Fifty shades of neon spandex flecked the mob at the intersection of Lancaster and Ithan with vibrant colors as students arrived in droves to catch Swedish DJ Alesso’s performance Friday night at the Pavilion.
Alesso, a rising star in the electronic dance music community who has already achieved a considerable degree of international mainstream notoriety, headlined this year’s installment of the Campus Activity Team’s annual spring concert.
Previous performers have included rappers Wale and Chiddy Bang, DJ and mash-up artist Girl Talk and alternative rock band The Fray.
“I’ve been to four electronic dance music concerts this semester,” said junior Kris Reclusado. “The energy of the crowd on the floor was the best I’ve ever experienced.”
Indeed, the atmosphere inside the Pavilion at times reached levels reminiscent of the frenzies that follow a Mouphtaou Yarou throw-down dunk, but sustained for several minutes, not confined to a moment’s burst.
Strobe lighting and laser beams of all colors pierced the otherwise near-total darkness, scanning the crowd to the beat of Alesso’s bassline.
Donning light-up jewelry and flashing glow sticks, students jumped, danced and batted balloons, and some appeared to lose themselves entirely in the often rave-like ambiance. Thick smoke occasionally poured out from the stage high over the Pavilion floor, itself a sea of limbs and LED lights.
The party began with a set by Carl Nilsmo, the University’s own Swedish DJ, which started not long after the doors opened at 7 p.m. Nilsmo, a Stockholm native and up and coming electronic artist in his own right, is currently a senior communication major.
He has played a number of venues in the Philadelphia area during his time at the University, including nearby 23 East in Ardmore, at which he co-hosted an after-party Friday night.
Despite reassurances from the Campus Activities Team, rumors and speculation swept Twitter and Facebook in days leading up to the spring concert following the revelation that Alesso was scheduled to play a show at the Congress Theater in Chicago on the same night.
The student body’s fears proved to be unfounded, however, as Alesso indeed entered the building sometime between 8 and 9 p.m. and played a brisk but lively set that rocked the Pavilion even to the upper level bleachers, which were packed several rows deep.
“I enjoyed the Alesso performance because there were so many people there, the Pavillion felt really packed,” said senior Jordan Meeker. “But I felt like the concert was very short and wished it would have gone on for longer.”
Alesso, only 21 years old himself, gained worldwide exposure in the summer of 2011 and has been a prominent house DJ and producer ever since, most recently known for his remix of One Republic’s “If I Lose Myself.”
Perhaps as an ironic testament to the good work by the Campus Activities Team in recruiting Alesso for this year’s show, a number of University of Pennsylvania students decided to forego their own “Spring Fling” concert to trek up the Main Line by SEPTA-train.
The headliner in that show: Girl Talk, who performed Villanova’s spring concert in 2011. While the crowd was still predominantly University students, the partial influx of outside guests came to the ire of some, who were unable to get a ticket to the sold-out show.
Like any major student event, the concert was not without controversy. One student claimed he and several others who had lower level tickets were denied entry and sent to the upper level because of overcrowding below.
“CAT should know how many lower level tickets they can sell,” he said. “I am going to demand a refund.”
Judging by the raucous crowd that sprinted through torrential rains while fleeing the Pavilion following Alesso’s set, this year’s spring concert was an overwhelming success. Soaking students sought shelter swarming the Bartley Exchange before braving the downpour and pursuing their Friday night affairs.
The overwhelming consensus among the student body was that it was one of the better performances on campus in years. By most accounts, it was the best attended, too.
“I loved his Swedish accent,” said two excited female students leaving the show. “My mind was blown.”