It was a clear day for Summerlands festival–goers as classes ended and the three–day weekend approached. More than three thousand students lined up at the gate surrounding the main-stage in Aldrich Park as guests waited an hour to get in. With free tacos and “swag” being handed out, attendees brought all their excitement, curiosity and open minds to Friday night’s first annual Summerlands Festival.“We tried to make it into a music festival where it’s not catered to one genre,” Vivian Cheong, ASUCI Concerts Commissioner, stated. “Why don’t we make it something different like indie, alternative and also bring in the reggae music?”
As opposed to previous years’ annual Reggaefest, Summerlands featured a variety of opening acts from the reggae/ rock group BaseLine, the Irvine based indie/ pop band Breach the Summit and first-place Soulstice winner Dosk Crew.
“It’s really cool to share the stage with big names. It makes me feel like we’re actually getting somewhere,” Anh Nguyen of Dosk Crew mentioned.
With bigger artists such as indie/ rock band and UCI graduates Milo Greene, singer-songwriter and YouTube sensation Kina Grannis and popular 2000s rock band Relient K headlining the show, Summerlands welcomed guests from not only the student-body but from the outside community as well.“We had a couple friends come out that I noticed were in the front row,” Matt Hoopes, guitarist and backup vocalist for Relient K mentioned. “Some long-time fans figured out a way to get in here so I thought that was great.”
Five-person multi-instrumental act Milo Greene, often seen switching instruments and vocalists throughout performances, also took the time to reflect on their band’s fun during their undergraduate years at UCI.
“It’s a trip to be here and remember [when we] got to play this kind of thing,” Andrew Heringer of Milo Greene reflected. “We were back here and tripping out on these rock stars and, you know, it’s just funny to have it circle around.”
Many students boasted of Summerlands success as well.
Second-year Lauren Villegas said, “Summerlands is a good transition from Reggaefest. There’s lots of different genres and the crowd’s a really good turnout.”
Fourth-year student Andrew March also added, “I used to listen to Relient K in junior high, so it’s like reliving the good old days.” When asked on thoughts about this year’s new Summerlands event, he thought, “it’s great that UCI creates solidarity. It’s music everyone listens to and can relate to.”
With the event starting at 4 p.m., the energy of the crowd and number of guests continued to grow throughout the night.
As Milo Greene swooned to their drums, egg-shakers and tambourines while all equipping guitars, Kina Grannis then lent her sweet vocals to the rolling percussion and rhythmic guitar in her set.
“I’ve been listening to Kina for over five years and I found [her set] very elegant and delicate,” fourth-year student Mark Camacho said. “She found the perfect songs to play.”As hundreds of students lined up eagerly to meet Kina Grannis after her performance, some students sprawled out across the grass on top of blankets and backpacks. Others jumped and swayed to the power-driven rock tunes of Relient K.
As the performers waited by their merchandise to take pictures with fans, the line that stretched from the bottom to the top of the hill for Kina Grannis was incomparable.
With staff having shut down her meet-and-greet line early for the festival’s eight-o’clock closure, Grannis mentioned, “I played UCI once like seven years ago. It was like a 20-person show.” Laughing, she added, “It was before YouTube [and] my friend’s club had a thing, so it’s cool to be back and play a real show here.”
As the sun set and the darkness of the night started to take over the park, students rushed out to beat the crowds while performers packed up and met their last few fans.
“It’s my first time coming to this,” second-year student Julienne Ebora said. “I watched, I ate, and they gave out free stuff. I feel like Summerlands catered to a lot of people.”
This article was published in UC Irvine’s New University here.