Jaden Smith and SOPHIE hype up crowd at A&O Blowout

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Jaden Smith and SOPHIE hype up crowd at A&O Blowout

Jaden Smith, the headliner of A&O Blowout, performs at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Jaden Smith, the headliner of A&O Blowout, performs at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Jaden Smith, the headliner of A&O Blowout, performs at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Jaden Smith, the headliner of A&O Blowout, performs at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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Almost immediately into Jaden Smith’s set at A&O Blowout on Saturday night, students were jumping and moshing.

“I’d rather see students excited and fired up about the shows we’re doing than just standing around,” said Blowout co-producer Jeremy Lamstein, a SESP senior.

Welsh-Ryan Arena hosted around 1,500 students on Saturday evening for A&O’s annual Blowout, with performances by SOPHIE and headliner Jaden Smith. The concert was free, unlike in previous years.

Students began jumping around so intensely that dozens of people toppled over almost as soon as Smith’s set began.

“I understand it’s definitely a little crazy and intense, but I think it’s fun to feed off that energy,” Lamstein said.

Before the concert, members of A&O restated their message against the use of the N-word and advocated for consent, which they also pushed out on social media prior to the event.

Lamstein said one of A&O’s goals is to make their shows as accessible as possible to all students and serve everyone in the student body. He added that A&O wants “everyone to feel comfortable in the spaces (they) provide” for students.

“The fact that they have a warning at all is different than previous years,” said Communication senior Melia Agudelo. “They had it last year, but when I was a freshman they did not have this.”

Communication first-year Meakailyn Phillips affirmed she felt safer and more comfortable in the environment set by the messaging.

Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer
Popular EDM artist SOPHIE opened A&O Blowout. Unlike previous Blowouts, this year’s event was free.

SOPHIE’s entrance brought excitement to the venue and prepared the audience for Smith’s set. As soon as her EDM music filled the arena, the mosh pit began. People were pushing each other in mobs, fighting their way to the front. The energy of the crowd was certainly undeniable as students prepared for Smith’s set.

Prior to his entrance, Smith added visuals to the performance to get the crowd hyped. The stage screen displayed a video depicting bridges, railroads and a bright pink car with wings — all of which are visual elements of his album “ERYS,” from which his setlist was largely based. The visuals continued throughout the performance, with smoke machines to boot that prompted cheers from the audience.

Phillips was one of the students that successfully made their way to the front of the barricade, experiencing Smith’s set a mere few feet from her face. While she wasn’t a diehard fan of Smith prior to the performance, she still enjoyed her experience.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see someone so up close that I’ve heard so much about in the media,” Phillips said. “It was surreal.”

Email: rebeccaaizin2023@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @rebecca_aizin

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