Reporter’s Notebook: Gull Fest

Thoughts, Observations and Conclusions from Sunday’s Snafu

Before Mac Miller went on stage at Gull Fest. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

Before Mac Miller went on stage at Gull Fest. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

MITCHELL NORTHAM
Sports Editor
@primetimeMitch

On Salisbury University’s East Campus, next to the parking garage and across from an under construction stadium lies the intramural sports fields. But on Sunday it was the venue for confusion and chaos as Gull Fest took place.

The theme this year for Gull Fest – Salisbury University’s annual concert – wasn’t Loud, Classic or another popular song by one of their performers. Whether SOAP – SU’s Student Organization for Activity Planning – wanted it to be or not, the theme and what people will remember about this year’s concert was an array of misunderstandings.

As the sunny Sunday afternoon turned into a cool night, the day of concert was overshadowed and beset by miscommunication, big egos and surprises that should not have been all that surprising.

The bewilderment began when the media members of the Flyer and WXSU arrived to pick up their credentials. In emails, media members were told that the passes would allow them backstage to interview the performers which included pop band MKTO, singer Jessie J. and marijuana-powered rapper Mac Miller.

Jessie J. performed Sunday at Gull Fest sporting an SU t-shirt. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

Jessie J. performed Sunday at Gull Fest sporting an SU t-shirt. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

Except – and apparently unknown to SOAP officials until an hour before the opening act – none of the artists agreed to do interviews. They all refused to do any press, including photos.

SOAP’s concert chair pulled members of the media aside about 40 minutes before MKTO was set to take the stage to inform them that the artists would not be available for interviews. To make matters even worse, media members weren’t even allowed to attempt to get interviews, as their access to backstage was revoked making the press passes worthless as media members still had to pay for tickets to get in.

Access to backstage would have allowed the journalists and radio hosts to request interviews with the artists, their agents, their crew and their bands face-to-face. Perhaps the artists would have still ducked, but an interview with Mac Miller’s DJ, MKTO’s drummer or Jessie J.’s backup singers would have been informative and interesting to the students that paid for the tickets to see this show.

So instead of getting a quote from Jessie J, MKTO or someone in their or Mac Miller’s crew, the only lines that students got from the artists on Sunday was Jessie J. confusing soccer with American football and Mac Miller’s memorable and slurred quote about his childhood.

“When I was a kid, Salisbury is where I wanted to go play lacrosse at,” a stumbling Miller said to the crowd. “Then drugs and alcohol came into my life. Haha.”

The Flyer obtained a copy of Mac Miller’s requirements for his dressing room. It was given to our editorial editor – Chris Krauss – by a member of SOAP at the concert. Hours later, a source said that SOAP was furious that the list was posted on Twitter and was searching for who did it. I, Chris or any member of the staff was never approached about this issue.

In addition to Miller’s lengthy list of demands, a source told the Flyer that Jessie J. would not go on until SOAP brought her a juicer. They abided, Jessie J. went on and was the most entertaining act of the day, despite being a few minutes late.

Shortly after Flyer staff members were told that they would not be allowed backstage, SOAP was told that Mac Miller brought a surprise guest with him – rapper Domo Genesis from the hip-hop group Odd Future.

Domo Genesis coming with Mac Miller was unknown to SOAP until Sunday, although a flyer with tour dates that read “MAC MILLER WITH DOMO GENESIS” appeared on Mac Miller’s Instagram account on Thursday. The first venue and date listed was Salisbury University.

When they learned that he was there, SOAP had hoped that Domo Genesis would open up the show and play 10 to 20 minutes before MKTO took the stage, but Mac Miller demanded that Domo Genesis played before he did, which would put the Odd Future member after Jessie J. and before Mac.

SOAP succumbed to these artist’s demands and Domo performed two songs before Mac went on.

The day didn’t go without the appearance of the Salisbury Police Department either.

SPD officers stood across the outline of the venue, ensuring that there was no drinking or drug use and that no one got too rowdy. SPD officers stood at the gate with breathalyzers as well.

But through the smells of the crowd and actions of some of the students there it was obvious that alcohol and marijuana were consumed before entry or perhaps in the port-o-potties where the smell of weed, cheap beer and cigarette smoke was overwhelming.

According one Salisbury police officer, the crowd at Gull Fest was “pretty tame,” and they didn’t have to remove many people or refuse many at the gate.

“Not really. No more than usual,” the officer replied when asked if she had any trouble with the crowd.

The day also didn’t go without bad language from all of the artists, something that SOAP has tried to avoid in the past. Last year, SOAP stopped pursuing rapper Hoodie Allen for Gull Fest because of foul language in his songs.

“We have to get the person that comes approved by the community and the police and we didn’t think he would get approved,” SOAP secretary and treasurer Thresea Drumgoole told the Flyer in an interview at last year’s Gull Fest announcement. “Because of language and stuff. We try to keep it clean.”

Mac Miller on stage at Gull Fest. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

Mac Miller on stage at Gull Fest. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

The show on Sunday was kicked off with an F-Bomb when a member of MKTO yelled, “Make some (expletive) noise Salisbury!” just after their first song. After that, Jessie J. took her shirt off – she had a leather bikini top on under it – and Mac Miller rapped about codeine syrup, weed and women.

“We don’t condone drug use!” Miller said jokingly with a laugh before performing his song, Onaroll. “I just risked my check by saying ‘lose your (expletive) mind.’ and I’m fine with that, but we need to go (hard as a mother (expletive)) right now.”

Along with disorganization, one thing that Gull Fest will be remembered for this year is how the artists held Salisbury hostage.

The school isn’t big and it’s difficult to get big name acts to come to Salisbury or UMES. They know this and use it to their advantage. They know that their appearance on the lower Shore is a luxury to students and anything that isn’t going their way they will threaten to leave until it is changed.

And what is SOAP to do? Refund tickets to the student body if an act bails? Not likely.

So they bear down and do whatever these artists ask of them.

They need a juicer. They aren’t doing press. They aren’t using the pre-prepared dressing rooms in GUC. Their buddy is playing before them. They need food and drinks A, B and C.

Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok.

That’s all SOAP can say. Because it’s certainly better to abide by the artists demands and keep the media away than to have them leave Salisbury.

Or is it?

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