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Springfest 2021 was like a virtual mosh pit, minus the sweat

Charli XCX always puts on a stellar show, even from the comfort of her living room. As the headliner for this year’s Springfest, Charli utilized all the elements available to her, from lighting to camera work to choreography. 

This year, Springfest was completely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Campus Activities Board (CAB) brought five acts to the (Zoom) stage this weekend: YaGirlTam, Miranda Rae, Notebook P, DVSN and, of course, Charli XCX. The concert was three hours long, with time allotted for intermissions and Q&As. The concerts were hosted by Oompa, an absolute legend who kept the audience engaged and excited, even though she couldn’t see us.

YaGirlTam, aka Tamara Tarwoe ’21, opened the show and perfectly set the mood. She looked absolutely stunning in a matching dress and gloves set. She performed her two original songs, both of which are available on Spotify. I loved her first song “Coming In Hot” so much that I added it to one of my playlists. Her performance was full of energy and fun and all around good vibes. She’s a fantastic rapper and matched the hype expected of Springfest. 

After YaGirlTam was Mirande Rae, followed by Notebook P, both R&B artists. Mirande Rae performed four songs, each smooth and soulful. Her voice was absolutely beautiful. Notebook P seemed like he wasn’t having the best night. The girls set the bar really high, and his voice was really pitchy throughout his setlist. To be fair, this might just be a consequence of performing over Zoom and not a reflection of his talents, but it was disappointing to see. 

It was also strange to have these two acts right after each other, or at least right after YaGirlTam. She brought the hype and energy, and the next two performers brought the mood back down to a mellow vibe. Sure, they were good, but I felt like I was having a lazy Sunday instead of getting ready for a hyperpop show. 

Up fourth was DVSN, an R&B duo from Canada, opening with their hit “Too Deep.” Like Charli, DVSN utilized the environment, actually performing on a stage decked out with purple lighting. There was even a giant flickering neon division sign—in their signature purple of course. DVSN even had graphics to back up the performance! For “Nuh Time/Tek Time” the graphics changed from a purple division symbol to footage of a woman going about her day. Closing with “Hallucinations,” the performance was solid from start to finish. There were a couple technical issues with the audio, but it was as good as it could be over Zoom. DVSN clearly made an effort and it paid off!

Finally, after an hour and a half of anticipation, Miss XCX came to the stage. Her first song was “Spinning,” her new collaboration with the 1975. It seems like Charli forgot how to design setlists after not touring for so long. She followed it with “I Love It,” her smash hit with Icona Pop, but then let the energy die by playing “Gone,” her collab with Christine and the Queens, right after. I would’ve loved to see some actual Charli in her setlist, but six of her nine songs were collaborations. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still lost it when “Blame It On Your Love” and “Unlock It” came on, but I wanted more of that pure Charli sound. 

The entire Zoom call rioted when Charli announced she was closing with “Boom Clap.” It was the ninth song, making this a puny setlist that eliminates her best song “Vroom Vroom.” The chat flooded with comments, pleading for her to play her best track. 

It’s not that “Boom Clap” isn’t a fitting closer, it’s that it came at the expense of some of her best work. It makes sense to choose this song, though, as it’s her most popular song. You may remember it from “The Fault In Our Stars” soundtrack; the chat certainly did. The beauty of having Springfest on Zoom is that there was a chat for the participants. It’s like being able to chat with everyone in a mosh pit at once, but without the sweat flying everywhere. When “Boom Clap” started, everyone took to flooding the chat with reminders about the soundtrack it’s on. I have never seen the name “John Green” spelled incorrectly that many times.

Also iconic in the chat were the conversations happening during the entirety of Charli’s performance. I saw “Glee” discourse, Swiftie slander (ouch, by the way), marriage proposals and generally chaotic comments. Honestly, it was a real highlight.

In between the mess, there were a couple people asking genuine questions. However, I don’t think anyone wanted a Q&A that was as long as the one we had. I think the Q&A went for about half an hour, but it felt like an eternity. No one wanted to accept that the show was over. Still, we all begged for “Vroom Vroom,” or, at the very least, a 10th song. I saw the setlist from her virtual show at Penn State University, and it was 13 songs. I know that Penn State probably has a larger budget, but I would’ve rather had more songs and a shorter Q&A. In fact, I would’ve sacrificed the entire Q&A if it meant getting to hear songs like “Claws” and “Break the Rules,” both of which were on the Penn State setlist. Why couldn’t we do that instead?

Springfest 2021 was pretty solid. It’s really hard to keep people engaged during virtual events, and the engagement and hype were through the roof for this year’s Springfest. Brandeis was practically buzzing with excitement. YaGirlTam proved herself to be a true icon and a fantastic rapper. Mirande Rae was a soulful stunner. Notebook P was the weakest of the bunch, but still far from bad. DVSN was all around groovy, and wearing the coolest jacket that I have ever seen. And, of course, Charli XCX was legendary. In the words of Charli herself, “um yes queen skinny legend versace boots the house down slay queen hunty mama and oop daddy work charli xcx snatch my wig!”

Editor’s Note: Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk is the Vice President of the Campus Activities Board and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.

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