Despite the frigid gusts of wind blowing on the golden Friday afternoon, dozens of eager students trailed the south entrance of the quad just minutes before the gates opened for FEST, DePaul’s annual spring concert. With performances by Los Angeles-based band Milo Greene, indie-rock band American Authors and rap heavyweight Big Sean, it was no surprise that some students spent their whole week preparing for the event.
“I stood in line for almost half an hour just to buy my tickets,” freshman Della Hall said. “I’ve been waiting here for two hours and I saw Big Sean sound checking earlier. There was no way I could miss this.”
Hall, who was the lucky first person in line, had a trail of similarly anxious students behind her. Those who had also been waiting for hours were firmly planted on the ground, charging their phones in portable tube-like chargers in order to guarantee enough battery life to last the night. Others stood their ground, toting custom colored “IDFWU” (“I don’t f— with you”) poster board signs and handcrafted flower crowns. Once 5 p.m struck and students successfully passed through security pat downs, they swiftly jetted to the barricade to be as close to the stage as possible.
Scout Ripley, the student band that won Battle, was scheduled to go on first, but technical difficulties with sound caused their set to be postponed. This minor hiccup failed to faze the audience though, as some took their time to browse the new attractions or grab a bite to eat before making their way to the stage.
Toward the west end of the quad was a photo booth draped in black curtains for ultimate privacy as students made goofy faces with friends inside. There was also a backdrop made of large, colored wooden letters that spelled F E S T draped in white Christmas lights. To the south was a tent of select foods from Chartwells, allowing students to use meal plans. Tents and tables from Toyota and Floyd’s Barbershop, FEST’s official sponsors, also captured the interest of students by giving away discounts and free swag.
Everyone’s attention was locked onto the stage once Milo Greene started performing. More students began stumbling in midway through the band’s 45-mintute set, causing a mini-dance party right in the middle of the crowd. After the first set, the crowd reverted back to Instagram and Snapchat selfies while DePaul Activities Board members reset the stage for American Authors.
Now with a larger, more enthusiastic and intoxicated crowd, American Authors immediately fed off the crowd’s erupting energy. They managed to maintain full control over the wild audience, with at least one hand in the air at all times. Closing out with their biggest hit “Best Day of My Life,” the Brooklyn-based band left everyone in good spirits – but not for too long.
The erratic crowd began to bubble over with anxiety and frustration as more impatient students began pushing and shoving others, causing a massive spill of bodies on the patchy grass. Security immediately infiltrated the crowd, expressing zero tolerance for such behavior. Some students simply avoided the crowd all together.
“Last year was worse for me because I actually fell down,” sophomore Victoria Latimer said. “It’s so much better being in the back. You can see the whole stage and can actually breathe.”
Others weren’t as willing to give up their sacred spot at the head of the crowd.
“This is all the stuff that comes with being at a festival,” sophomore Douglas Brandt said. Having attended several outdoor music festivals in the past, Brandt said he was ready to defend himself.
“Expect to be pushed and shoved and thrown around a little,” he said, chugging a final swig of water before tossing the empty bottle to the ground. “Its all a part of the experience. If you don’t like it, don’t come.”
Unfortunately, even Big Sean’s flashy appearance to the stage wasn’t enough to break up the relentless bickering. Students eventually adjusted to the disorderly nature of the crowd, being pushed and pulled every which way while rapping along to “Mercy,” “Dance (A$$)”, and “My Last.”
“I really f— with ya’ll DePaul, I really do,” Big Sean exclaimed before closing with his most quotable song to date, “I Don’t F—With You.”
Exhausted, hundreds of sweaty students poured into the streets of Lincoln Park once FEST was over. Some barely made it off the quad, falling against the walls of the Student Center while others, arms linked over the shoulders of their friends, stumbled their way home.