The Associated Students of the University of Nevada held the annual Spring Concert on this past Friday, May 4, with college students swarming in front of The Student Union to dance the night away amidst flashing lights and thundering waves of sound. Performers included DJ Apollo, Joyzu and Ekali.
The concert kicked off with a performance by DJ Apollo — also known by his peers as William Compton. Compton currently attends UNR as a journalism student and showed off his skills on Friday to a crowd of energetic students. While he admits to being wary of EDM years ago, Compton also says that his love for the genre began when his brother first took him to Snowglobe in 2016. The very next day, he bought himself some editing software and began producing music.
“I’ve seen all walks of life come to like EDM,” he said. “It’s really cool to see people from different backgrounds and different inspirations come in.”
In terms of influence, Compton referred to R&B and soul, saying that his music reflects these genres and that they’re his favorite types of music.
Following DJ Apollo was EDM duo Joyzu, made up of Quinton Pope and Carson Willms. The two are based out of California but come from very different cities— Sacramento and Denver. They charged up on stage following their friend Apollo, and the crowd quickly met them with enthusiastic cheers. As their set went on, they encouraged lingering stragglers in the back to join the crowd closer to the stage.
The two were happy to perform in Reno again, saying, “UNR and Reno is so supportive, it is insane. We appreciate everybody coming to our show and supporting us, tweeting us, sending us pictures, and more.”
Joyzu first began DJing in high school when they were 16 years old. What started with small gigs at house parties eventually led up to a larger gig in a warehouse with 1,500 people in attendance — an event they say made them fall in love with performing. The duo is signed with Armada Music and even perform at major events like Snowglobe. They also agree that performing at colleges is an experience like no other and that students get to hear a heavier side of Joyzu than other crowds do.
“College audiences are always so energetic and ready to dance from doors open until doors close,” they said. “Not that other places or audiences aren’t, but it is a different vibe. We play different music depending on where we are performing.”
More recently, Joyzu has been collaborating with various artists and companies, such as Wavy. Wavy, an augmented reality app that incorporates visual elements with music, features Joyzu’s song “2”, featuring Blest Jones. The two are also working on more music to come.
Finally, Ekali was the last to make his way onstage following Joyzu’s performance.
All the way from Vancouver, Canda, Ekali is a well-known artist in the world of EDM. Many of his fans cheered him on from the audience, and those who weren’t familiar with him couldn’t help but cheer as well.
One of those fans was Kathleen Aguilar, a senior at UNR and member of the rave community. After seeing Ekali twice before at events like Beyond Wonderland and Hard Summer, she said he provided yet another amazing performance at the Spring Concert.
“He kept the crowd pumped up, and with each song it didn’t make me feel tired at all,” she said. “Usually artists go from fast songs to slow songs and it messes up the vibe, but he played banger after banger and knew when it was time to slow down.”
Aguilar also got the opportunity to meet Ekali after the show, along with many other fans. Although she worried he would show typical signs of stardom and act conceited, his patience with fans and kind demeanor soon reassured her. In addition, Aguilar was able to trade Kandi with the artist, a tradition in the rave community that’s done when two people join hands and say “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect”, or “PLUR”, then slip a bracelet from one person’s wrist to the other’s. The act is meant to reinforce kindness in a community that is often stigmatized by drug use.
“A lot of people choose to do drugs,” Aguilar said. “But the great thing about this community is acceptance and the good vibes, and bringing people together through good music.”
The stigmatization of EDM has certainly been reflected in society and pop culture. Outsiders often demonize large-scale rave festivals like Snowglobe and Electric Daisy Festival for the heavy drug use and violence that can occur. On top of that, many people assume that EDM is strictly a “white people” thing. While these are surely worrisome aspects of EDM and rave culture, overwhelming love and acceptance that rave culture promotes can also debunk that.
According to Joyzu, every music culture is stigmatized by drug use and partying. Yet EDM is especially prone to this because of its relevance in today’s society and circulation on social media. However, it’s also a very accepting community and has fans from various different backgrounds.
“Once you get ‘into’ a scene, they all have drugs involved,” the duo said. “[EDM] is in the spotlight in ways that other genres aren’t now. As far as EDM catering towards a certain race or ethnicity, we don’t see that at all.”
Their words especially rang true during the Spring Concert, which had students of various ages, races and genders flooding in to see the performers. Yet the one thing they all seemed to share in common was their excitement and readiness to have a good time.