Hip-hop artist Cee-Lo, Deerhoof and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra will perform at Spring Fling on Andrus Field Wednesday, May 4.
“It’s the biggest student event all year, so it’s generally a pretty good crowd,” said Social Committee [SC] president Alex Escamilla ’05, responsible for bringing the groups to campus. “We usually get 1500 to 2000 people to come.”
Cee-Lo, originally from Atlanta, Georgia, is best known as a member of LaFace Records, a.k.a Goodie Mob, and has recorded two solo LPs, including his latest, “Cee-Lo Green Is the Soul Machine.” Among Cee-Lo’s solo hits are the singles “Closet Freak” (2002) and “I’ll Be Around” (2003), produced by and featuring Timbaland.
A rapper and singer, Cee-Lo is known for his funk and soul styled singing voice in addition to his high-pitched rapping. He has appeared as a featured vocalist on songs by artists such as Common, Carlos Santana, OutKast, and Trick Daddy, and sang background vocals on TLC’s number one hit single “Waterfalls.” He is currently preparing to release a collaboration album with DJ Danger Mouse under the project name Gnarls Barkley, and he plans to tour several cities in California this May, in addition to a few locations in Florida and the southern East Coast.
“I think Cee-Lo is a fantastic performer,” said Brian Thorpe ’07. “He has great party songs and sick beats, and his lyrics are just a step above.”
In contrast, Deerhoof is an indie rock/ lo-fi, noise pop band from the San Francisco Bay area that has been together for nine years. According to Rolling Stone, “the quartet is a mixture of Ramshackle drums that splatter tempos with clangorous guitars that assail song structure [..] Rising from the din comes the dainty female voice of lead singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, with words reminiscent of a demented children’s tune.” The group’s sixth album, “Milk Man,” was released in 2004.
“The SC has a terribly tough time of trying to satisfy the entire campus,” Escamilla said. “[Spring Fling] is one of the only serious all campus events, so we have to appeal to as many people as possible. We had the possibility of two or three different bands lined up to come play, and [we felt] hip-hop acts are more liked universally while rock things are more of a niche on campus.”
The third artist is Brooklyn-based Antibalas, which means “anti-bullets” or “bullet-proof.” This thirteen-member orchestra of unabashed political conviction combines highlife, jazz, funk, and traditional African rhythms with furious lyrics in English, Yoruba, and Spanish, according to their website. This genre, formally known as Afrobeat, is a term created by the movement of the late Nigerian singer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
“We do look for continuous quality between bands,” Escamilla said. “[Cee-Lo and Deerhoof] are both really upbeat bands that still lay down serious dance beats; it’s something we see as a connection, although there’s other things we have to keep in mind.”
Of those things, cost plays a large role. Although the actual performers’ fees take up the majority of funds, about 30 percent of the Spring Fling budget goes into logistics.
For the location on Andrus field, a staff, stage, generator, and high-quality sound system are all necessary, in addition to a campus-wide BBQ put on at the request of the Administration.
The SC budget every year for Winter Carnival and Spring Fling is contingent on the SBC. This year they were allotted about $10,000 for Winter Carnival and $30,000 for Spring Fling.
“We tell the SBC who we want to bring, and depending on how excited they are [about the bands], they tell us how much they want to give us,” said SC member Josh Scannell ’08.
The Social Committee has been debating getting rid of Winter Carnival due to a variety of factors. One would be because the SC does not receive funding from the SBC for the Winter Carnival until late in the semester, which Escamilla said makes it difficult for them to organize the event.
Capacity has also been an issue; the 2004 Winter Carnival in December featuring Jean Grae and Mates of State was held at Eclectic, which only has a capacity of 300.
“I’m a proponent for putting more money into Spring Fling, at least until Wesleyan comes up with an indoor venue that will house the entire Wesleyan population,” Escamilla said.
The decision for next year will be largely dependent on a poll the WSA plans to release, which will ask students who they want to see at Spring Fling. It could provide approximately another $10,000 for Spring Fling, and that would give the SC a chance to put their entire budget into one large event.
“If [students] don’t want to see one big headliner, then we would probably get four or five smaller acts that appeal to a range of tastes,” Scannell said. “I think people tend to like hip-hop acts better, judging on feedback the WSA and Social Committee has gotten in the past; but basically, we’re never going to be able to please everyone.”