Stony Brook University’s annual spring concert introduced this year’s crowd to the openers Lil Skies, Aminé and headliner A$AP Ferg at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena on April 11.
For the first time ever, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) opened an online ticketing system that gave students the option of purchasing tickets without visiting the SAC ticket office. There was also the opportunity to win a Brookfest VIP experience guaranteeing six students and their guests suite access and a swag bag brought by Metro by T-Mobile.
In an effort to further motivate students, alumni and their guests to buy tickets for Brookfest, USG members held different times throughout the week to give away T-shirts to those with tickets.
Before doors opened at 6:30 p.m., a line of enthusiastic fans emerged from all over campus. When early attendees were asked about the choice of lineup, some weren’t too familiar with the artists.
“Personally, I’m not into rap music but I am looking forward to it,” Maha Noor, a senior health science major, said. “This is my first Brookfest in all of my time here. My friends told me about it and I was like ‘Why not? It should be a good experience.’”
Recent Stony Brook graduate and DJ for the night, Sana Fujimura, warmed upthe crowd with a variety of mixes that kept everyone moving in between the main performer’s sets. After DJing for past events such as Wolfieland and Roth Regatta, she performed for the first time on the Brookfest stage.
“USG asked me to open for Brookfest this time and I thought it might be cool to go back to Stony for a night,” Fujimura said. “I kind of wanted to bring out my taste, so I tested the waters with old school hip hop/classic house/afrobeats instead of what I usually play at Stony Brook.”
Once Lil Skies set foot on stage, the energy in the entire arena skyrocketed. Fans matched his spirit as he jumped from one side to the other while also leaving the stage to get up close and personal with those behind the barricades. In the middle of his set, he took a moment to autograph a hand-drawn picture junior health science major Fawaad Javaid had with him in the front row.
“I was just filled with joy because I wasn’t sure they’d actually sign it,” Javaid said. “I didn’t know that they’d give it to A$AP Ferg too. I’m still processing all this.”
Lil Skies played popular tracks including “i,” “Nowadays” and “Stop The Madness” from his most recent releases “Shelby” and “Life of a Dark Rose.” He also stopped to share some motivation and speak about his college experience.
“I went to college and eventually dropped out,” Lil Skies began. “Not trying to tell you to drop out to follow your dreams. Keep doing your thing and I promise you, your dreams will come true.”
Aminé echoed Lil Skies’ advice later on in the night: “Do what you gotta do to fulfill your dreams. Get that degree if you have to.”
To start his set, he emphasized how everyone should feel beautiful. “I want you to feel beautiful,” he said. “When I say ‘You’re beautiful,’ yell back ‘I know.’” He continued to say these two words after each song ended, which featured a combination of tracks from his 2017 debut album “Good For You” and most recent album, “ONEPOINTFIVE.”
“My favorite part about Brookfest was seeing the community together enjoying the music we love,” Shaan Bhog, junior applied mathematics and statistics and economics double major, said. “I’m not really a big fan of these artists but I was able to vibe with everyone else. The variety of artists was pretty good too.”
Both Aminé and A$AP Ferg took a moment to honor Nipsey Hussle, a Los Angeles-based rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur and community activist who died due to gun violence on March 31. Founder of A$AP Mob and New York rapper A$AP Yams was also honored that night. “In one two three, say ‘Rest In Peace A$AP Yams’” A$AP Ferg yelled.
A$AP Ferg performed a mix of his songs trailing back to his popular 2013 song “Shabba” from the album “Trap Lord.”His mix included “Plain Jane,” “New Level” and “Trap and a Dream.” He sprayed the crowd with water after asking if they’ve ever been to one of his shows and if not, then they were in for a big surprise.
After a few songs, he left the stage to sing with the fans in the stands area. The mosh pits, memorable performances and close interactions with the artists made this an enjoyable Brookfest for the students, who kept jumping along with the rappers and singing along to their songs.
As rap artists continue climbing the charts and new artists emerge from popular streaming platforms such as Soundcloud and Spotify every day, fans are stuck trying to play catch-up and know who’s who. It’s impossible not to appreciate the wave of rap artists and how quickly the genre has expanded, even for those students who didn’t particularly know who Lil Skies, Aminé or A$AP Ferg were before the concert.
“My favorite performance of the night was Lil Skies – that was my only reason for going,” Ricardo Gonzales, a senior biology major, said. “The most popular genre right now is hip-hop and rap so other than that you won’t really see any pop bands or rock bands coming anytime soon.”