FEST 2016: a success despite initial student disappointment

CHICAGO — The Neighborhood, T-Pain, and Karmin all performed for DePaul’s annual music festival, FEST, which was held on May 27 in the McGrath Arena instead of the normal location of the Quad, due to rain. Although it originally started as a small festival held on Wish Field, FEST is arguably the biggest event on campus each year as it is targeted towards the entire student body and only available to DePaul students.

Headliner The Neighborhood performing (DePaul FEST twitter account/ @DePaulFest)

Although the festival had to be moved indoors to the McGrath Arena this year due to rain, it did not discourage students from attending the event and taking advantage of what DePaul had to offer.

“I’m so happy I got to spend this last year at an institution that would hold such a wonderful event for its students and I can’t wait for the next three years here and to see what they bring out for next year’s FEST,” said freshman Hannah Duckworth on her first experience at the event.

The DePaul Activities Board, DAB, created a survey on November 4, 2015 in which students were able to cast a vote for who they wanted as a headliner and two supporting acts, which was advertised through their Facebook page and Twitter account. Some of the possible options this year included Rappers: Chance the Rapper, Fetty Wap and Travis Scott, as well as Indie artists OK GO and Naked and the Famous.

This year’s FEST survey generated a lot of excitement among the students and led to students campaigning for certain artists on Facebook and even in dorms as some students had posters in their windows saying “Chance for Fest”. There were several lead-up events to FEST, available through the DAB Spring calendar, such as the “FEST/After Hours Promo Party” in the Student Center and the “Battle of the Brands” competition, where the line-up for FEST was announced on May 3, 2016.

After the lineup was announced, there was some backlash to the announcement of the headliners on the DePaul class of 2019 Facebook page as well as Twitter after it was made public. Many students were angry that the unofficial favorite, Chance the Rapper, was not revealed to be the headliner and that one of the acts chosen, T-Pain, was not on the ballot according to some students. Many students were claiming that they would not be attending FEST due to this.

T-Pain Performing at FEST 2016 (Josh Leff/ The DePaulia)

However, in the days leading up to FEST many students went to the DePaul class Facebook pages trying to find a way to see if anyone was selling a ticket.

“I feel like there is a culture at DePaul of going to events for the people and not the event necessarily, so a lot of people ended up going to FEST despite being upset about the lineup for the party atmosphere and to be around friends,” sophomore Bennett Johnson said of the rush to get tickets despite complaints.

Despite the difficulty and complex nature of putting on a music festival, the FEST committee is a completely student run organization. The committee, like most organizations and clubs on campus, strongly relied on social media to promote the events leading up to FEST and the festival itself.

“On campus events are constantly going on so in order to get a good turnout you need to make an effort to make your event stand out from the rest. This effort means that every member of an organization’s e-board and committee are doing the most they they can to get people to attend their event. Repetition is key,” states Andrew Willett, newly elected Executive Vice President of Student Affairs for the 2016–2017 school year.

According to the Pew Research Center for Internet, Science and Tech, social media usage for university age students, the 18–29 age group, has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, rising from about 12% in 2005 to almost 90% by 2015. This growth means university students are most likely to be informed of news and events via social media now.

“The more shares you get the better. The more “Class of” Facebook pages you post in the better. The same can be said for residential hall pages and other DePaul affiliated pages,” Willett claims.
Paul Booth, an expert for DePaul on new media, social media, and technology claims, “I think that a University needs to be on social media in order to reach the student body — that is, to effectively communicate with its students, a University needs to use the same channels of communication. It won’t work to fax you the information since you probably don’t have a fax machine.”

With the increase of tensions on campus following the protests of the Milo Yiannopoulos talk, racial slurs painted on campus sidewalks, and debates on DePaul’s social media pages, it was important for FEST to be a successful event. Despite the heated environment surrounding the event and the challenges with the weather, FEST 2016 served as a temporary break from the tensions on campus for a few hours and students, such as Hannah Duckworth and Bennett Johnson, are excited to see the potential FEST has in the future years.

For more information on future FEST or DePaul Activities Board events follow them on twitter and Facebook @DAB_DePaul or @DePaulFEST

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