More than the music: Fall WILD recap
After a particularly tumultuous lead-up and some ominous afternoon rain clouds, this year’s fall WILD stubbornly opened its doors Friday night to crowds of students.
Since the announcement of Lil Dicky as Social Programming Board’s headliner choice in mid-September, there has been significant pushback from the student body. Some students used the announcement to call for more transparency in SPB’s process, including instituting elections and releasing survey results. Others called out the racist aspects of the artist’s lyrics and interviews. After the cancellation of last year’s first semester concert due to the presidential debate hosted on campus, it seems as though fall WILD is getting consistent bad press.
However, the mood was high as the night began with an amazing set from alternative hip-hop performer Lizzo. After exploding onto stage with her new single “Fitness*,” Lizzo quickly became one of the funniest and most dynamic personalities to grace the WILD stage. She spoke to the crowd between almost every song—forgoing the usual canned proclamations aimed at audiences for far more realistic sentiments. After her proclaimed “self-love” section of the show, she told the crowd “I hope everyone is having a good time—if not, too bad, y’all already paid me!”
Before her last song, Lizzo began talking to her audience again, this time while taking a quick snack of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. After sharing some of her bag with the audience, she asked the front row if anyone could help her sing her next song. A particularly enthusiastic freshman was brought up onstage and given a mic, only to quickly be outed for knowing none of the music and was escorted back offstage. With one bizarre event after another, Lizzo eventually finished her set in earnest, receiving a huge crowd response as she wrapped up her WILD performance.
Shortly after Lizzo left the Brookings Quadrangle stage, a protest dubbed “Black WILD” began. Protest leaders gathered under the Brookings archway and chanted “Black Voices Matter” until a crowd had gathered. The demonstrators slowly left Brooking’s Quad as the music from the stage shut off for the duration of the walk out.
The walk out culminated in an alternative music event in Bowles Plaza. Student leader Taylor Harris said in a written statement, “I am so incredibly proud of those members of the [Washington University] community who stood in solidarity with the voices that need them the most. The sheer number of allies who stood in support of those of us who felt marginalized and hurt by SPB’s and Wash. U.’s decision to host a problematic, racially and sexually insensitive artist should be a wake-up call to the University and its constituents.”
However, after an uninspired set by A R I Z O N A, Lil Dicky did still take the stage. While there was still significant student presence, it seemed attendance was slightly lacking, with only a moderately full mosh pit for most of the performance. While the rapper’s set was adequate, his music’s comedic elements were lost in the context of a live routine. Accompanied by a DJ and another rapper/hypeman (who took on the numerous guest spots in Lil Dicky’s discography), Dicky still lacked stage presence, especially in comparison to Lizzo.
After failing to play one of his most popular songs, “Ex-Boyfriend,” Dicky did briefly address the controversy surrounding his campus visit. He told this crowd that he “loved everybody” and apologized if he had ever made anyone feel as if he did not. However, this sentiment fell between asking his audience whether or not he should pull out his “lil’ dicky;” so, the statement lost some its supposed sincerity.
While in many ways, this was just another WILD (the pizza was just as lukewarm as ever, and the port-a-potties are still where you will inevitably lose your friends), the concerns that arose from the way this particular event have been handled and hopefully will lead to changes in the quintessential Wash. U. WILD. We may not be in for a new kind of concert in the spring, but here’s hoping the next artist brought to campus will at least have a better stage name.
Click here to view WILD photos.