Method Man and Major Lazer rock the Riv for this year’s A&O Ball

Lauren Caruba

Purple strobe lights illuminated a crowd of Northwestern students dancing to a pounding bass, forming the letter “W” with their hands as they participated in a “Wu-Tang” chant led by Method Man.

NU students filled the Riviera Theatre in Chicago Saturday night for this year’s A&O Ball, which was headlined by the DJ duo Major Lazer. Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man and his rhyme partner Redman opened the show with an hour-long performance of hip-hop and rap songs.

Method Man performed “Bring the Pain,” the first single released from his debut album “Tical,” and a DJ homage to Jam Master Jay. He also performed several songs by the Wu-Tang Clan, a rap and hip-hop collective established in 1993.

Vivek Sudarsan, co-chair of promotions and public relations for A&O Productions, said Method Man’s past work as a member of Wu-Tang Clan drew numerous fans to the show.

“Method Man obviously has a big following,” the Weinberg senior said. “Everyone that was up front seemed to know his Wu-Tang songs.”

At one point during the show, members of the crowd held Method Man up by the legs as he sang above the crowd, and he crowd-surfed again later in the evening. Weinberg sophomore Ezra Olson said Method Man did a good job of getting the crowd excited and involved in the performance.

“I really appreciated the energy he gave,” Olson said. “This was a tribal experience – in a good way.”

By the time DJs Diplo and Switch of Major Lazer began their performance, the area in front of the stage had filled in almost completely, and the energy of the crowd increased.

Throughout their hour-long performance, Major Lazer wove a variety of electronic mixes in with well-known songs like Rihanna’s “You da One” and Far East Movement’s “Like a G6″ and featured portions of “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex. They also played their well-known dance mix, “Pon de Floor.”

Like Method Man, the group tried to involve members of the audience, bringing several students onstage to dance.

Elise Mattenson, co-manager of NU’s Fusion Dance Company, said she was particularly excited about Major Lazer because she choreographed a dance to the group’s music her freshman year.

She added that Major Lazer’s involvement in various areas of the music industry makes them appeal to a broader range of students. The duo, which formed in 2009 after working together on an M.I.A. album, has also collaborated with La Roux and helped produce Beyonce’s song “Run the World (Girls).”

“They pop up a lot of places in the music business,” the Weinberg junior said. “They remix a lot of music, and a lot of people remix them.”

Although many students attended the concert, this year’s A&O Ball did not sell out, with tickets still available for online purchase the night of the show. Sudarsan attributed the lower turnout to the fact that electronic music is a relatively new musical style.

“Because it’s a new genre, it may not necessarily be as pervasive as other genres,” Sudarsan said. “We definitely think it’s a growing genre, and people left the show more excited about electronic music.”

This concert marked the unveiling of A&O’s new ticket bundling system, which allowed students to purchase a $15 package of tickets for both the Ball and A&O Speaker event featuring comedian John Oliver.

Elsa Stahura, a co-chair for promotions and public relations, said a good portion of students used the bundling system to purchase tickets and they were excited about getting a discount. She added that A&O may consider applying the system to events the group holds during an entire quarter rather than just for events held close together.

In addition to the new bundling system, A&O also introduced a new busing system for transporting students back to campus after the concert. Instead of having all the buses line up directly in front of the Riviera, some were directed to a street adjacent to the theater.

“We needed a more efficient busing system so we didn’t clog the entrance,” the Weinberg senior said. “It gave people a place to go, rather than just standing around at the entrance waiting for the buses to fill.”

Stahura said the combination of hip-hop and electronic dance music made this year’s concert a high-energy success and one of the best she has seen at her time at NU.

“They really delivered on a fun dance party for Northwestern students,” Stahura said. “While the venue wasn’t completely filled to capacity, I think everyone who came to the show had a really great experience.”

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