Despite a moderate turnout for the annual Labor Day weekend bacchanal, this year’s edition of Fall Fest, featuring pop duo Timeflies and mashup artist DJ Earworm, still managed to electrify University Yard.
Opening act DJ Earworm is a San Francisco-based artist best known for his annual “United States of Pop” series, which combines the 25 biggest songs of the year. He is the second mashup artist on the Fall Fest stage in the last three years, with Girl Talk, the first, having headlined the 2011 event. Kicking things off with a mix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” over an electronic backing track, Earworm strung together songs spanning genres, styles, and eras, always looking to surprise the audience with the diverse selection of songs combined. His ability to play the 38-year-old Bruce Springsteen classic “Born to Run” and Robin Thicke’s four-day-old “Give It 2 U” in the same set took talent, but lacked a certain artistic feel. The tracks spun were danceable and while many of the soundscapes were impressive, it felt as though he was trying to cram as many songs into his set as possible. Unlike Girl Talk, the set was not one continuous string, but rather, a set separated by noticeable transitions. Those finer points, however, were lost on the crowd, as they enjoyed hearing some of their favorite songs played in ways they had never heard before.
After a short break in between sets, University Yard began to fill up for the headliner. Timeflies, a duo consisting of two Tufts University alums, producer Rob Resnick and vocalist Cal Shapiro, may not be a household name, but there were several audience members sporting Timeflies merchandise along the front fence. Their music, which mostly consisted of freestyling over electronic-inspired beats and sample-based hooks, was certainly not the biggest selling point for the duo. The music was mostly uninspired and unoriginal, but many members of the crowd swooned over heartthrob and vocalist Cal Shapiro, whose stage performance was engaging. His twenty-something Jewish suburban swagger won over many of the similar-minded fans. One of his songs freestyled to topics provided by members of the audience such as the Boston Celtics, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and sorority Alpha Phi, using the melody from the 1996 film Space Jam. The centerpiece of the performance was a well-researched shout-out to GW, including mentions of losing a fake ID at McFadden’s, food from Jumbo Slice and GW Deli, and a solid dig at the GW Hatchet. There were also raps using choruses from The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” and the Disney film The Little Mermaid‘s “Under the Sea”. While the raps were not particularly great, these recognizable hooks kept the crowd engaged. They finished with their impassioned single “I Choose U,” which felt juvenile but had a danceable beat.
Although Timeflies and DJ Earworm did not bring any groundbreaking masterpieces or much musical originality to the Fall Fest stage, that isn’t the purpose of Fall Fest. Fall Fest is not held for music aficionados–it’s held for college students looking to enjoy their first full weekend back on campus, and to act as background music to the carefree fun of a young school year. Fall Fest 2013 served that purpose masterfully.