slice of life

Bourque: Cheat Codes may have hacked the game that is Mayfest

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Cheat Codes was music columnist Jenny Bourque's favorite act because of the way they connected with the audience.

Though Vic Mensa’s cancellation due to travel plans may have put a damper on the day for some, the Mayfest and Block Party activities didn’t miss the mark entirely.

The highlight of the day, without a doubt, was Cheat Codes. Their set was packed with high energy, and unexpected remixes of songs like “Seven Nation Army,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Champagne Supernova,” and “September” kept the audience wildly entertained. It was a long set, but no one in the crowd ever seemed bored. Friends were carrying other friends on their shoulders, and the audience jumped in sync with the performers.

While there is usually some kind of invisible wall between the crowd and the stage during performances, Cheat Codes managed to completely eliminate that barrier, bringing performer-audience interaction to the highest level. This dynamic peaked when a guy in the audience tossed his hat and the lead singer caught it and put it on for a song.

The trio unfortunately experienced some technical difficulties during their set, but after a few minutes of silent confusion, they bounced right back. A situation like this could completely ruin a performance, but they made the audience forget it even happened.

While Cheat Codes was definitely the high-point, they were not the only good part of the day. Moxie Raia started the day off on the right foot, providing simple yet catchy jams to get people in the mood for the exciting day ahead. She mentioned recently going through a breakup, which explains the occasional slow jam to “get in [her] feelings,” but she made sure to bring it back up. She closed her set with a song she admitted to writing merely three days ago, the title—“F*ckboy”—making the audience scream and cheer, and dance soon after.

Headliner Vic Mensa’s replacement was rapper Tunji Ige, who was well-meaning, but mostly served as background noise while people piled out to prep for Block Party. This is rough for University Union, who suffered the cancellation of the headliner of Juice Jam, Fetty Wap, earlier this school year.

Block Party had high expectations to meet, and while it may have fallen short, it was still worth attending. The opening act, AlunaGeorge, wasn’t anything special, but provided a nice vibe that greeted attendees as they piled into the Carrier Dome. The vocalist seemed bored for the most part, but the dancers that occasionally appeared on stage provided a much-needed counter. Even during slow-paced portions of the songs, they still went hard, with matching sweatbands in tow. While the overall performance was average, it was at times hard to look away from — a theme that carried through the night.

This was especially true for the headliner Travis Scott. After hearing his songs “Goosebumps” and “Antidote” played ad nauseum all day, they were barely recognizable live, if not for the audience singing along. Scott himself was barely singing along, with most of his vocals just being abstract yelling into an autotuned mic. That’s not to say he didn’t put on an incredible performance, though.

Scott was clearly equally as excited to be in Syracuse as Syracuse was to have him, proudly declaring it as “the best motherf—ing campus in the motherf—ing world.” As the audience jumped around and sang, Scott did the same. He never stayed in the same place at any point during the show, except for when he spontaneously ditched the stage to perform “Antidote” in the bleachers. Between the excitement and the dancing, I could feel the entire place moving.

I was most impressed by the visuals presented on the stage. EDM/house artist ZHU provided a bright neon sign of his logo, which he stood upon for the entirety of his set. Behind him were two huge screens presenting visuals that were trippy regardless of what kind of daytime activities you took part in. These screens turned ZHU into an elusive silhouette, so they were really the only interesting things to look at on the stage. It did not get boring, though. At one point, in a remix of “Thriller,” the audience could look at a whole group of animated skeletons performing the iconic dance routine from the music video.

These visuals were nothing compared to what Scott had planned though, decorating the stage with trees and birdcages, with one giant, electronic bird looming in the background. About halfway through his set, the bird was activated, with glowing eyes and a constantly-moving beak, wings, and head. Scott himself was so high-energy, so between him and the myriad of insane stage props surrounding him, it was impossible to take your eyes away from the performance.

If I learned anything, it was that you don’t necessarily need to sound great to please a crowd. I was certainly never bored.

Jenny Bourque is a freshman English and Textual Studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at jabourqu@syr.edu.

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