Two A&E writers share their experiences with Spring Send-Off
The Spring Send-Off was a fun-filled night featuring artists Rico Nasty, Ari Lennox, and Destiny Rogers, all of whom captivated the room throughout the show with up-beat performances and considerable stage presence. Each of these three artists were entirely different in both their music genres and overall vibes, with Rogers delivering a pop introduction to the Spring Send-Off, Lennox performing sensual songs that hypnotized the crowd, and Rico Nasty ending the show with her high-energy music. However, these contrasting sets complimented each other and ultimately completed the entire show.
Destiny Rogers, a 19-year-old pop and R&B fusion singer/songwriter, was the first act to grace the stage. Although opening acts have the difficult task of setting up the crowd’s enthusiasm for the subsequent performers, she managed to execute her songs with raw talent and a natural stage presence that left a lasting impression upon new listeners. Rogers began her set with “North$ide” and then went on to perform “Apologies” along with other songs off of her first EP “Tomboy.” She ended her set on a high note with “Tomboy,” the titular song that managed to capture the essence of who she is as an artist and an individual: a young girl breaking through gender barriers and social restrictions imposed upon her by the music industry. Her songs surprised the audience due to their catchy melodies, and although many people in the crowd may not have known her name before the show, she left a lasting impression upon the audience.
Following Rogers, Ari Lennox came onto the stage rocking an orange fur coat, ready to perform to an audience completely entranced by her charisma. Immediately, she commanded the attention of the room by seducing the crowd with her powerful lyrics and stage presence. Her songs were sexually liberating, leaving those in the room feeling empowered as they swayed along to her mesmerizing music with explicit lyrics that spoke of sex, freedom, and relationships. Towards the end of her set, she specifically addressed black women, encouraging audience members to appreciate them before she launched into her last song dedicated to black women in particular. Lennox’s interactions with the audience, whether it was through her monologue or direct comments to specific members in the crowd, broke the barrier between artist and listener, creating a unique sense of unity that stayed in the room for the remainder of the Spring Send-Off.
The last, but certainly not least, performer was Rico Nasty. Her official DJ introduced himself before she actually came out, building tension with repeated recordings of her name until the entire crowd was holding their breath, waiting for the performer. After an evening of anticipation, Rico finally walked out onto the stage and as soon as she did, it was as if the entire room flipped a switch. The room immediately filled with more excitement than before, as the crowd jumped and screamed along to every single song. The audience’s energy did not falter once throughout her entire performance; it only seemed to increase as she went further into her set. Although all of her songs were dynamic, “Tia Tamera” took the cake for the most hype performance of her entire set. As soon as the first beat dropped, the audience went into an uproar, creating dozens of mosh pits and tripling their hysteria with one of her most famous hits. Her DJ contributed to the crowd’s experience by encouraging the mosh pits and delivering the beats that allowed Rico to perform. It was through this seamless team effort that they succeeded in hyping up the room.
Although the Spring Send-Off featured three unique artists with their own distinctive genres, each of these performers offered the audience a different experience that contributed to the overall success of the show. The eclectic mix of artists gave the audience a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the entire show and offered the perfect blend of fun, seduction, and excitement.
— Erin Chun, Contributing Writer
I felt uneasy for two major reasons at the start of University Center’s Spring Send-Off. One, I was about to be a foot away from the great Rico Nasty, and two, I had seen someone wearing a snapback with “I Love Haters” scrawled across the front, a wife beater, two or three bedazzled belts, and a flannel tied around his head. It was an unfortunate, unnecessary sight. However, whether or not UC San Diego students purposefully tread along the lines of appropriating black culture or not ultimately did not take away from the musical experience. It doesn’t seem fair to compare Destiny Rogers’ performance to Rico Nasty or neo-soul artist Ari Lennox’s set, as she is more inexperienced and younger than both of them. Rogers struggled to engage with her audience and kept them at a distance, retreating behind the microphone. Her best performance of the night occurred when she broke from her lethargic demeanor and won over the audience by introducing her song “LockDown” with an intimate anecdote about an unhealthy relationship she had when she was seventeen.
Shortly after the stage darkened and the music started, Lennox came out in a fabulous bright pink faux fur coat complete with golden hoops that had the word “BOSS” inscribed in them. I knew her set would be a departure from the opening number. The lighting immediately created a more sensual mood as her silhouette melted into clouds of purple, green, and red smoke. Having never heard her music before, I was mesmerized by her cadence’s captivating presence. Her vocal performance during “Up Late” was beautifully smooth, with her sound bringing Motown to mind. Lennox addressed the title of her newest album “Shea Butter Baby” on stage, lamenting how popular culture at large makes black women feel less beautiful than white women, and asking the audience to support black women before passionately cruising into another track with her sultry vocals.
Her songs have a soothing quality, and her lyrics do not shy from sharing a sex-positive point of view. Her actions back up her writing, considering she asked the audience to feel themselves, even jokingly encouraging us to touch ourselves to her music. After this star-making performance, it is safe to say that Lennox will be a staple of my playlists from now on.
Then came the queen of “sugar trap” to the stage. Her D.J. commanded the audience to hold up their cell phone flashlights, every face illuminated by its own halo of anticipation. Rico Nasty started off her performance by shouting out her producer Kenny Beats in her distinctive shriek. From beginning to end, every moment of her performance was intoxicating. Her energy seeped into the crowd; fans were getting increasingly rowdy and began jumping up and down to the point that the dance floor was moving at least an inch. Even when she was resting between songs with her leg propped up on the speakers, or signing posters handed to her from fans in the front row, you could feel the energy radiating from something as simple as her smile. Making eye contact with Rico, who flashed two peace signs at me, made my week and possibly even my quarter. I was a fan before the concert, but the strength of her live performance backed up her potent and inspiring lyrics without showing any strain from the wide sonic range her music spans.
Hailing from the DMV, or D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, Rico has taken cues from punk, rock, and rap with reckless abandon. These stylistic choices were also evident in her outfit, which was highlighted by rainbow hair extensions, a metallic chain dangling from her belt, and heavy black studded boots. An artist that has defied the expectations hip-hop has for female rappers and females in general, Rico’s performance of her songs “Smack A B—-” and “Roof” empowered the crowd, who rarely missed reciting a word along with Rico. Before performing her song “Big T——” off of her album “Anger Management,” Rico took a moment to call out how women get judged for dressing the way they want, reminiscent of her unabashedly women-first line; “Don’t give that boy the p—- if you know he ain’t worth it.”
— Francesca Hummler, Contributing Writer
Venue: Price Center West Ballroom
Date: May 15, 2019