Fall Flex 2019: A first timer’s take

November 15, 2019

“Sold out” are the words that first caught my eye by the ticket booth in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC). Fall Flex, sold out? Our expensive tuition gets us free concerts? It must be a really big deal here. It must be a really good time! Wow, Brandeis is so cool. 

For those that don’t know me, I recently transferred to Brandeis and had only seen the multitude of posters and signs on the BranVan for this Fall Flex thing. I paid little attention to it and brushed off the idea that there was an actual free concert at school. However, upon arriving at Levin Ballroom for the overly publicized event, I found it bizarre that the room was barely halfway filled, even when the crowd was at its biggest. For most professional concerts and shows, “sold out” is typically an indication that the experience will be worthwhile, and artists were popular enough that there were no tickets left. But in apparent Brandeis fashion, the turnout was much more downplayed than anticipated (or so I’ve been told). While Fall Flex featured prominent mainstream artists like Social House, Sage the Gemini and Cash Cash, the performers seemed to have difficulty getting the crowd to meet their energy levels.

The opening set was led by a student, DJ Ekenomics, who won a competition for the stage time and played popular bops of the last couple years like “Caroline” and “Lemon.” Blasting music overpowered the constant chatter amongst Brandeisians waiting for their show. The energy was so low that I spotted a group of girls sitting on the ground in a circle on their phones. A true testament of our era. 

Despite the lack of bodies in the room, the energy was a dim light that eventually grew to a roaring glow by the time Social House entered the stage. Purple lights enveloped the audience’s faces. and the music bounced across the walls. The atmosphere was (finally) lively, contrasted by the security teams’ stern faces. 

Dialogue between the performers and the audience never ceases to amaze me, and that night was no different—Social House, the dynamic duo of Mikey Foster and Scootie Anderson, apparently heard Brandeis was “lit” (I do not know where they got this impression or if they were just trying to energize us) and began to say how much they “f*ck with us,” infecting the crowd with some real spirit. The two then prepped the audience for each song by asking questions. “How many of y’all are in a relationship; raise ya hand!” Mikey yelled, and then proceeded to play “Boyfriend” ft. Ariana Grande. There’s something special about the way a concert turns persons into people as we all sang “Magic in the Hamptons” as one with Social House. Dedicated fans must have reveled most in the snippets where not only a select few knew the lyrics and the entire sea of students were singing along to the jam (and the encore). It was easy to get lost in these moments, dancing along with the person next to me (who didn’t know my name until halfway through the show). 

In spite of these glorious moments, when I wished songs were endless, the spectacle did feel underwhelming at times, like when Sage the Gemini began performing his lesser known songs before his recent hit, “Red Nose.” Sage announced to us that he wasn’t feeling we were hyped enough, so he went straight to “Red Nose.” The track was successful in alleviating the lull after Social House, and the crowd seemed to be in good spirits as favorites like “Gas Pedal,” “Now and Later,” “No Ex’s” and “GDFR” were performed. After his set, Sage jumped down to greet the crowd (I was granted the honor of shaking his sweaty hands and squeezed in a selfie). Both Social House and Sage asked the audience to take out their phone flashlights and light up the room by the end of their sets, which was a perfect setup for a dreamy goodbye.

After Sage the Gemini finished his set, and Cash Cash came on, it seemed that more than half of the crowd had vanished. Perhaps EDM wasn’t their style of music, or they had to get to sleep before their Monday morning classes. The music pounded its way into my chest—I didn’t know if I was feeling my heartbeat or the sound of the bass. The vibrating EDM called for glow sticks that people waved as they crashed into each other after a beat dropped. Cash Cash’s set was least interesting to me, (despite playing bops like “Take Me Home” and “Finest Hour”) either because I was sober or just not a huge fan of EDM (probably both). 

The highlight of Cash Cash’s set was a second of silence right before they dropped the beat where this one guy yelled, “I HAVE A MIDTERM TOMORROW!” while headbanging—to which I responded, “ME TOO!”—and that was the end of that conversation. Vivacious and relentless, Cash Cash did not let the lack of a full crowd deter their music, if anything this seemed to give them more motivation to hype up those who were left. The people that did decide to stay seemed to be having a superb time, jumping and bouncing to the beats until they were exhausted. Overall, the lack of people didn’t ruin the experience; a private, intimate campus concert that had me sold that this was a night well spent. I think I might get a ticket next year, and actually go, too.

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