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Dominic Fike breathes life into virtual Springfest concert

UPC hosts livestream and in-person watch party at Amphitheater Friday night

Let’s face it — we are all desperate to go to concerts again. There is nothing quite like it. Tickets are overpriced, you can’t see over the tall guy in front of you and someone will definitely elbow you in the head in their fit of excitement, but we love them anyway. Nothing truly compares to dragging all of your friends to JPJ to see your favorite band perform. One of the biggest letdowns of the past year was all the canceled concerts and postponed tours. Some artists have turned to virtual alternatives to in-person performances.

The University Programs Council hosted singer-songwriter Dominic Fike virtually Friday night as part of their annual Springfest programming. Springfest always promises a great week of events right here on Grounds. Past headliners have included Daniel Caesar, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals and MisterWives, who drew massive student crowds to University venues. Last spring, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but UPC was able to proceed with Springfest this year, moving some parts of the programming to a virtual format.

Fike broke into the music scene in 2018 with the release of his first EP, “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos.” Every radio station and Spotify playlist in the country blasted “3 Nights” for the entirety of Summer 2019, but Fike is no one-hit wonder. Last year, he released his first full-length studio album, titled “What Could Possibly Go Wrong.” He proved without a doubt that he is here to stay. Fike’s versatile, genre-blending sound is raw but catchy, and the recent album is populated by both radio hits and artful sound experiments.

It undoubtedly must be difficult for artists used to sold-out stadiums and screaming fans to perform without an audience in the building, but Fike delivered both great music and a great show. Opening with his recent release “The Kiss of Venus (Dominic Fike)” — a brilliant collaboration with Paul McCartney — he conveyed an easy stage presence that remained unshaken by the obstacles presented by the digital format. A charismatic entertainer, Fike commanded attention — even over livestream. Highlights of the night included performances of hits like “Babydoll” and “3 Nights.”

UPC also brought their A game, working tactfully to ensure a good time without violating the University's COVID-19 gathering restrictions. They hosted an in-person, COVID-responsible watch party at the Amphitheater, where attendees could socially distance up in the seats or in the grass on blankets to watch the livestream. Most people claimed their UPC merch before the show and sported their new Springfest bucket hats for the evening. Everyone who was able to attend enjoyed perfect spring weather and a much-needed break from studying for upcoming finals.

“We have been planning the event for about three months now, and our goal was to unite the University community through music, both virtually and in-person,” said Akhil Rekulapelli, UPC vice chair of programming and third-year College student, in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “With Springfest as a whole, our goal was to provide students with a celebration at the end of a certainly challenging year.”

After a long winter of cold weather and pandemic-necessitated solitude, the UPC event was one of the first times in recent memory that life at the University felt normal. Besides sitting six feet apart at all times and wearing masks, it was an evening straight out of the good old days of 2019. We all hoped circumstances would allow for an in-person Springfest this year, but UPC’s efforts exceeded all expectations.

Dominic Fike gave a fantastic show. It’s safe to say that our cravings for a good concert have been satisfied, and he might have even won some new fans. Maybe next year we’ll finally get to drag our friends to see him in concert at JPJ.

Note: Rekulapelli is also a sports editor for The Cavalier Daily.