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Monday, September 26, 2022

Lawntopia brought the funk — and more

Headlined by Duckwrth, and featuring local and student openers, this concert on the Quad was the ultimate springtime celebration

By ANGIE CUMMINGS — arts@theaggie.org

In case you somehow missed it, Lawntopia was an event put on by ASUCD Entertainment Council (EC) on Thursday, May 19, serving as spring quarter’s biggest show that highlights a variety of performers and school organizations — providing students with an exciting and free concert right on the Quad. 

 “This is the first one since covid […] the focus is definitely on the music and musicians,” said Vanessa Gonzalez, the assistant director of Entertainment Council and a fourth-year cinema and digital media major. “We try to get local artists and one big headliner. We also work to spotlight student orgs [organizations] and have activities for students to enjoy while the show’s going on.”

Due to the pandemic, the hunger for live entertainment is at an all-time high, and Lawntopia delivered on its promise to serve up a good time to the UC Davis student body. Put simply, “it’s a great opportunity to get outside and have fun,” said Caden Velasquez, a second-year international relations major who goes by stage name DJ Mellax and was one of the openers at the show. 

Right at 7 p.m., the show started with pulsing beats and exciting remixes by three opening DJs, two of them being current students and one a recent UC Davis graduate, followed by a local Sacramento singer, Yelly. The whole event was brought home by a lively set from the much-anticipated headliner Duckwrth. 

“We’ve had him [Duckwrth] in consideration for several months now; we were so excited that he agreed to come!” Gonzalez said. 

 The entirety of the East Quad was filled with students taking part in all that Lawntopia had to offer, including sitting on the grass and painting on vinyl records, chowing down on snacks from the food trucks parked alongside the grass and dancing to the electrifying music. It was an extremely joyful scene, only amplified by the perfect weather and greenery, something artists appreciated.

“The fact that it’s in the Quad, with all the trees around, it’s like the perfect venue,” said Gino Lacson, also known as GMunny, a managerial economics major who graduated this past winter quarter and was another one of the opening acts of the night.

The three opening DJs — DJ Homsy, DJ Mellax and GMunny — got everyone up and the energy high, with a wide variety of musical inspirations for their respective sets. 

“I started djing with Latin reggaeton and really got into house music and techno bass … I definitely have a large repertoire,” DJ Mellax said. 

GMunny described equally vast yet distinct musical influences: “I play house music … I’ll go into techno and I’ll find that in-between … I’ll do disco. I just try to keep it funky,” he said. 

By about 9 p.m. the whole crowd (myself included) was properly hyped-up and ready for Duckwrth to take the stage. With a small band of just a drummer and bassist, as well as his amazing backup singer Liv (who some might argue almost stole the show with her own charisma and talent based on cheers from the crowd), Duckwrth’s set felt as intimate as it could get with hundreds of people cheering from across the Quad. 

Just after the first song, there was a small pause in the show, as Duckwrth got the crowd to make space for a student who had passed out right in the front row — safety comes first, even at a concert. After the student was out of the crowd the party resumed, with an uninterrupted almost hour-long set that had everyone (safely) jumping, singing and dancing the whole time. 

“Feel free to shake your a**,” Duckwrth said partway through his set — an entirely understandable suggestion given the grooviness of the music booming across the Quad. After every song the crowd was begging for more, and at approximately the halfway point of the show, Liv (Duckwrth’s fantastic backup singer mentioned before) received a much-deserved several-minute long standing ovation. One student held up a phone with the words “you are carrying miss thing” which perhaps is what incited the extended cheers of admiration. 

Even though Duckwrth was not able to be interviewed for this coverage of his show through ASUCD EC (and did not respond to my request for a quote via my phone screen in the crowd), it truly felt like he was having just as much fun as everyone dancing to his music. After that performance, it’s likely he attracted some more regular listeners, or at the very least earned himself a spot on some playlists this summer.

Written by: Angie Cummings — arts@theaggie.org

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