Icona Pop, Earl Sweatshirt headline Blowout at Aragon Ballroom


Sophie Mann/Daily Senior Staffer

Earl Sweatshirt leans over the stage at Aragon Ballroom to a crowd of Northwestern students during his performance Friday. The rapper’s set preceded Icona Pop’s performance at A&O Production’s annual Blowout concert.

Isabella Soto, Reporter

After this quarter’s first round of midterms, Northwestern students chanted “I don’t care, I love it!” Friday night at A&O Blowout, held for the first time in the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.

Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop headlined A&O’s annual fall concert following a performance by Los Angeles rapper Earl Sweatshirt. WNUR DJs Freddy Mummix and RIOT URRRL opened up the show with hand-picked selections and remixes for the evening.

Earl Sweatshirt, associated with rap collective Odd Future, brought his signature dark and articulate verses to the night’s festivities, performing the majority of the songs on his newest album “I Don’t Like S—, I Don’t Go Outside,” which was released this March.

Stepping onto the stage in a navy blue windbreaker and gray sweatpants, Sweatshirt rapped through songs like “Molasses” and “Grief,” and engaged the crowd by teaching some lyrics before roaring into “Grown Ups.”

“Repeat after me … Don’t know where I’m going, don’t know where I been. Never trust these h—, can’t even trust my friends,” he said. “Now you got the pieces to the collage. Time to put them together.”

Although Icona Pop may have been the most recognizable name billed, some students arrived well in advance just to secure a spot for Sweatshirt’s 8:15 p.m. set.

“I’m a really big fan of Earl, and I really wanted to come and see him,” Weinberg freshman Rowan Hussein said.

Icona Pop brought its infectious club-bumping hits to the Northwestern crowd and turned the audience into one giant dance party.

The duo, composed of Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, coordinated in sleek black, sequined crop tops and danced in sync while performing hits like “All Night” and their newest single “Emergency,” as well as covering Bruno Mars’ hit single “Locked Out of Heaven.”

Throughout their performance, the Icona Pop duo joked around with each other on stage, even posing slightly personal questions to the NU audience.

“Do you like making out?” Jawo asked before going into “Then We Kiss,” a song from the duo’s 2013 debut international album “This Is… Icona Pop.”

The duo closed out the show with their hit song “I Love It,” to which the entire crowd erupted into fits of fist-pumping, jumping and passionate screaming along to the lyrics.

Usually held in Welsh-Ryan Arena, this year A&O held Blowout at the Aragon Ballroom.

“We really wanted to take advantage of the fact that Chicago is a city with rich music history and has some amazing venues that provide audience-goers with really unique and intimate spaces to see live shows,” said Olly Goodman, director of development for A&O. “The Aragon Ballroom is one of the Chicago’s greatest venues to see large scale productions, so we wanted to open that up to Northwestern students.”

Despite the change in venue, Blowout’s attendance numbers remained in line with past years’ attendance.

“Attendance was at around 1,500 students, which is what we’ve come to expect for Blowout,” said Weinberg senior Cory Goldman, one of the A&O co-chairs.

Purple and white confetti snowed down from overhead as the ladies of Icona Pop said their goodbyes. Despite Blowout lacking the familiarity of Welsh-Ryan Arena, David Nkemere, a SESP sophomore on the A&O Street Team, said the new venue offers a change of atmosphere for the concert.

“Nothing compares to being in a real live, famous Chicago venue like the Aragon,” he said.

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