April 30, 2012
Wiz fills the Park Center
More than 100 help organize rapper's performance
Grammy nominated rap artist Wiz Khalifa took the stage to headline SUNY Cortland's annual Spring Fling Concert Saturday, filling up the Park Center with more than 3,500 students and fans — a record attendance for the event hosted by the college. Concert-goers began lining up outside the arena just after 4:20 p.m. hoping to get as close to the stage as possible when the doors opened at 7.
The concert was the finale of Cortland StateÕs Spring Fling weekend, which included a carnival presented by the Student Activities Board. Spring Fling carnival was held during the day outside the Cory Union building, featuring YouTube sensation Dom Mazzetti for autograph signing. The festive day is also accompanied by the unofficial and infamous student-hosted parties of Monroe Fest, named after Monroe Street in Cortland. The street inhabits primarily off-campus housing for students.
"Monroe Fest is just the build up to the concert," said freshman Stephanie Sorrentino. She and her friends began their celebrating the previous afternoon.
SUNY Cortland students look forward to participating in the perennial spring celebration, but the students are also key in designing and presenting the event as well. SAB consists of s12 executives and 30 general members. These students plan events throughout the school year such as Siblings Weekend. However, much of their effort is dedicated to the Spring Fling.
"We work really hard as an executive board to bring artists that the campus will be excited to see," said Maureen Gardner, senior geology major and SAB president. "Wiz Khalifa put on an amazing show, and the students seemed to be very happy. I couldn't have imagined it going any better." Gardner credits SAB Music Co-Chairs, juniors Delvin Johnson and Justin Carlson for much of the detail work surrounding the show.
During the fall semester, SAB surveys the student body and collects data about what kinds of artists are desired. Spring Fling funds are budgeted accordingly and artists' agents are contacted to work out logistics. SAB works with the artists right until the concert is finished Ñ from setting up the stage, to providing transportation and accommodations.
"With university police, our student volunteers, and all the crew in production, there are well over 100 people involved," said Mary Kate Boland, assistant director of Campus Activities.
When the lights first went down to start the show, the crowd was warmed by Big Gigantic, a duo from Boulder Colorado experimenting with high energy DJ-based music infused with live saxophone and drums. This Cortland show was the third consecutive gig for the band, which played on college campuses in Michigan and Tennessee and then a fourth show in Topeka, Kan., on Sunday. Their newest album titled "Nocturnal" is available for free download in its entirety on their website, Biggigantic.net.
According to Johnson, Big Gigantic was late to be added to the billing, proving to be the only difficulty for SAB in the process. They weren't confirmed until early April, but the group was well received. Saxophonist and producer Dominic Lalli said, "It's good to be here. The crowd was awesome, and it's great to play with Wiz."
The semester-long anticipation for the Spring Fling finally ascended like a cloud of smoke when Wiz Khalifa and his band came to the stage. He wore a bejeweled denim vest, and he was draped in showy accessories from head to toe. Singing into a microphone-stand hanging with colorful scarves, Khalifa's stage presence and hip look is evocative of the late Jimi Hendrix, but with more tattoos. His showmanship and dance were seamless as he transitioned between each well-rehearsed song. The subject matter of his material tends toward the frivolous lifestyle of being a rapper and his own recreational substance use, but overall his message is uplifting. He complimented Cortland's crowd for their positive energy. On more than one occasion he coaxed the audience into raising up their hands in a peace sign, reciprocating the peace symbol on the stage backdrop. He praised his musically talented bandmates, and he gave heartfelt thanks to his fans and to his new fiancé, American model and actress Amber Rose, who was in attendance Saturday evening.
Wiz Khalifa finishes up 12 more stops on his North American tour before heading to Europe for a tour in June.
Luka Starmer is an Ithaca College graduate with a degree in writing. The Cortland man is a regular contributor.
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