Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Flo Rida takes the Mullins Center by storm at UPC’s 2024 Spring Concert

Steve Aoki, Bia and more round out this year’s stellar lineup
Shilpa Sweth

Anyone who walked down Commonwealth Avenue last Sunday would have seen a large sign outside the Mullins Center, warning students entering the arena that sheet cakes would be thrown into the crowd. Those unfamiliar with the event taking place that night might have been confused, yet hundreds of students had been anticipating this very moment for weeks with hopes of getting nailed in the face by a cake.

The end of the school year at the University of Massachusetts comes with a celebration attended by thousands of students: UPC’s Spring Concert. Every year the student-run organization invites some of the biggest names in music to headline the event at the Mullins Center, which have included Jack Harlow and Don Toliver in previous years. This year, the concert featured a star-studded lineup made up of Bia, Steve Aoki, Oya Baby and headliner Flo Rida. The performers took the stage last week on April 28.

Flo Rida was announced as the headliner earlier in March, after UPC sent out a survey asking students which artists they would like to see at the concert. Steve Aoki and Bia were announced soon after as the openers. Flo Rida and Steve Aoki, being two of the most important figures in their respective genres of music, naturally attracted a lot of attention to the event. Furthermore, Flo Rida had just been coming off a year of renewed interest, due in part to the virality of his song “Whistle” on TikTok in 2023.

Prior to the Spring Concert, UPC also hosted their annual iteration of UMass Got Talent, in which 10 student acts competed for a chance to feature as the student opening act for Flo Rida. This year’s winners were the UMass Stage Crew Dance Team, a contemporary, jazz and hip-hop dance group. The winners were the first to appear at the concert, performing a 15 minute set composed of a medley of popular songs.

Medford’s own Bia took the stage next, returning to her home state of Massachusetts to rap at the state university’s flagship campus. Backed by two backup dancers who playfully matched her energy, she introduced the crowd to her signature catchphrase by signing every song with her silky-smooth delivery of “Bia Bia.” She invited two students from the crowd to show off their dance skills, and even performed an unreleased song that featured rapper Lil Yachty.

Following the rest period between sets, a roar of approval came from the audience when the screen on stage flashed another warning about sheet cakes being thrown into the crowd. This confirmed that the much-anticipated EDM set performed by Steve Aoki was about to begin, and the opportunity to be the target of one of Aoki’s signature, pin-point accurate cake throws was closer than ever before. The hype for Aoki’s set engulfed the entire stadium, most forgetting that Aoki wasn’t even supposed to be the night’s main event.

Aoki performed in front of a screen playing a loop of graphics matching the vibes of every song. He played many remixes of popular songs, including “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee, “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo, “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift and “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. He also performed his newest song, “3 Days” featuring Kalan.FrFr, introducing the crowd to the lyrics so he could record a portion of the song’s music video on stage. The DJ rounded out the set with a performance of the theme song of the internationally acclaimed anime “Demon Slayer,” playing the show’s breathtaking animation on the screen behind him.

Towards the end of his set, Aoki was joined on stage by crew members  holding sheet cakes ready to be hurled at the students. At this point, students on the floor began holding up signs saying “cake me,” and some even climbed on the shoulders of their friends. Aoki began to launch cakes into the crowd, sniping students in the face with the same accuracy he showcases at his massive, sold-out festival performances. Those students who were hit by cakes could be seen walking the halls of the Mullins Center after the set, covered in vanilla frosting.

The next set scheduled was Flo Rida, looking to match the level of crowd work Aoki showcased moments before. However, before he took the stage, the stadium was surprised with the introduction of Flo’s special guest joining his set, newcomer Oya Baby.

In an interview before the concert, Oya Baby, who began her musical career as a backup dancer for Flo Rida, spoke about her expectations for performing at the concert that night.

“I had always heard about UMass and its crowds,” Oya Baby said. “College shows are the best shows. College kids have amazing energy.”

Oya Baby, from Miami, Florida, described her music as a “spicy Latin fusion with hip-hop.” Before being joined on stage by Flo Rida, she performed her newest song, “Sugar Daddy” with El Alfa and Alex Sensation.

After introducing Oya Baby, Flo Rida finally took the stage with his hit song, “Right Round.” At first, his set had some unfortunate technical difficulties. The volume of Flo’s mic was much lower than that of Oya Baby’s and he accidentally got hit in the face by an unexpected blast of smoke from one of the smoke machines during the first song. Flo also kept going backstage to take shots between songs at the beginning of his set. However, these hiccups were fixed quickly, and Flo began to work with the crowd to bring the hype back up, throwing dollar bills into the pit.

Oya Baby joined Flo for most of his set, helping him interact with the crowd. Their synergy together was extremely fun to watch, built up through years of performing together. Flo’s set was filled with his most popular songs, including all-time classics like “Low,” “Where Them Girls At,” “Club Can’t Handle Me,” “My House” and “Whistle.” Throughout the performance, Flo made frequent trips into the crowd on the shoulders of his bodyguard, interacting with students in the pit and in the stands.

Flo Rida’s level of crowd work and selection of iconic songs proved the perfect mix to get the crowd at Mullins Center the loudest I have ever heard it. Seeing as most students in attendance grew up listening to Flo Rida, he was able to capitalize on this nostalgia, proving that he was the perfect choice to headline the event.

2024’s Spring Concert was the best iteration of the event in years, completely overshadowing the versions headlined by Jack Harlow and Don Toliver in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Bia, Steve Aoki and Flo Rida performed stellar sets, and newcomer Oya Baby’s introduction and energy added the extra flair that made this lineup, and show, fantastic.

Gustavo Atencio Flores can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *