Carly Rae Jepsen and Smino blow up Blowout


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Carly Rae Jepsen belts her hit songs in Welsh-Ryan Arena. Jepsen recently released a new song, Party for One.

Zoe Malin, Reporter

Twenty minutes into headliner Carly Rae Jepsen’s set at Saturday’s A&O Blowout, the distinct beat of her hit song “Call Me Maybe” blasted through the speakers. The audience screamed and began to sing like it was 2012.

“I wasn’t ever expecting to hear that song live,” said Communication freshman Erin Zhang. “It was so cool to be with my friends from NU, jumping up and down together.”

About 1,700 attendees piled into Welsh-Ryan Arena at A&O Productions’ fall Blowout as Jepsen and opener Smino took the stage. The artists performed music of widely different genres, which A&O co-chair Jessica Collins said attracted a diverse crowd. Jepsen was Blowout’s first solo female headliner.

Overall, Collins is proud of the event.

“It was a group effort,” Collins said. “A&O really came together to make the concert a good experience for first-years and all of Northwestern in general.”

Smino played a variety of songs from two of his previous albums, as well as his song “KLINK” from his latest album Noir. Medill junior Claire Toomey, who booked Smino, said it was important for A&O to have an opening artist of a different genre than Jepsen; the group wanted to achieve a balance in the concert’s appeal.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign senior Aaron Navarro said seeing Smino at Blowout was “an added bonus” to Jepsen’s performance.

“The first time I saw Smino it was pretty lit,” Navarro said. “But this time he seemed more focused. He was great.”

Soon after Smino’s set, the lights of Welsh Ryan were dimmed once again for Jepsen. The audience rushed to the stage as she opened with “Run Away With Me” from her third studio album Emotion.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Northwestern dance more,” Collins said.

In between her songs, Jepsen gave a bit of background about them. Before singing “First Time,” she joked that being on NU’s campus that evening was “the first time [she’s] ever been to a real college,” referencing her musical theatre studies at the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

“Where I went to college, we tap-danced and sang songs,” she said.

In an attempt to make Blowout comfortable for all attendees, Collins said A&O’s members recently participated in training with the Chicago non-profit Our Music My Body. The group learned about bystander intervention and making concerts “a safe space for everyone.”

A&O also issued a statement on its Facebook page prior to Blowout discouraging attendees from using the N-word while singing along to Smino’s songs. Collins said this was a continuation of last year’s movement to bar the N-word from non-black students’ vocabulary at the concert.

Additionally, A&O had two American Sign Language interpreters present at Blowout.

A&O had interpreters present at its Ball event last spring after consulting with AccessibleNU about the proportion of students who might need the service. Collins said A&O will continue to make its events more accessible for all students through similar initiatives.

Jacob Ohara called his first Blowout experience was “incredible.”

“Blowout exceeded my expectations,” the Communication freshman said. “I still can’t believe it was that good.”

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