What Ever Happened to the Thrill of the Hunt?

The Sun God Festival may have earned itself an unofficial slogan this year: last name “ever,” first name “lamest.”

We’re not referring solely to the just-leaked lineup — we’re talking about the new viral bookmark campaign to “get people talking” about everyone’s favorite day of the year. But the event’s lackluster slips of expensive paper and weak musical lineup are not promising signs, to say the least.

Viral marketing, when done right, is effective — everyone gets borderline obsessive over finding the next clue in a mysterious grassroots campaign, and pretty soon you have a fan-base frenzy of Dark Knight proportions. The whole point is to build anticipation, and to make us want to know more — which is exactly why dropping the headliners’ names with absolutely no lead-ing is one big fat letdown.

That’s not to say that A.S. Concerts & Events hasn’t succeeded in the game of pre-Sun God buzz in past years. Former A.S. Vice President of Concerts & Events Garrett Berg’s Baby Sun God search left cryptic clues on Twitter of where to look for the little guys, offering prizes to anybody who happened upon one while crossing the eucalyptus grove. Campaigns like that get you 500 followers and a campus full of students frantically checking their cell phones for the next A.S. message. Imagine that.

Dropping a few bookmarks on a bench, however, completely ignores the surefire rules of playing hard to get. There’s nothing to decode and no need to devote any thought to figuring out what’s going on aside from trying to remember the lyrics to that other Drake song.

In short: You really fucked this one up, ASCE.

At least in the past the final announcement arrived with a little fanfare, over a loudspeaker at the Battle of the Bands to a huge crowd. This time, says AVP of Concerts and Events Alex Bramwell, the news will just be added to the Sun God Web site.

Loud things through megaphones offer students an opportunity to cheer. UCSD doesn’t get a whole lot of chances to lose its marbles, and the latest replacement of one of those moments with an anti-climactic bookmark is a worrying sign of the weeks to come.

At the very least, ASCE could have saved the headliner for the big Monday reveal. Giving us a reason to hold our breath is the basic rule of announcing anything — that’s why they always save first place for last.

Although every once in a while it’s nice to tap into our inner 12-year-olds (I love you, Michelle), it’s hard to shake the feeling that Sun God 2010 is going to be a drastically less awesome version of Sun God 2009, however uncaged the daytime festivities find themselves to be.

We’ve got DJ Z-Trip serving as the Girl Talk emulator — and, like last year’s mashup god, his dance tent party might end up being the ultimate draw for this year’s festivities. We have some reservations, though. Z-Trip may have rightfully earned concert cred for fathering the mashup movement, that doesn’t mean he’s the best around — Girl Talk is his more fluid and infinitely less stodgy grandson, and there are more just like him who have taken what Z-Trip started and run with it. Needless to say, this year’s dance tent may be lacking some essential groove.

Relient K and Thrice are essentially identical as Christian-rock bands, albeit more rollicking versions of last year’s Augustana. Sara Bareilles and Michelle Branch go head to head for “cute female artist with fun pop vibe,” though the difference here is that Branch is going to capitalize on all the soft spots she hit with girls who still remember the lyrics to “Everywhere” in middle school.

There’s one act, however, that’s got us worried; the one with the Top-40 hit who is, yes, “a really big name right now,” but doesn’t exactly have a whole lot to back it up: the one and only Drake. We’re having horrific flashbacks to Sun God 2008, when Sean Kingston flopped onstage and didn’t even finish the one song we came to see him sing. Peruse a couple of live Drake performances online and you’ll see he’s got a knack for shouting over the pretty part of the song, and then cutting it off like a real jerk.

Still, there are three more unannounced bands coming to the main stage, and Bramwell says there are still some decent-sized names he’s kept under wraps.

Here’s to hoping that Monday’s announcement will awaken the so-far gloomy Sun God spirit in all of us.

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