Swedish pop star Gunther Levi professed his love for Yale to a full house at Commons Dining Hall on Friday night.
After 1,500 reserved tickets sold out in less than nine hours on Wednesday night, the concert crowd exceeded the 1,700-person capacity of the dining hall as students pushed and shoved to sneak by security and reuse tickets. Many students said they enjoyed the Gunther festivities, which included a Saybrook College Master’s Tea and dinner, but some said they had mixed feelings about the performance, citing its short duration and the rowdiness of the crowd.
The singer, performing alongside two of his “Sunshine Girls,” was on stage for less than an hour, during which time he repeated two of his most popular songs, “The Ding Dong Song” and “Tutti Frutti Summer Love,” at the audience’s request.
Some students said that while they enjoyed the show, they were disappointed by the length of Gunther’s performance.
“It was a little bit shorter than I thought it would be, but he hasn’t really had that many songs, so I didn’t expect much more,” Christine Yurechko ’08 said. “Also, he probably was lip-syncing, but it was still entertaining.”
Rachel Smith ’08 said the crowd around the stage became so rough during the show that several people were shoved to the ground.
“I was up by the middle of the stage, and people were just pushing,” she said. “That was kind of scary.”
Still, Joe Charlet ’09 said the room’s high level of energy made the concert enjoyable, especially once the headline performance began. He said the opening act, student hip-hop group 108 Tongues, did not quite match Gunther’s enthusiasm.
Gunther, whose real name is Mats Soderlund, also spoke on his life, music and recent success at a Saybrook Master’s Tea Thursday afternoon, which drew approximately 190 students.
“I don’t see me as a character because I’m born like this,” he said at the tea.
Many students said they found the tea fun and entertaining, though some said they were put off by the crudeness of some of the questions posed by audience members.
Yurechko said she enjoyed the tea more than Friday night’s concert.
“I think that people did have good questions, and they tried to break through the shell of his character a little bit,” she said. “He definitely keeps that air of mystery around him.”
Daniel Lim ’06 said he thought Miller was uncomfortable with some of the blatantly sexual questions asked at the tea, including one posed by the singer’s American manager about his penis size. Lim said the Gunther tea was unlike similar events he had attended.
“There were very few attempts to ask him serious questions, and when there were, he didn’t really answer them,” he said. “It was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t your usual Master’s Tea.”
Saybrook Master Mary Miller said she enjoyed hosting the event and was impressed by Gunther’s ability to field inflammatory questions appropriately.
“I don’t think anyone who attended either of the events expected intellectual profundity,” Miller said in an e-mail. “Gunther polishes a polite presence, it seems to me, and so he gently deflected any questions that might have verged on the inappropriate.”
Gunther and the Sunshine Girls also dined with approximately 40 students at Miller’s house Thursday evening, though the singer arrived for dinner more than an hour late after getting lost on the way. But several students who attended the meal said it was a success despite the delay.
Dylan Stern ’08 said he thought the dinner gave students the opportunity to see a different side of Gunther.
“I think his stage persona is different than the real human being, and I think at the dinner we got someone kind of in between,” he said.
The Committee for Campus-wide Activities spent almost all of the $16,000 allocated by the Yale College Council for the event, which was sponsored by the Saybrook 12-pack, YCC representative and CCA member Bill Fishel ’08 said. The total cost of the Gunther visit was $15,875, Fishel said, pending final billing.
In an interview before the show, Gunther shared some love advice for struggling Yale men.
“Show respect,” he said. “Respect and love. It’s a good thing for everything. And, of course, presents.”
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