on the cutting edge of electronica. His reputation, however, didn’t precede him to Syracuse.
Also playing the annual party are California natives Cold War Kids. Their most recent album, Mine is Yours (DGC Records), resembles the CDs of Kings of Leon, thanks to the deft hand of producer Jacquire King, who had his fingers in both bands’ projects. Cold War Kids, however, has managed to stay far enough under the radar to maintain its hipster following, while others in their genre cross over to the Top 40 charts.
Recently added to the lineup is Phantogram. The pop duo’s trippy guitar licks and brushy percussion are catchy, but nothing new; in fact, the group’s “When I’m Small” shares an identical bass line with Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up to Dry.” Phantogram embodies the neo-retro trend that appeals to fans of neon Ray Ban sunglasses, Urban Outfitters (or Forever 21) and breakout hit rockers Foster the People.
Gabrielle Rumrill is a graduate student at SU who also completed her undergraduate degree there. After so many years on the Hill, she’s seen many Block Parties with performers including Drake in 2010, Ben Folds in 2009 and Fergie in 2008. This year she isn’t familiar with any of the acts.
“This year’s lineup is very different than in previous years,” Rumrill said. “It’s not well-known artists like Jay-Z or whoever. In fact, when UU released the performers on Facebook I was looking at people’s comments and reactions, and within the first three minutes there had to have been more than 75 people commenting, ‘Who is that?’ referring to the artists performing.”
Rumrill supposed that UU sought to expose the student body to emerging artists with its choices, while others took a cynical stance toward the event. Twitter, one of the essential publicity outlets for college events, exploded with a new hashtag #ThingsIdRatherDoThanGoToBlockParty.
To remedy the situation, UU plans to open its doors to disgruntled students on Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Life Sciences Building’s room 001, where they hope to answer questions and clear up any whispers about the selections. For Rumrill, though, the concert was a lost cause from the beginning.
“I won’t go this year,” she said. “But it’s because it’s right around finals time and end-of-the-year papers. I won’t have time.” She’s not alone in her reasoning. The big event falls in the middle of what precious hours remain to study and graduate.
Block Party is presented by the SU University Union on Friday, April 27, at the Carrier Dome, 900 Irving Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert begins at 6:30. Tickets are available for $30 to the general public via Ticketmaster.com, where detailed seating information is also available. Student tickets are $16 and can be purchased at the box office in Schine Student Center, 303 University Place.