Ferg at FEST

FEST is quintessentially DePaul. It’s a gathering of the wide variety of people that go here, all in one place. (Which is a much weirder experience than you’d think.) The basketball boys mixed with all the relatively unathletic folk and the frat boys made their presence known, as they always do. The freshmen buzzed around the Quad, excited for what they likely believe will become an annual tradition for them over the next four years. Seniors, excited to finally graduate, tried to use their final FEST as a final send-off and bookend for their time at DePaul.

However, much like many other aspects of this institution, FEST also bends to the will of the school and city’s hierarchy. For example, it operates under the burden of Lincoln Park noise pollution policies that kept the concert’s volume to a minimum, prompting Ferg to repeatedly beg them to turn up his microphone.

I arrived at the Quad in what felt like a rush of stumbling DePaul students all anxiously presenting their tickets and going through security with their eyes set on the stage ahead. BJ The Chicago Kid was on stage playing to a crowd of half-distracted students spread out across the grass. Tents and food tables surrounded the event. I had had a few too many beverages at that point to take much notice, but a few semi-adults in the crowd proudly displayed glitter-covered temporary tattoos reminiscent of a childhood carnival.

The crowd was definitely different than Ferg’s normal fanbase, forcing him to cater his setlist to his mainstream hits in order to engage the audience. And it worked. ”

The sky shifted to gray as the sun began to set when BJ exited the stage. The crowd was packed together in anticipation for Ferg’s arrival. Finally, it reached the point that every concert inevitably reaches, where so many people are squeezed together that the crush of humanity is felt in a way like no other. As a result, you inevitably lose your buzz and just get mad that the group of 6-foot-something athletes in front of you are blocking your view.

As I expected, the crowd was definitely different from Ferg’s normal fanbase, forcing him to cater his setlist to his more mainstream hits in order to engage the audience. And it worked. At one point, five girls hopped up on the shoulders of their taller friends until they were towering over the crowd. In what felt like a choreographed act, all of them flashed the stage as Campus Catholic Ministry looked on from the sidelines.

This year’s FEST excelled when it came to that other staple of any concert where the majority of the crowd is intoxicated: being endlessly pushed and shoved around by people that are always somehow bigger than you are. Additionally, I am lucky enough to be friends with some wonderful people who choose to live their lives as pacifists, which made the battle for our comfort – and honor – in the pit my sole responsibility. It’s a journalist’s job to serve the people, and fighting your peers who are shoving your friends around is the greatest thing you can do to serve the greater good… or something like that. Plus, the security officers on duty were much more preoccupied with the rowdier people in the crowd – and there were plenty – to care about what I was doing.

After I finished my shoving match, the concert began to wind down. Luckily, it ended with a bang, at least in my section of the crowd. As Ferg announced his final song of the night at 8:57 p.m., a male student came charging from the front of the crowd towards the back. As he ran, a look of sheer desperation in his eyes, he covered his mouth and then began vomiting. He splattered bile on some freshmen girls near me, much to their disgust. One of them, a true icon, casually began dancing before proceeding to wipe the throw-up off of her clothes onto an unwary concert goer nearby. A power move in the grandest of ways.

The exact second that the concert ended, it felt like the entire crowd left at once. In a mass exodus, repeated complaints were muttered including that “the concert was too short” and that “it wasn’t as good as expected.” So, in a final quintessential DePaul move to end the night, seemingly no one was pleased, just like after last year’s FEST (and likely next year’s).

I’m still looking forward to it, though.