Note: This article has been updated to reflect the changes in the lineup.
Sun God awakens from its pandemic-induced slumber and is ready to party!
UC San Diego’s Sun God Festival is the university’s flagship annual event, given the honor of “Top 5 College Concerts That Should Be Actual Festivals” by Live Nation. However, Sun God has remained dormant since 2020, with that year’s festival being canceled due to the rise of COVID-19. However, along with improvements in COVID viral activity on campus, the Associated Students’ Concerts & Events (ASCE) department seeks to revive the festival after its short hiatus.
Sun God Festival is set to take place on April 30 from 12–6 p.m. on RIMAC Field. Students can register for tickets on the UCSD Box Office website and are free for all undergraduate students; ASCE also stated that students who have already graduated during the 2021–2022 academic year can still attend the event.
Although the event is primarily aimed towards undergraduates, graduate students can attend the event for $40. Upon registration or purchase, students will have access to the one-of-a-kind experience of Sun God that ASCE has established over its 40 year existence.
A large part of this experience is the line up of big name artists. Previous Sun God lineups include notable artists like Vince Staples and Joji in 2019, ScHoolboy Q in 2017, Snoop Dog and Jhene Aiko in 2015, Kendrick Lamar in 2013, and Drake in 2010.
The 2022 lineup currently includes headliner Iann Dior, Peach Tree Rascals, Keshi, UMI, and Berhana. Iann Dior is a rapper from Puerto Rico, most known for his features on songs like “Mood” by 24kGoldn. Peach Tree Rascals are a band hailing from San Jose, California. The group is known for their hit song “Mariposa,” an upbeat, joyous song, as well as others like “Mango” and “I’m Sorry.” If Peach Tree Rascals are the uptempo group of the event, Keshi is the more low tempo artist. A Vietnamese-American artist representing Houston, Texas is known for his falsetto-y ballads about love and heartbreak sung over hip-hop beats. Notable songs of his include “like i need you” and “beside you.” UMI from Seattle, Washington, who also makes R&B music. UMI’s most notable track is her 2018 release “Remember Me” that features an easygoing guitar rift and drums accompanied by vocals that can make listeners melt into their seats. The last, but certainly not least, of the revealed artists is Berhana, an R&B artist from Atlanta, Georgia, known for his most recent 2019 album “HAN” that features soulful lounge songs like “California.” Obtaining artists like those previously mentioned is a long process that requires logistics on the student body front and music industry front.
When planning the Sun God festival, ASCE takes multiple factors into account. Carolina Parra Solorio, Senior Associate Vice President for ASCE, noted that Sun God takes place after weekend one and before weekend two of Coachella. Time issues like this determine which artists ASCE can try and book. Another aspect that ASCE has to consider is artists’ citizenship. Whether the artist is a California local, out-of-state or even international adds another layer of logistics.
However, the main aspect that Solorio is concerned with are the students.
“Something that we always keep in mind when looking for these artists when planning is the survey that we send out at the very beginning of the school year,” Solorio said “That survey is targeted towards the students to ask about what kind of music genres they are interested in. ‘Are there any artists that they would like to see in the festivals?’ It’s a pretty extensive survey and I think that’s the major pool that my team and I work around.”
Besides, given the current reality of the pandemic and COVID-19, ASCE must balance between taking pandemic prevention measures and delivering the best possible experience to students. In order to register for Sun God, students must fulfill UCSD’s COVID-19 requirements by April 27, meaning students must at least have one vaccine shot by that day. Students will also be required to wear masks throughout the duration of the event, not including when eating in specified areas.
ASCE also had to consider the layout of the festival as they’re making great efforts to put numerous attractions to keep students from bundling into large crowds. Lastly, ASCE understands that some students may still be suffering financial strains from the pandemic, or others will simply need to eat something as a result of substances taken before the festival, and, as such, are in talks with food vendors to either lower prices of their goods or accept dining dollars.
“A lot of students might not be financially stable or financially in a place to buy a $15 hot dog, and that’s something we talk to vendors about,” Solorio said. “We are [also] under the impression that people might not eat [prior to the event], and before they attend the festival people will be under the influence. Whether that’s drugs or alcohol — which we don’t condone — in the case of someone not feeling very well and needs to eat something, that resource is available to them.”
Aside from the physical logistical changes and a greater emphasis on student safety because of COVID-19, ASCE sees this as an opportunity for Sun God to be completely different from what the previous 40 years have demonstrated to students.
“[Because of COVID-19], we’re able to reimagine what the festival will look like this year by scrapping everything we once knew and starting pretty much new,” Solorio said. “Most of the staff that I am working with has never had the opportunity to see Sun God, let alone attend one, so that being said, we’re all starting brand new and it’s giving us the experience and opportunity to reimagine it they way that we think…will make their UCSD experience the most thrilling and exciting.”
Solorio brought up a great point about her staff that could apply to a large portion of the student population, primarily third year students and younger: they have never experienced a Sun God. First through third year students would experience their first, but third year students are the cohort that had the festival canceled right before their very eyes.
Here’s what some students have to say about the festival:
u/TearsAreInYourEyes (Third-year — asked to remain anonymous): I was pretty disappointed that it was canceled. Joji was playing the year before and I hoped UCSD would bring another artist like him to 2020. Kinda disappointed [with] this Sun God so far, but it’ll be fun to go since it’s something different. ASCE has done some fun stuff over the years, like bring[ing] Josh Peck, Phoebe Bridgers, and Jimmy O Yang to name a few.
Nicole (Third-year): As a third year, I wasn’t too hyped for it in my freshman year, though I’ll say that seeing the lineup for Sun God in 2019 made me excited. Sun God 2020 didn’t seem too far along announcement wise so that’s probably why I wasn’t too excited. Now that I’ve missed two years of it, I’m just excited to meet people with similar music tastes. Fortunately, I like the artists they have lined up.
Celeste Huggins (Third-year): I was really disappointed but honestly there were bigger things to worry about besides Sun God 2020. The lack of a Sun God 2021 was honestly more disappointing because it felt like things would never get better. I’m actually really excited to be in a space where people are just there to have a good time because it’s felt like that hasn’t been available the last few years.
Amy Trinh (First-year): I’m really looking forward to experiencing live music with my friends and just overall having a good time with them. I honestly feel kinda lucky that Sun God is coming back right on time for my first year, so then I could possibly experience four different lineups during my years here at UCSD.
Needless to say, Sun God has risen from its nap and is ready to give students an experience they surely won’t forget.
Image courtesy of Angela Liang for the UCSD Guardian
Note: This article has been updated to reflect the changes in the lineup.