Capital Cities headlines FlashFest

Katy Coduto

To celebrate 20 years of Flashfest, Kent State’s Undergraduate Student Government brought Capital Cities to the new Student Green to cap off a day full of music and sunshine. This year, FlashFest was part of the Campus Consciousness Tour, which aimed to promote environmental friendliness.

Kent State students came to the new Student Green to party and have a good time to wrap up the semester, while somewhat unknowingly supporting the environment in the process. One kid was adamant that, “I came to Flashfest to get drunk.” Another “came to jump.” The show had generally mixed reviews from students at the end of the night, although most admitted they were glad they went.

The change of venues to the Student Green was especially well-received, as students were able to take advantage of the cool summer night. Senior applied communications major Jarrod Will was one of the students pleased with the change of scenery.

“I liked it on the Student Green, and I really love having it outside,” he said. “But [the Student Green] didn’t seem as crowded. There was actually a lot of room.”

There was plenty of open space across the Green early on in the day for early performers like local DJs Dominic Parisi and alt-rockers Scavenger Hunt. With students still in class, those students who could attend early were impressed with the early offerings.

Scavenger Hunt left an impression on senior advertising major Molly Smith that carried her through the night.

“The style and overall feel of the band made me want to stay at FlashFest,” she said. “Scavenger Hunt was by far one of the most impressive acts of the night.”

Rapper Ab-Soul took to the stage just as the sun was setting, and he put forth every effort to get the crowd going. Even he acknowledged that playing in the sunset wasn’t ideal — “I would have you raise your lighters, but that would be redundant”  — and mostly performed songs from 2012’s “Control System.”

The Top Dawg Entertainment rapper definitely understood what his job was for the 40 minutes he was on stage: get the crowd hyped. He engaged the audience almost constantly, stopping songs so the crowd could sing along and fill in the gaps — even those in the far back. Ab-Soul acknowledged the group near the front displaying huge “HiiiiPower” signs made especially for him and even played the “which-side-of-the-audience-is-louder” game.

Opening with “Track Two” was the perfect introduction to his set, which maintained a nearly textbook balance of intensity and poise.

In one interesting twist, Ab-Soul paused from his original material to play three TDE-companion ScHoolboy Q tracks: “Collard Greens,” “Man of the Year” and “Break the Bank” finally pushed the crowd to the levels of turnt that Ab-Soul was threatening with his own tracks, including “SOPA.”

Ab-Soul’s strongest moment definitely came with “Terrorist Threats,” giving him solid footing coming off of Q’s work. He closed with “Pineal Gland” just as the Green was finally getting crowded.

With students pushing to get to the front and rushing to the Green as classes ended, dance-pop headliners Capital Cities appeared on stage.

Their set was strange, and it wasn’t long until the same question was being asked over, and over, and over: “Is this ‘Safe and Sound?’” The group’s signature track felt like it would never happened, as Capital Cities spent the first 40 minutes of their set dragging through unfamiliar material and cover songs that were slowed down to the point of awkwardness.

Senior integrated mathematics major Aaron Buell put it this way: “It was subpar compared to every other year. These bands weren’t that great compared to other years.”

The crowd was so antsy for activity that the crowd-surfing began and could not be stopped. Students fell over and threw each other in the air with no hesitation, and not one of them could stop smiling. They could have easily crowd-surfed in silence and been just as happy. Most students tapped out when the group played the first chords to Weezer’s “The Sweater Song.” It just didn’t match the expectations of Capital Cities as a danceable group.

At one point, someone started yelling requests for “Talk Dirty to Me” — which is by Jason Derulo.

However, Capital Cities turned it around midway through, introducing new single “One Minute More” and leaning heavily on their synths for songs that actually made everyone want to move. When they started encouraging jumping and dancing, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for.

And everyone obliged.

Of course, the crowd lost it when Capital Cities finally played “Safe and Sound” — and then played the top 20 track again to close the set.

By the time “Safe and Sound” had run its course, the earliest parts of the initially dragging set were long forgotten, and the ensuing light show won over plenty of doubters.

Will said he was among those who ended up truly enjoying himself.

“Capital Cities were great; it was a great time,” he said. “And my favorite part overall? The amount of asses that went past my face with everyone crowd-surfing.”  

Contact Katy Coduto at [email protected].