The second annual Biggest Little Festival, hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, took place on Saturday, Sept. 2. The headliners were A$AP Ferg, Snakehips and The Mowgli’s. Phoebe Ryan and Coast Modern also performed.
The performances on the main stage represented a wide array of genres: Coast Modern brought indie pop, Phoebe Ryan brought electro-pop, The Mowgli’s brought alternative rock, Snakehips brought EDM and A$AP Ferg brought hip-hop.
“Last year the lineup was extremely EDM heavy,” said ASUN director of Programming Mia Kinel. “When getting into this position I vowed to myself I would bring new things to this campus. Alternative has not been a genre that this campus has seen. So my two strongest headliners were A$AP Ferg and Snakehips because they were of the EDM and rap genre, then The Mowgli’s, Phoebe Ryan and Coast Modern are new genres that we haven’t had in concert yet. So I thought the festival setting would be the best way to introduce the student population.”
Tickets cost $25 ahead of time and $50 the day of. ASUN sold around 4,400-4,500 tickets, about 2,000 less than last year. BLF’s budget was $210,000, but ASUN ended up coming under budget, spending roughly $200,000. How much each artist cost is yet to be disclosed, but total artist expenses came to approximately $103,000.
“We have a tax-based budget,” said assistant director of budget and finance in the ASUN department of programming Kyle Feng. “Every credit that a student takes, students pay $5 to [ASUN]. Then with our whole budget, the president allocates the money to all the branches and departments of ASUN.”
ASUN did not make a profit off of ticket sales, but that was expected.
The BLF grounds stretched over the UNR intramural field and the adjacent parking lot. Two stages stood on opposite ends: the main stage and the ASUN stage.
Four local artists performed on the ASUN stage: Treazy, Such is Life, Apollo and the Dead Beat, all UNR students. ASUN accepted submissions online and chose their favorites.
Other attractions included food trucks, vendors, a rock wall, an inflatable obstacle course, a slide, corn hole and a “Before I die…” wall. Food trucks included Jus, Stix & Strips, Nom Eats, Lazy Sundae and Bam!Dog. Vendors included Reno as F—, Rawbry and Tahoe Nevada Love.
A few changes were made from last year. For example, ASUN applied a more scrutinous vetting process in picking their performers.
“YG’s performance last year obviously was not up to our standards,” Kinel said. “What we expected wasn’t what we received. We asked him to come perform on this campus, and not to shout chants and rile up the audience. So this year when choosing our artists we did more research into reviews of our performances.”
Another change from last year was that non-students were not allowed into BLF 2017.
“Last year we did community [sales],” Feng said. “With those ticket sales we saw that a lot of the community members were the ones causing a ruckus. There were a couple MIC’s from community members, so this year we kept it strictly to students.”
The Mowgli’s came on stage at 6:00 p.m., as more and more students began to trickle onto the field. It was immediately apparent that they were there to have a good time.
“College shows are some of my favorite,” said Mowgli’s guitarist/vocalist Colin Dieden. “Everyone is just excited to be alive because they’re 22 or whatever and life rules. Always high energy and happy to be there with us.”
When asked of his opinion of Reno, Dieden commented, “We’ve played a few shows in Reno. I’m down with it, I end up losing less money than I do in Vegas for whatever reason.”
The Mowgli’s danced around onstage as they breezed through songs like “I’m Good” and “Summertime.” They casually chatted with the audience, discussing such topics as Burning Man and outer space, tossing out water bottles and fidget spinners.
“We’ve never wanted to be a band that was too cool for anyone or a band that people listened to just to be cool,” Dieden said. “That was a discussion that was happening the day this band started.”
Snakehips took the stage at 7:30. As daylight faded, the British EDM duo delivered skull-rattling bass drops. They played killer throwback remixes like “Work It” by Missy Elliot, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg and “Crank That” by Soulja Boy. They also played remixes to newer hits like “DNA.” by Kendrick Lamar and “No Problem” by Chance the Rapper. All the while, they sprinkled in original songs like “Don’t Leave” and “Right Now.”
A$AP Ferg was about half an hour tardy, but once he came out, his aggressive trap sound was explosive. The beginning of his set was mostly songs off of his new mixtape “Still Striving,” including singles “Plain Jane” and “Nasty (Who Dat).” The show lagged a little bit in the middle. Ferg performed an a capella verse, which was heartfelt, but the crowd seemed lukewarm toward it. Then he brought out a guest no one was familiar with to perform three songs. Also, Ferg mispronounced “Nevada” on several occasions. However, he ended on a high note, playing classic bangers “Work,” “Shabba” and “New Level.”
“Having Snakehips and A$AP Ferg come satisfies students with an eclectic taste like me,” UNR senior Megan McKeon said. “It was awesome.”
As BLF 2017 ended, hip-hop heads, EDM junkies and indie darlings exited in harmony, leaving behind crumpled paper cups and taking fond memories, stumbling past wary police officers.