On Friday April 21, 2023, the University of Maine kicked off the end of the school year festivities with their annual Maine Event concert at Hilltop lot. This year’s performer was Rapper Freddie Gibbs with special guest Money Man.With a full stage and security service, the typical Maine Event entertainment has a lot of effort that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the show runs smoothly. The crowd was a decent size but did not have the diversity in students that music typically strives to bring. If the concert is supposed to signify the mood of the end of the semester, then it is going to be a lacklustre conclusion.
The Maine Event is put on by student government at the end of spring semester, by means of the activity fee.
“The activity fee is a $68 fee that is part of students’ tuition, of which UMSG receives $53 after a portion is used to fund other on-campus entities, such as the Maine Campus. This fee is used to fund clubs and club sports on campus and fund student advocacy on campus, as well as fund Student Entertainment. Additionally, the fee is used to give students access to legal advice from our on-staff attorney.” Said Owen Hebda, a third year senior. His job is to plan activities for the student body.
Many students inquired about the Maine Event since the artist was released in early April. Last year’s performance by Jack Harlow featuring Grandson and Waka Flocka Flame, which brought the Maine Event back from the depths of the pandemic, was worth remembering. A lot of people were impressed with the production and the acclaim that came with the performance. Harlow was a name that a lot of UMaine students recognized and knew at least one or two songs from the Harlow library that they could sing along and dance to. Gibbs was a different story.
“The Maine Event is one of our longest running events and by far the largest entirely student-run event on campus. Previous performers include J. Cole, Ludacris, Brantley Gilbert, Capital Cities, Lupe Fiasco, Action Bronson, Pretty Lights, and Janelle Monae.” Hebda Said.
As much as rap is very popular among the college demographic, it comes with some road bumps. Rap tends to attract a specific demographic: mainly people who listen to rap religiously. Earlier in the year, there were mini concerts that were held on the first Friday of every month that featured local bands. But according to Hebda, this was soon scraped
“We were interested in this, but the turnout at several events involving local bands earlier in the year wasn’t what we hoped for and dissuaded us from following this path. One thing we did struggle with was finding ways to get students involved post-covid. As I am graduating, I am no longer eligible to continue in this position and don’t have any further plans. That’s entirely up to next year’s VPSE.” Hebda said. “Students can come to our offices, located in the back of the Wade Center. We have staff and students on hand that will be able to steer them towards involvement.”
It was definitely the only time at UMaine where I was introduced to people I had no clue went to the school and had never seen before in my life. The people that were recognizable were few and far between. Responses from students about the artist were very similar; they have never heard of them. Likewise, some students were unaware of the concert since its publicity was centralized on social media. This ultimately affected the attendance.
It is hard for those who don’t know the artist to sing along or dance to the music. It inevitably results in audience members standing still with some head bobs here and there or resorting to going on their phone, which is not the purpose of a concert. This unfortunately happened during the Gibbs and Money Man concert. It eventually got to the point where the artist was trying to engage the audience members by clapping along with the song or raising their hands.
“I think we hit a pretty good amount of students. Students seemed to enjoy last year’s concert and I feel that Freddie Gibbs did a great job of getting the crowd involved and excited.” Hebda said.
There was the occasional circle in the crowd that was formed and eventually turned into a rather disappointing mosh pit. But rap is not the best genre to mosh to, and there were some interesting looks from those who were most definitely annoyed by the whole affair. The beats were inconsistent and disrupted the moshing rhythm. Dancing ultimately returned to a “cool” arm thrust with the occasional step in the foot that I could only describe as self-conscious dancing. This was also the same result when one audience member decided to crowd surf and there were some people who were not having it.
Besides the disinterested response from the audience, the performance was not bad. Money Man was not the best opener, but he got to share his music with more people that might be interested in what he has to say. Gibbs had some interesting songs that could be made out from the mumble rap. There was some meaning behind the lyrics, but it would be best heard over headphones for its meaning to truly hit home. It was still fun to be at a concert and be with people you know and introduce yourself to the people you don’t know. After all, it is a place to forget your worries and indulge in entertainment.
It was discussed, however, that people would much rather have listened to a good DJ who could spin tracks more recognizable and easier to dance to. Rap music has this stigma surrounding it that many of its listeners respect and wish to see in concert, but rap tends to fall flat with those who are uninterested in it. But it may be that the Maine Event helps these lesser-known artists extend their outreach to the massive college demographic who can help them become more popular in the mainstream media. With that being said, it might be time for the Maine Event to take a break from rap and feature a band or a pop artist.
To kick off a day of service, the indifferent Maine Day Week will take place from April 24. to April 28. climaxing on April 26. with the traditional Maine Day. Many student organizations will do their part to give back to the community and the campus, with many festivities and hopefully less partying. From there, it’s summer and/or graduation for some. Hopefully it will be a worthwhile experience for students who choose to participate.
“I would like to thank everyone who volunteered and attended the concert and wish everyone a great rest of the year.” Hebda said.