For the first time since 1998, Yale’s Spring Fling will feature an all-female lineup with Ari Lennox, the Aces, Elohim and Rico Nasty.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the spring concert, where students celebrate the end of classes and blow off steam before final exams begin. According to Spring Fling Committee chairs Lydia Schooler ’21, Max Sahlins ’21 and Isabella Epstein ’21, the committee intentionally sought an all-female lineup. While reflecting critically upon past performances, the committee noticed that out of 60 past performances, only 13 included at least one female member.
“We wanted to challenge ourselves to be more inclusive, and invite artists that speak to Yale’s diverse student body in terms of both musical interest and identity,” Schooler said. “We have these conversations every year, but this year, the lineup diversity was really at the forefront of our minds.”
Schooler noted that the committee’s decision to have an all-female lineup was made independent of the university’s 50WomenAtYale150 celebration. She said they believe the student body “owns the anniversary” as much as the University does, and it is necessary for the student body to engage with the University’s gendered history on its own terms.
Yet Schooler added that, rather than focus the lineup on a “demographic common denominator,” the committee also wishes to emphasize the talent and artistic variability of the individual artists they invited.
The committee’s selection process depends directly on the results of the student survey they send out each fall. The survey is compiled after committee discussion, when artist names are recommended by members based on availability and price range. Sahlins said students often incorrectly assume that artists listed on the survey are infeasible. He clarified that the committee adds feasible, budget-friendly artists to the survey, and uses the results to inform their next steps.
According to Epstein, this year’s survey indicated a wide range of musical preferences. A larger number of students expressed preferences for an R&B artist than in past years. As a result, the committee attempted to both expand the number of genres represented at the festival and invite an R&B artist, Epstein said.
This year’s selection spans four genres. Ari Lennox is on the rise in the R&B community, with a “funky, soulful energy” and an “incredible voice,” according to Epstein. Lennox was the first woman signed to J. Cole’s record label and is a prominent artist at Coachella this year. The next artist, Elohim, creates electronic music influenced by alternative pop. Sahlins said that Elohim has pioneered her own path in a male-dominant genre by providing the vocals for her own productions.
The Aces, an indie pop band from Utah, will be the first band to perform at Spring Fling in five years. Schooler said that the indie and pop genres usually receive a great deal of attention in the survey, but the committee hasn’t been able to cater to these requests in recent years. The final artist, Rico Nasty, is at the intersection of rap, grunge and hardcore punk. Schooler said that her performances are “raw and emotional, yet intense and hype,” and added that she will represent a genre students have traditionally enjoyed.
Schooler added that these artists are currently growing in popularity. The committee is excited to introduce students to a “new kind of sound.”
“We know that not everyone will be over the moon over all four acts, but with such a broad range of genre, we hope that there is at least one act everyone can really look forward to,” Epstein said.
To make these selections, the committee researched performances by the artists in venues similar to Spring Fling, the artists’ ability to connect with audiences and their stage presence. Sahlins said the committee also researched each performer’s reputation. For the first time this year, the committee hired an external vetting agent — a person who tracks artists’ referrals and reviews — to further inform their decisions. Still, they ran into challenges because Spring Fling is held close to other prominent musical festivals, the committee members said.
Following the announcement at Toads on Wednesday night, students expressed excitement about the committee’s choices.
“I think it’s very good, very diverse — there was indie, hip-hop. It was also unexpected,” said Rodrigo Chousal Cantu ’23.
Miranda Rector ’20 said the announcement “made her entire senior year.”
“I love Ari Lennox; I listened to her exclusively this summer … Her album ‘Shea Butter Baby’ changed my life,” Rector said.
Still, several students interviewed by the News did not recognize any of the artists.
This year, Sahlins said the committee “swung to the other end of the pendulum” by investing in a multi-act Spring Fling, instead of focusing their budget on a single headliner. This connects to the committee’s goal of “leaning into the festival aspect” of Spring Fling by creating a balance with an “ebb and flow” during the day. They will continue last year’s initiative of selling official merchandise and collaborate with creatives to install art across campus. The committee hopes this will transform Spring Fling into a daylong event instead of a series of disparate acts, according to Epstein. Sahlins added that they hope to create “an experience that lasts.”
The concert will take place on Old Campus on April 25.
Freya Savla | firstname.lastname@example.org
This article has been updated to reflect the print version in the Feb. 6 issue of the News.