Juice Jam 2018 brings the heat
Juice Jam 2018 brings the heat
The hype around this year’s Juice Jam lineup of high-energy pop stars and rappers started off high. But so did the 90-degree Syracuse sun, which loomed overhead and threatened to kill the concert’s spirit throughout the day. Despite being drenched in sweat, the majority of the five artists booked put on lively and entertaining performances, with the exception of Playboi Carti, who struggled in the heat and cut his set short.
The day kicked off with Omar Apollo, a Mexican-American singer whose R&B-soul-pop blend of sounds, crystal clear vocals and accompanying dance moves filled the smaller of the two Juice Jam stages with life. Unfortunately, when Apollo began his set at 12:45, there were only three students standing in front of him. This didn’t stop the 20-year-old from bouncing to the beat and playfully howling into his mic, and by his third song, “Ignorin,” the crowd had thickened to nearly 100. Apollo, who is multilingual, sang a few songs in Spanish and addressed the crowd, asking, “How many Mexicans we got in here?” When one female student yelled back, he laughed and replied: “Just one? That’s enough!”
Immediately following Apollo was Loud Luxury, a DJ duo from Canada who met in college. The pair began their set with a short remix of their smash hit “Body” which has amassed over 200 million streams on Spotify, hyping up the crowd and earning them a lively welcome despite the quickly accelerating temperature. They moved through their collection of cover songs at a quick pace, playing remixes of radio hits including Post Malone’s “I Fall Apart” and Drake’s “God’s Plan.” The highlight of their stage-time came when the group paid homage to the late Avicii, blasting a snippet of his hit song “Levels” through the speakers, earning claps and cheers of recognition and respect. The group made a strange choice at the end of their forty-minute slot, opting to play “Body” again to close out the set. However, the crowd seemed unbothered by the duplication as students sang and danced along for the second time.
Walking on stage in a rainbow-colored crop-top, mismatched shorts and jumbo platform sneakers, Anne-Marie went on next, beginning with upbeat single “Ciao, Adios.” At 2 o’clock, the heat was at its peak and seemed to be an annoyance for the singer, who addressed the crowd about it on multiple occasions, even saying “I don’t know how Beyonce does this shit,” in reference to her dancing in the sun. Nonetheless, she kept her energy high and made it through her set vivaciously, keeping the crowd enticed. She even taught the audience the words to her less popular songs, “Let Me Live” and “Trigger,” so they could sing along. Toward the end of her set, some students sat down to fan themselves and catch their breath. However, when Anne-Marie began her last song, “FRIENDS,” everyone was on their feet and both the singer and the audience danced through the entirety of the track.
The crowd was the biggest it had been all day when Playboi Carti’s set began on the main stage at 3:15. The rapper, who released his debut album earlier this year, began with his hit “R.I.P. Fredo,” receiving tremendous encouragement from the audience as gunshot and airhorn sound recordings were projected from the stage.
In jeans and a flannel, Carti seemed to be having a hard time dealing with the weather, and often pointed his microphone into the sea of students instead of rapping along to his tracks. After some technical difficulties due to the beating sun, the 22-year-old left the stage after exclaiming “It’s so f—— hot.” He came back minutes later only to wave goodbye to the audience, cutting his set short without explanation and leaving the fans confused.
Rapper A$AP Ferg jumped onto the stage, bringing the energy back like a splash of water in the face. Opening his set with “Trap and a Dream,” and praising the crowd for their spirit. His vocal skills were on display as he rapped acapella to multiple tracks, including “Nasty (Who Dat)” and A$AP Mob’s classic “Hella Hoes.” Ferg chimed in about the blazing heat as well, checking in on the audience on various occasions and even handing out water bottles, telling the crowd to “share that s—.” Following a moment of silence for A$AP Yams, who died in 2015, and a performance of “Yamborghini High,” the rapper closed out the set with his double-platinum hit, “Plain Jane.”
Before the festival came to an end, Ferg left the audience with an uplifting message. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t be whatever the f— you want to be,” the artist said, closing the show. It was a much needed pep-talk for the sun-burnt crowd of students as they made their way to the yellow buses waiting to take them back to campus.