By John-Mark Brown
What I expected? Not really. What I wanted? Certainly not. What was bound to happen? Most definitely.
If you were on campus Friday, March 22nd, you were sure to see the makings of WAKEstock, a concert festival featuring headliners Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar. Gates and trailers covered a sprawling Davis Field. The stage, set at the bottom of the hill, glistened in early spring twilight. Excitement grew as gates opened and event staff waved security wands.
While the crowd gathered, a young female country artist and her band performed five songs. Bodies began to grow closer as Macklemore’s time drew near. The barricade, roughly 10 feet from the stage, propped up bodies filled with liquid excitement. Black Girls, a band of five white men from Richmond, VA, hit the stage. The group’s title: instantly captivating. Their sound: jam band with a littering vocalist. Soon, bodies were snug. Heat rose from drunken vessels. As Black Girls broke down the stage, one could vividly smell the ganja and alcohol, developing into a convention of quick-liquor-drunks with a disregard for anyone else’s personal space.
As Macklemore’s crew set up, bodies smashed against each other. Houston, we have reached MELTDOWN. Waves of shoving battered the sober concertgoer. One could hardly stand on his or her own in the untrustworthy tide. Like one of Dante’s circles, the scene morphed into hellacious reality.
Finally, Macklemore ran onto the stage, blonde hair wafting down the right side of his face. Celebration hit the crowd as “Ten Thousand Hours” began to roar. Yet the disorderly mass continued to war with itself. Sober folks had nightmares of a widespread trampling. After finishing “Same Love,” a song promoting marriage equality, Macklemore urged those committed to worldwide equality and fairness to raise one finger in the air. A number of attendees refused.
Six songs into their set, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were pulled from the stage so event organizers could space the crowd. The duo returned to perform once more, but the inebriated audience could not attend to itself. During their first song back, a Winston-Salem police officer meandered onto stage, tapping the rap artist on the shoulder without response before walking over to the sound board without result. Finally, he turned to Ryan Lewis and informed him to cut the track.
Following another long set up, during which much of the crowd bailed, Kendrick Lamar swagged onto stage. Lamar’s recently released album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, has received many positive reviews. It is a narrative that sweeps through the hip hop artist’s upbringing. Lamar provided a stellar set which contained new hits and old classics. His hyped performance lasted the entire intended time.
But an artist with such a beautifully relevant message had been cut short by his own generation. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis attempt to broaden minds and views, creating music about the joint experiences of millennials. Unfortunately, those at WAKEstock took that message to their heads, making it solely about themselves. Soaking in the festivities, concertgoers lapped up every last drop of selfish serum.