Sun God, Reborn

The Guardian Ed. Board weighs in on the many changes being implemented this year, including a beer garden, a smaller lineup, and a no-reentry policy. 

Like most students, we on the UCSD Guardian Editorial Board have been abuzz about the announcement of the Sun God Festival lineup, which includes headliner Snoop Dogg, OK Go, Jhene Aiko and STRFKR. A.S. Concerts and Events has delivered on its promise of a household name, and we would like to recognize it for a job well done. As the Guardian Editorial Board, however, we feel like our job isn’t complete until we find something to nitpick, so as a caveat to our congratulations, we would like to point out just a couple of things, some that were well-done, but some that need a little more work.

First, inviting Aiko, who is not yet a household name but steadily becoming one, is one of the best moves ASCE could have made. She provides a fresh, female balance to Snoop and rounds out the festival lineup as a mix of music to appeal to a wide range of students. Aiko’s appearance, however, brings to light the underrepresentation of solo-female artists who have performed at Sun God Festivals in the past.

Last year, DJ Anna Lunoe was the only solo-female artist to perform, compared to the seven solo-male artists. In 2013, the news was even worse, with seven male artists and not one solo-female artist. This is not at all representative of the music industry in today’s times, when the Billboard Top 100 have a fairly equal split between male and female artists. In fact, last fall, five solo-female artists occupied the Billboard top spots for six weeks, for the first time in the institution’s 56-year history. With that much success from female artists, we would want to see them better represented in the Sun God Festival lineup. Regardless, we give massive props to ASCE for inviting Aiko, as well as female artists in the past. We hope that this is, in the words of a recent Billboard article, a movement, not a moment, for Sun God Festivals in the future.

We would also like to bring up something that has been gently mocked on social media, which is that in the year that the Sun God Task Force emphasized the importance of drug and alcohol safety, they brought in Snoop Dogg, an icon of drug use (mostly marijuana), as the primary headliner for the festival. In our interview, ASCE’s Seraphin Raya told us that the organization believes that Snoop Dogg doesn’t promote the kind of excessive or dangerous drug use that has sent UCSD students to the hospital.

In fact, much of the festival this year seems to indicate a shift in the administration’s attitude from punishing drug and alcohol use to promoting its responsible use. In addition to the new beer garden for students 21 and older, the video students watch before they can register for tickets emphasizes that students can and should seek help for possible overdoses without fearing repercussions. Even more of a change, the video asks students who do intend to do drugs to use drug-safety kits to test the purity and safety of their drugs.

While we can’t predict what kind of results this approach will create, we applaud ASCE and the UCSD administration for taking a reasonable approach to the issue, as opposed to their usual policy of denying and ignoring that drugs and alcohol are bound to be used at a festival of this size and notoriety. Despite the initial outcry over the changes to Sun God Festival, students seem to be settling in as the date approaches, and we’re excited to see how the festival evolves. If the idea is to shift the atmosphere of the festival, ASCE has definitely made major strides to that effect. On our wish list for next year is more representation of female artists and perhaps a more feasible re-entrance policy.