On Saturday, more than 10,000 new and returning students poured into Farrand Field for CU’s annual welcome back concert.
At 85 degrees, the concert seemed more like a midsummer party than a back-to-school celebration, especially with the red and white Rooster beach balls bouncing around the crowd. The warm summer afternoon soon faded into a solid night. While lightning flickered in the distant sky, no thunder was to be heard over the omnipresent bass of Big Gigantic, Paper Diamond, Robotic Pirate Monkey and Common Ties.
Donning yellow wristbands, the incoming students seemed ready to defend CU’s reputation as the nation’s number one party school. One student who came running from the crowd was so inebriated, that he plopped down on Farrand Field’s plush grass and immediately fell asleep. CU’s medical staff rescued him from his slumber mere minutes later.
As other students made out, one not-so-lucky couple found themselves surrounded by three security guards telling them to take a breather. Most chilled on the lawn or meandered among the sponsored tents and grabbed up free schwag from sponsors like The Rooster, Del Taco and Boulder Beats.
A crowd gathered in front of the stage to watch Robotic Pirate Monkey, consisting of three former CU Boulder students all behind turntables. They began their set with a dub version of Bob Marley’s “Mr. Brown” and eased into some wobbly funky sounds.
As the set wore on, they shifted to harder dubstep, but kept a consistent fidget beat throughout, continually scratching and rewinding a few beats backwards. Their party-like presence distracted from their unpolished sound, and they stood behind their track selections with pride as they shoulder-banged the whole set through.
They asked the crowd how many were freshmen, and the crowd chimed back, “Yee!” Robotic Pirate Monkey covered a lot of ground, mixing in electro, dubstep, reggae, hip hop and rock. Their most popular track, “Jolene,” has an excellent party dubstep bass line, but their live remix left much to be desired. The poor vocal sample was chopped to death, sounding like a stutter at best: “jo-jo-jo-jo-jojojojojojojojojo-jolene.” They closed their set with an electro dub remix of Eiffel 65’s “Blue.”
Next, Paper Diamond took to the stage with a bigger sound and stuck to hip hop influenced beats.
He played all original material, mostly without lyrics except for remixes featuring the likes of Chris Brown and SBTRKT. More students trickled into the field and flocked to the stage. Paper Diamond had a cute stage presence, dancing back and forth, but his music can sometimes seem monotonous. At one point his material even sounded identical to German house artist Bok Bok.
Ultimately Paper Diamond knew how to please his home state revelers — by dropping that chainsaws raining from the sky, dubstep breakdown. He proceeded at full speed with Skrillex-like drops, and sure enough, a familiar skunky scent filled the air as a gesture of approval. Paired with a moment of female vocal bliss and assorted rave-y sounds, Paper Diamond had a perfected crowd-pleasing formula.
As the night wore on, more and more light shows abounded throughout the crowd. Big Gigantic, also from Boulder, headlined CU’s welcome fest concert. They welcomed the new students and didn’t need to give returning students any sort of introduction. Big Gigantic, or Big G, is a livetronica outfit, a local favorite that combines live saxophone and live drums with electronic synthesizers and dubby bass.
Unsurprisingly, the crowd responded particularly well to the grimy dubstep breakdowns and waved their hands to the beat in the air, as wild dancing finished off the night.