On the ground: At Fling, moshing and merriment

As Linda Chang ’12 defended her front-row spot at Tuesday’s Spring Fling, casual eye contact with rapper Wale’s guitarist, Drew White, ended with the artist sending a security guard to get Chang’s phone number.

“We hung out for a bit and so now I have Drew’s number, and a photo with him,” Chang said. “I feel kind of awesome.”

Girl Talk
Jared Shenson
Girl Talk

Chang, a freshman, could not compare her behind-the-scenes run-in with any past Spring Flings. But three student organizers and a dozen upperclassmen interviewed all described Tuesday’s concert as the most successful in recent memory. The concert was considerably longer than in years past, featuring five professional acts as well as three student bands.

For the Yale College Council and Yale Student Activities Committee members organizing the event, Spring Fling began at the crack of dawn Tuesday morning. Having built the stage the day before the event, the first shift of students showed up to Old Campus between 6 and 7 a.m. to set up light and sound equipment and prepare food and accommodations for the artists.

Fulfilling the artists’ requests took a significant amount of time, organizers said. The Decemberists, for example, provided an itemized list of 77 requests for their dressing room, band members and crew that included one bag of flavored Kettle Brand potato chips, one small bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin and one copy of The New York Times.

“The Decemberists didn’t like the salad we got them,” YSAC Chair Colin Leatherbury ’09 said.

N*ERD was less demanding, asking simply for an unspecified main entree, two side orders, dessert and beverages. Girl Talk’s requests included 100 rolls of cheap, one-ply toilet paper, a three-pack of size small white T-shirts and an R-rated movie of the organizers’ choice.

The crowd began making its way to Old Campus to hear the student bands around 2 p.m. Some students gathered near the stage to hear their friends in student bands, while other groups sat out on blankets and still others held parties in Old Campus suites.

Due to a few production mix-ups — for example, the production company hired by YCC ordered the wrong onstage earphones for indie alternative rock band The Decemberists — the student bands took the stage about half an hour behind schedule.

By the time rapper Wale started performing at around 4:30 p.m., undergraduate students, graduate students and staff members were flooding Old Campus through two entrances manned by Yale Security.

By 5:30 p.m., The Decemberists were more than ready to take the stage. Though The Decemberists’ tour manager expressed frustration that the event was running behind, YCC President Rich Tao ’10 said, the band delivered the full 75-minute set.

At one point, the band’s lead singer encouraged students to climb on each other’s shoulders and try to knock each other down. About 25 pairs of students took up the challenge, pushing each other in the middle of the crowd.

Meanwhile, student organizers began to prepare for funk-rock band N*ERD, who requested to be picked up in an Escalade and a BMW, Tao said. But organizers were surprised to learn that Pharrell Williams, the band’s front man, was not in either of the cars or the tour bus that arrived soon afterward. About half an hour before he was set to perform, Tao said, Williams arrived.

“Turns out Pharrell was just driving himself down from New York,” Tao said. “His tour bus had his entourage and a few other random band members.”

During N*ERD’s performance, Williams repeatedly exhorted students to crowd surf, at one point demanding that he wanted to see “10 crowd surfers and three mosh pits.” Students obliged as Williams slowly counted the crowd surfers appearing in the air, though many were promptly dropped.

Organizers also began preparing for the performance of mash-up DJ Girl Talk, who had requested that about 50 to 75 students join him onstage. After dozens of would-be dancers flooded the backstage area, Tao said Yale police became strict about regulating who was allowed behind the stage.

The police threatened to arrest student organizers who allowed their friends backstage, Tao said.

“I think they were a bit more strict than they should have been,” Tao said, though he understood the safety concerns behind the crackdown. “I don’t think they showed a lot of respect for the people organizing the event.”

As dozens of students gyrated around him, Girl Talk hovered over his turntable, growing increasingly sweaty and finally tearing off his white T-shirt. Crew members shot rolls of toilet paper into the air, draping those onstage in yards of white tissue.

Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith characterized the event as quieter than in past years. One individual not affiliated with the University was arrested for trespassing, while a student was ticketed for trespassing, she said. Another student was arrested for disorderly conduct.

Some freshman residents of Durfee Hall intermittently launched water balloons at the crowd below for about three hours, until security guards finally put a stop to the antics.

After Girl Talk’s performance, many students, worn out from the nearly nine-hour concert, went to bed early. Others headed off to the numerous after-parties.

But for the event’s organizers, the night was hardly over; cleanup lasted until 5:30 a.m. For Tao, it was the end of a yearlong job.

“This has been brewing in my head since last year this time,” Tao said. “It is just really nice to see it come together so nicely.”


  • Anonymous

    spring fling was amazing. nicely done, guys. musical variety, good performances (decemberists--way better live than on my computer!), good food, and good weather. seriously, A+, not least because old campus was clean this morning. all i can say is WOW.

  • Novemberists

    The Decemberists, it seems, possess the same fussy, fey, overanxious manias as those who enjoy their lousy derivative songs. 1991-2005 called: they want their crap music back!

  • weak

    i thought spring fling was pretty weak. i was excited going in, and disappointed going out. wale and NERD were the best acts in my mind. Girl Talk was a huge disappointment.


  • br '6; yls '09

    to the organizers:

    absolutely fantastic job. best spring fling in my seven years here.

  • Y09

    Ask any senior-- we are all in agreement that this was the best Spring Fling in our time here. Thanks for letting us end Yale with a bang!

  • CC '10

    Completely agree…this Spring Fling was the best I've seen, by far. N.E.R.D. was very solid.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, how many of us even remember a quarter of this? I was sort of bummed there was no big name artist (TI, Ludacris, Roots) like past years.

  • YYY

    I think Spring Fling should start later and end later. Start around 4 p.m. and end at 11 a.m.

  • TJ Smith

    NERD was absolutely sick. i developed a bro-crush on Pharrell.

  • YYY

    Woops. I meant 12 a.m. Otherwise, that would be a really long Spring Fling.

  • Anonymous

    great job, guys! what an amazing concert.

  • '12

    For the record…the water balloons weren't actually from freshmen, they were from upperclassmen who took over the entryway and left it completely trashed.

  • Y09

    I think the only Spring Fling that rivaled this one was with Ben Folds and Ludacris.

    And of course the YPD didnt respect the organizers. I hope you guys took their names and requested that these individuals not be employed at any YCC event next year.

  • Alum / Former YCC Rep.

    What frustrates me in this article is that, just like when I was a student working on Spring Fling, nobody has any respect for not trashing the campus. Just because its a fun party doesn't mean there should be piles of litter all over. Grow up and show some respect for the place - and the people who spent countless hours organizing it and who have to pick up your trash afterwards.

  • Jessica

    really, really great job planning this. i had a blast!

  • Yikes

    I'm going to agree with post #14- I was shocked to see how trashed Old Campus got by 5pm.

    Yo' its a gift to be here, let's not eff up the place!!

    The mess was embarassing.