Juice Jam comes back with new and old favorites

Juice Jam brings new and old favorites

University Union’s fall music festival features Flo Rida with newer music from Denzel Curry, Ryan Beatty and Rachel Grae.

Florida performs
Ethan Canals-Fernández
Flo Rida performs “GDFR” in front of hundreds of fans at University Union’s annual Juice Jam concert on Sunday.

University Union’s annual Juice Jam concert was ready for students to jump right in. Students paraded around the open Skytop Field to the bouncy houses and games awaiting their arrival. Sponsored goodies from Gatorade and NYX Cosmetics attracted those who were not already in line for hamburgers and hotdogs.  

After collecting Juice Jam branded tote bags and T-shirts, students soon began to gather by the stage for the primary reason they came — an afternoon-long mini-music festival that would conclude with hip-hop staple Flo Rida.

First opener Rachel Grae, who first gained popularity on TikTok, kicked off Juice Jam with her popular single “Friend Like Me.” The song revealed the singer’s struggles with finding authentic friends and maintaining those relationships.

Grae continued with an unreleased song, “Artists, Athletes, and A–holes,” which detailed dating frustrations. The crowd seemed to relate to her vulnerability as they sang along with her.  

Many students arrived following Grae’s performance. In season with the latest fashion trends on campus, some sported bows in their hair, and even some on their shoes. With or without bows, people posed for pictures in front of the colorful “Juice Jam” art wall by a student artist. 

Rachel Grae takes the stage at Juice Jam 2023 on Sunday.
Ethan Canals-Fernández
Juice Jam opener Rachel Grae takes the stage on Sunday at Skytop Field.

Ryan Beatty’s set followed with a different tune. He sang emotional ballads including his hit “Ribbons.” His music unified the crowd in a way that had fans swaying side-to-side. Beatty focused on his lyricism, allowing the performance to feel special and intimate. 

Denzel Curry was next to jump on stage. His enthusiastic energy emulated in high volume. His fan engagement was essential to the performance as he worked up the audience to get them involved. At one point, the crowd squatted until collectively jumping up to sing together. Whether a well-seasoned fan or first-time listener, people could agree that Curry set the stage for headliner Flo Rida. 

Ryan Beatty and his guitarist perform in front of hundreds of students at Juice Jam 2023.
Ethan Canals-Fernández
Ryan Beatty and his guitarist perform on stage on South Campus on Sunday.

Rain fell as the festival’s headliner was to appear on stage, but that didn’t keep fans from committing to the Florida-based star. Beginning with “Good Feeling,” Flo Rida had everyone dancing, despite the poor weather. 

Sporting a Syracuse Orange cutoff hoodie, Flo Rida embraced the college spirit and brought a group of students on stage, but the surprises didn’t end there.

During his performance of David Guetta’s “Where Them Girls At,” Flo Rida threw roses to the audience, teasing that fellow feature artist Nicki Minaj told him he couldn’t come to SU without bearing gifts. He regained fans with the show’s closing song, “I Cry.” Audience members were unified in nostalgia, people noting they forgot just how many hits he released.

A noticeable fog enveloped concertgoers as they left. One audience member acknowledged the festival may have drawn a bigger turnout if it was not held on a Sunday. Tired from unfinished homework and other weekend festivities, students went home exhausted yet invigorated. The concert proved to be yet again a fall staple for SU.

Flo Rida performs his 2007 hit
Flo Rida performs his 2007 hit “Low” to the crowd of SU students in attendance at this year’s Juice Jam concert.