The annual Spring Concert, hosted by the University Programming Council, takes the Mullins Center stage on Sunday with a packed lineup of artists and plenty of tickets still available.
B.o.B., Pretty Lights and 3OH!3 co-headline the show which is not even close to being sold out, likely due to the cost of tickets for UMass students.
B.o.B., otherwise known as Bobby Ray, was a little-known lyricist in the mainstream media prior to performing at the 2010 Welcome Back Concert on Jan. 22, 2010 in the UMass Fine Arts Center
“I’m sure that some people did know of him. I, unfortunately, didn’t and I don’t think a lot of people in UPC did. I remember people being like, ‘Who is this, “Bob?” What are we calling him?’ It was an odd thing,” said Brianne Niego, president of the UPC.
After inviting him to play at the 2010 Welcome Back Concert, the University Programming Council found out the difference a year can make in a musical artist’s career when they enlisted him to play at this year’s Spring Concert.
“B.o.B. had no songs on the radio and we wanted Ryan Leslie at [last year’s] Welcome Back Concert, but B.o.B. was a package deal. No one had heard of B.o.B. We were trying to get them separated; we didn’t want him to come… Then, he put on an amazing show and a month later had his breakout single,” Niego said.
Though unlikely that his set at the 2010 Welcome Back Concert was the turning point in his career, it did provide a segue to the release of his first two breakout singles which launched him into the stratosphere of mainstream popular success.
His first single, “Nothin’ on You” featuring Bruno Mars, released on March 21, 2010, went to number one on the pop charts in three countries (United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands).
Next, he dropped “Airplanes” (featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore) less than a month later, further lifting the artist from obscurity to popularity.
The rapid success of his singles spurred his first album, “The Adventures of Bobby Ray,” to be released early by his record company Grand Hustle, an affiliate of Atlantic Records.
Originally Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., B.o.B. has his roots in Decatur, Ga. Before collaborating with artists like Eminem, T.I., and Lupe Fiasco, a 14-year-old B.o.B. was filling notebooks with rhymes inspired by DMX and Andre 3000 and producing beats on a computer program called Fruity Loops to flow over.
He was signed to Atlantic Records at the ripe age of 17, after gaining buzz in the southern-underground hip-hop scene from his song “Haterz Everywhere” featuring rapper Rich Boy and gaining recognition from his work mixing and producing.
With a prose of positive rhymes and a practiced guitar-picking routine, the prognosis for his performance is that it will display the multi-faceted musician’s range.
As the title of his most notable mixtape suggests (B.o.B. vs. Bobby Ray), B.o.B. has a mild case of musical schizophrenia. At times, he feels compelled to prowl on stage spitting rhymes with a down-South drawl and at others he is humbly harmonizing with the help of a back-up band.
Mr. Bobby, and his split personalities, will be positioned between 3Oh!3 and Pretty Lights in the show’s lineup.
Closing the concert will be Pretty Lights, with plans to captivate the crowd with a colorful concoction of beats of its own creation.
DJ/Producer Derek Vincent Smith, 23, originates from Denver, Co., and is the creative force behind Pretty Lights, deemed as an “electrohiphopsoul” act. His fervor for making beats in college led him to pursue the craft full-time.
Smith attended the University of Colorado at Boulder following high school, but dropped out after his freshman year in 2001 when he found he was spending more time making beats than making class.
Inspired by the production of DJ Shadow, Pretty Lights has taken its “multimedia” show on tour to mainstream festivals like Bonnaroo and Camp Bisco, garnering a fan-following primarily from his website which offers all of his music for free.
Pretty Lights will close Sunday’s show, in part, because of the mass of sound and light equipment used to enhance its performances. Aside from the dance-inspiring rave hits being spun, Pretty Lights’ shows offer an engaging light display that inspires spectators to experience visually the same effervescent energy that the eclectic-electronic music exudes audibly.
3OH!3 who, like Pretty Lights, bring high-energy electronica music with them from the West Coast, will also be on the bill for Sunday’s show.
The duo of Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte began producing hyper-electronic pop beats and lyrics in their respective parents’ basements in Boulder, Co., (area code 303, hence the name) before creating their first album in 2007.
3OH!3 is probably best known for its song “Don’t Trust Me” off of its second album “Want” released in 2008.
“Streets of Gold,” 3OH!3’s latest album released in 2010, reached as high as No. 7 on the US Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic charts. The group collaborated with Ke$ha on the song “My First Goodbye” and with Katy Perry on the song “Starstrukk.”
While the two pop vixens won’t be joining 3OH!3 on Sunday, UMass-bred group Kids on a Hill will be, after winning this year’s Battle of the Bands competition on March 21.
The jazz/funk-inspired 10-some will perform a mix of classic funk covers and upbeat original compositions.
DJ Desert Storm will pace the show, spinning an authentic mix of house beats, earning a spot on the bill by winning the DJ Wars competition on April 7.
Tickets for the concert will be sold through the beginning of the concert based on their availability. Through Wednesday, 2,502 tickets have been sold, leaving the Mullins Center well under its capacity (approximately 7,000 patrons).
Tickets are available to UMass students ($10 per ticket, one per student) and Five-College students ($15 per ticket, one per student) at a discount and to the general public for the full price ($40 per ticket). Doors open at 5 p.m.
Dan Gigliotti can be reached at [email protected]