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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A guide to the sounds of Springfest

Published: April 29, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

May 1 marks the date for Springfest, an all-day outdoor music festival hosted by Student Events and WBRS, which is one of the most anticipated events of the year. This year’s festival will feature of Montreal and Far East Movement, as well as DOM and rapper Aziz, a current Brandeis first-year.

“It used to be a small show with only smaller bands performing,” Alyssa Folickman ’11, director of concerts for Student Events, wrote via e-mail.

“Over the past few years it has evolved into a larger event headlined by more well-known artists.”

The process of planning Springfest and booking bands took about six months.

Student Events has known this year’s lineup since February, but they were only able to make the official announcement April 9 after all the contracts between the artists and the school had been signed.

Although the bands are the major attraction of Springfest, there are other aspects of the event that add to the festival-like atmosphere. This includes free food such as pizza, snowcones, cotton candy and popcorn, as well as beer for those 21 and older with two forms of ID.

Additionally, there will be many giveaways sponsored by Student Events and WBRS. Eight organizations will also be tabling at the event, including the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, which will be occurring at the same time as Springfest this year. Although the Creative Arts Festival and Springfest promote each other, they are planned independently of one another. This is the third year in a row they have coincided on the same weekend.

To give a taste of what will probably be played on Sunday, here are biographies of the headlining bands, along with lists of singles and additional songs you should listen to in order to get a deeper feel for the band’s sound.

Far East Movement

Far East Movement, or FM for short, is an Asian-American band best known for the song “Like a G6.” They’ve rapidly gained popularity in the last few years. In fact, they have the distinction of being the first Asian-American group to earn a Top 10 spot on the Billboard Mainstream Pop charts in the United States.

The fact that they are Asian-American has simultaneously had a lot and very little to do with their music. Although they are trying to establish themselves as capable Asian-American artists, they are also trying to establish themselves as musicians alone. The band name “Far East Movement” describes their goal as a group, to bring Asian-American music to the mainstream. However, that is not to deter from the fact they just want to make music. Many people that listen to Far East Movement are not even aware they are Asian. As Kev Nish said in a Hyphen Magazine interview in 2008, “To us, that’s a compliment. It means they felt we sounded authentic to how they hear hip hop music. Hopefully the next time they hear or see an Asian artist it won’t be as much of a shock.”

The phrase “Far East Movement” was the name of one of their first songs as a group. First formed in 2001 as “Emcee’s Anonymous,” its original members were Kevin Nishimura (Kev Nish), James Roh (Prohgress) and Jae Choung (J-Splif). The trio grew up in Koreatown in Los Angeles and were friends in high school. After playing a few events, they decided to change their name to Far East Movement.

Their first album as a group was 2006’s “Folk Music,” which featured the single “Round Round.” “Round Round” was featured in “The Fast and the Furious: Toyko Drift.” This publicity was their first time being exposed to the world and was one of the reasons FM decided to pursue music as a full-time career.

Soon afterwards, DJ Vermin joined the group as its DJ; together, they released “Lowridin” as their next single which led to their second album, “Animal.” This album also gained attention, as they had collaborated with many artist including Bruno Mars and Bionik. “Animal” also featured the single “Girls on the Dance Floor,” which has been played frequently in movies and on television shows, the most popular of which being “America’s Best Dance Crew.” In 2010, FM signed a major record deal with Cherrytree Records, marking a whole new era for FM as a band. Additionally, in April 2010, they signed on as the opening act for the Asian portion of Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour. They also opened for Mike Posner from September to October 2010.

FM released “Free Wired,” their first major and most recent album, on Oct. 12, 2010. This record has been their most popular record so far and includes collaborations with Keri Hilson, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg and Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic. In addition to featuring “Like a G6,” FM also recently released the single “Rocketeer” featuring Ryan Tedder.

FM’s music can be described as a combination of hip hop and electronica with some rock influences. All of their songs have a dance feel, which promises a high-energy show.

of Montreal

Though currently consisting of eight members, the band of Montreal rests mainly on the shoulders of Kevin Barnes. Named after a failed relationship he had with a girl from Montreal, Barnes composes, produces and plays most of the instruments for the band.

Of Montreal has been around for quite a while, having been founded in 1996 by Barnes himself in Athens, Georgia. The band has 10 full-length albums under its belt, as well as nine EPs and six compilation albums. Each album’s style varies and can be described as featuring traits from indie rock to psychedelic pop, electronica to experimental, vaudeville to Baroque pop.

While the earlier albums had a very tangible melody line with a conventional verse/chorus/verse lineup, especially in their first album “Cherry Peel,” their more recent albums like “False Priest” and “Skeletal Lamping” are rarely predictable. In fact, when listening to “Skeletal Lamping,” it is hard to discern track breaks into new songs. Each song has a variety of sections and emotions, the whole of which can be overwhelming at times but mostly inspiring.

“Cherry Peel,” the group’s first album, was released in 1997. It features mostly acoustic songs of unrequited love and general feelings of love. In the song “Don’t Ask Me To Explain,” Barnes sings, “I’d want to marry all of my close friends, / And live in a big house together by the angry sea.” This romanticism is only a hint of what was to come in his following albums, although it manifested itself in many different ways.

Additionally, in this album, it is apparent that, though Barnes feels very strongly about certain ideas, he can recognize how absurd some of his notions are. In the song “Tim, I Wish You Were Born a Girl,” for example, Barnes sings about how he wishes his male best friend was in fact born a female so he could “Make you spaghetti with a little bit of tomato sauce.” At the end of the song, though, he laments, “I’m not saying you can’t be all these things for me ’cause you’re a man and so am I,” a sad but half-joking conclusion to Barnes’ emotions. However, this album got many negative reviews that led Barnes to refrain from writing about personal issues until several albums later.

Of Montreal released their aptly-named second album, “The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy,” in 1998. It is the story of a couple from their meeting (“Very Few of a Kind”) to the end of their relationship (“It’s Easy to Sleep When You’re Dead”). It feels as if it is a story that a father would tell his son as a bedtime story, with overdramatizing and silly voices included. The album is a bit less emotional than the first one, but it was a necessary step for the band to take in order to develop their sound.

The band released three more albums before signing to new label Polyvinyl and releasing “Satanic Panic in the Attic” in 2004 and “The Sunlandic Twins” in 2005. At this point, of Montreal finally realized how to make the sound they wanted via synthesizer.

From that point on, Barnes pushed the limits of what makes music by using a variety of sounds, including his own loud dryer.

Additionally, Barnes’ growth as a writer is apparent as he realized how to convey how he felt via words, making many literary and Greek mythology references as well as writing clever, sexually-charged lines.

Of Montreal’s concerts are always very elaborate, with Barnes often getting into his glam rock persona named “Georgie Fruit,” after one of the characters he created in the album “The Gay Parade.”

Barnes is also known for taking off his pants, if not all of his clothes, while performing.