Big Sean, Cobra Starship to headline Spring Concert

By Araz Havan

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The Spring Concert, featuring some major headlining acts, is just around the corner.

On Sunday, the Mullins Center will host performances from Big Sean, Cobra Starship, Tyga, B. Smyth and Reel Big Fish as part of the annual Spring Concert organized by the University Programming Council (UPC), which has been planning the show since last summer.

The student population is involved in the voting process to decide which artists will perform, but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that students don’t know about.

According to UPC President Annie Oakman, the planning for Spring Concert begins the summer before it occurs as it puts together a list of artists that are both available and in a price range that the school can afford. UPC sends the list to its executive board, advisors and the University booking agent for a preliminary approval of the performers they chose for consideration.

Once that list is refined, UPC then looks to the students for input. Feedback from students is key to generating the lineup for the concert, Oakman said. This year, UPC had two rounds of voting on Campus Pulse, the first of which was to assess what genre students wanted for the concert. From the options, which included country, rap and rock, the results came out with rap at the top, “as it always does,” Oakman said. When the list of artists was further narrowed down, the second round determined who the students were most excited to see out of a pool of 35 artists.

All voting was done through Campus Pulse, which hasn’t seemed to connect with much of the student body at UMass yet, Oakman said. She said UPC tries to advertise for it, but many people still are not aware of its existence or use.

“It’s tough to pick someone everyone would like with only 3,000 votes,” said Gabby Rossi, an executive board member at UPC.

Considering the total number of students at UMass, this is a small portion of the population, but to get a wider variety of music and appeal to as many students as possible, UPC added Cobra Starship and Reel Big Fish to the lineup to balance out rap acts Big Sean and Tyga.

Big Sean, the top billing artist at this year’s Spring Concert, got his start when Kanye West signed him to his G.O.O.D. Music label. In 2011, his debut album “Finally Famous” was well received and earned a nomination for CD of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards. “Hall of Fame,” his second studio album slated for release in June, features his single “Guap.”  His involvement on tracks like “Mercy” and “Clique” has also helped increase his popularity and visibility.

Dance-pop band Cobra Starship broke out with its single “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It),” from its 2006 debut album “While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets,” which was on the soundtrack for the movie “Snakes on a Plane.”

The band’s second album “¡Viva Le Cobra” was released in 2007. Though an upbeat pop album that is as silly as it is catchy, it wasn’t as popular as its follow-up “Hot Mess,” which came out two years later. The single from that album, “Good Girls Go Bad,” featuring Leighton Meester, peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 100. Cobra Starship’s most recent album, “Night Shades,” features the single “You Make Me Feel…” featuring Sabi.

Tyga, who will be joined by B. Smyth, boasts hits “Rack City” – which reached platinum status – and “Faded” under his belt. Both are from his second album, “Careless World: Rise of the Last King.” “Hotel California,” released on April 9, is his third album, which has 1990’s West Coast style hip-hop influences. B. Smyth’s most recent release is “Leggo” featuring 2 Chainz.

Ska band Reel Big Fish, whose 1997 song “Sell Out” was its most popular, will also share the stage. Since the 1990’s, its lineup has changed considerably, with only its front man Aaron Barrett as an original member. Currently independent from any major label, the band released “Candy Coated Fury” in 2012 and will be showcased on the Warped Tour this summer.

Doors for the show open at 5 p.m. and Battle of the Bands winner Bootystank will warm up the stage at 6 p.m., and will be followed by Reel Big Fish, B. Smyth, Tyga, Cobra Starship and Big Sean.

Tickets are $10 for UMass students with a student ID, $25 for Five College students and $45 for all other patrons.

Araz Havan can be reached at [email protected].