Despite early forecasts of rain—and even snow—crowds of students flocked onto South Lawn and Low Plaza this past Saturday for another year of Columbia’s student-run music festival, Bacchanal.
The unexpectedly sunny day saw Soul for Youth, St. Beauty, Kamaiyah, and Ty Dolla $ign all take the stage alongside guest rappers RJ, TeeCee4800, and YG.
Student opener Soul for Youth was the first band to perform. A 10-piece act blending elements of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, their sound had a dynamic quality that kept their set engaging for the students who decided to show up for the early hours of the festival. The majority of students in attendance, however, remained camped out on South Lawn, keeping the crowd near the stage relatively small for the festival’s opening hour.
R&B and soul duo St. Beauty followed the student openers. Incorporating slow love ballads, funk elements, and choreographed dance moves—all with the backdrop of a danceable rhythm—the band provided a carefully constructed performance that still managed to convey an appropriately laid-back attitude for the mid-festival crowd. Their set provided a good buffer for the more high-energy acts to come, offering some particularly touching moments when couples in the crowd took the band’s slower songs as an opportunity to take photos together.
After their performance ended, the crowd began filling in more as DJ Vision played songs between St. Beauty and Kamaiyah’s set. The day took a decidedly Californian turn as the DJ reminisced about his Los Angeles origins before playing tracks from West Coast royalty Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The crowd responded enthusiastically, and one girl waving a California flag eventually made it onto the stage.
Kamaiyah came on, continuing the California trend with talk of her native Oakland, but also bringing a new energy to the day, evident from her opening line, “Columbia University, what the fuck is happening.” While her set ran into some early technical difficulties with feedback issues on the mic, she quickly moved past this, working hard to engage the slowly growing audience with a confident attitude and crowd-pleasing call outs like, “Hands in the air if you’re drunk.” She received an assist from fellow West Coast rapper RJ, who performed alongside her and gave a brief, solo performance before giving her back the stage.
This set the stage for the day’s headliner, Ty Dolla $ign, who came on to a lively crowd—albeit one that never filled more than three fourths of the fenced-off concert area. Walking out to Kanye West’s “Waves,” wearing a Bad Brains trenchcoat and Ramones T-shirt, Ty Dolla $ign began a set that ran through much of his new album “Beach House 3” while also bringing out older hits like “Wavy,” “Brand New,” “Blasé,” and a nod to his work with other prospective Bacchanal headliner Post Malone, “Psycho.”
The performance still had a few odd moments, like Ty’s noticeably repetitive call, “Where are my ladies at?” and his DJ’s uncomfortably received advice that girlfriends take their boyfriends and “suck the soul out of his life” after the show. Still, the crowd remained enthusiastic throughout the set, becoming especially excited at Ty and guest rapper YG’s performance of “Ex.”
Both for those students that stayed on the more relaxed South Lawn, and those that pushed their way to the front rows of the crowd, Bacchanal succeeded in bringing a fun atmosphere to Columbia for the day, giving the student body a useful respite as it goes into the last few weeks of spring semester.