Students huddled together in groups outside the Reno Events Center after the Biggest Little Festival on Friday, Sept. 8, eagerly awaiting their rides and buzzing about the show. Many of them were still reeling from the events that occurred inside just a few moments earlier.
“[Ella Mai] touched my soul,” said Delevear Mack. “I love her music. I’m single, I feel like she’s single, so [I] relate.”
Another concert-goer, Lareana Toralba, said this year’s BLF was her favorite so far.
“Elephante was good … I like his type of music,” she said with a beaming smile.
Yet many students at the University of Nevada, Reno, were disgruntled by the announcement of this year’s Biggest Little Festival for a number of reasons. Some were put off by the change from an outdoor, on-campus venue to an indoor, off-campus venue. Others were not impressed by the lineup. Many even said the price for tickets was too high, and the lineup wasn’t worth $27.
UNR student Jourden Brown said, “I didn’t go this year ‘cause the only artist I actually knew [Ella Mai] didn’t seem to be the festival type. When I go to a festival, I want to hear music I can actually dance to. I know everyone is different but it seemed like they only catered to one type of genre.”
Nicci Holman, another student who didn’t attend, said that although she respected Ella Mai as an artist, she didn’t feel like she was an appropriate choice as headliner in comparison to prevaious years.
“Years prior we had YG and ASAP Ferg, so to switch it up to a slower R&B artist was not the best decision in my opinion.”
ASUN President Hannah Jackson explained the reasoning for all the new changes this year, citing students’ best interests and health concerns.
When it came time to choose a venue, Jackson said the poor air quality from the recent wildfires would have prevented many students from enjoying an outdoor event, leading ASUN to change the location of the Biggest Little Festival to the Reno Events Center. In terms of the chosen performers, Jackson also said it had to do with what students voted for last school year.
“We did a poll last spring … for what artists [students] wanted to see,” she said, “and pop was the number one genre … which led us to choose our artist, followed by EDM.”
It certainly seemed as though students in attendance enjoyed the music, as they danced and laughed and cheered throughout the night. Leading performers Gavin Turek and Elephante even made their way out to the crowd during both of their sets to receive love from the enthusiastic students.
Ella Mai was met with a litany of cheers, screams and affectionate words as she made her way onto the stage. The artist mostly geared her music toward women, of which there seemed to be more of than men in the audience that night. At one point during her performance she led a singing contest between the men and women present, and claimed the women as the obvious winners.
Overall, many students at the concert said they had a great time even if they weren’t familiar with or excited by artists at first.
“I was unhappy when I saw the lineup on paper,” said Bryan Dotson. “But when I went it was actually hella cool!”
Jacob Woods, who didn’t know Ella Mai very well before the concert, said “[She] was my favorite artist there. She definitely gained a new fan!”