Paradise awaited within Harder. The most avid Extravaganza fans were greeted in their earliness with the indie groove of garage rock band Twin Peaks. The Chicago-based musicians proved to be a vitalizing first act in a production-heavy lineup. The band was followed by L.A. artist Thundercat’s unrivaled blend of funk, soul and everything in between.
Concertgoers sized up the converted Harder Stadium with glazed looks.
Surrounded by a river of concession stands and administrative tents and shadowed by A.S.-sanctioned monuments, the centerpiece of the Extravaganza field was a Camp Flog Gnaw–esque wooden signpost. The sculpture was adorned with signs naming each of Extravaganza’s artists, pointed in every possible direction.
The madness was soon joined by a low rumble. The noises of filler music and ambient crowd murmurs were sucked from the stage by the vacuum of a quiet spiral of lights while the stage crew’s shuffling was lost in a blazoning of drums. Concertgoers picked themselves up from the floor, giving their attention to the serenade, riveted by the start of the headliners. Silence rippled through Harder Stadium.
Heralded by the furious pounding of her drummer’s set, Tinashe made her Extravaganza debut clad in an iconic military fatigue cap and backed by four dancers. The singer thanked UCSB profusely over an ocean of anxious noise before beginning with a rendition of her Schoolboy collab, “2 On.”
SB was easily enthralled by the pop star’s performance. The force of her stage presence introduced an energy unlike anything UCSB’s concert scene has provided in the past year: the playful, in-your-face excitement of pop-diva stardom. All of her typical hits, including “Superlove,” “Flame” and “Company,” as well as songs off her 2016 studio album, Nightride, made appearances in Tinashe’s set. Longtime fans found no disappointment, while those unfamiliar with her work found enthusiasm in the vivacity of her act.
Through her performance, Tinashe best connected with the crowd in a moment toward the end of her set. The line between the scheduled songs and the encore had blurred beyond haze-filled recognition, while the blaring brightness and scorch of the day drowned the better part of the crowd’s concentration. Tinashe finally paused. The singer visibly caught her breath as she addressed the crowd with “a special song, one close to my heart,” a song meant for all those who “understand why I’m here.” Channeling the anticipation felt in waiting on a lover, the performer had the crowd transfixed at the song’s opening line.
Tinashe at last completed her marathon, finishing her final song with a noticeable pant. She waved goodbye with a radiant smile, which electrically pulsated throughout the crowd. As her drummer’s no-holds-barred solo ushered her offstage, the pop star shouted one last thank-you to UCSB. With one last blown kiss, the once ecstatic stadium reverted to its strange liminal state of void noise.
Tasked with picking up the quieted slack, Michigan-born electronica artist GRiZ snuck onstage to surprise the growing mass of college students. Reminiscent of RL Grime’s intensity, GRiZ’s set was much better suited for the outdoor air of UCSB’s signature nonchalant attitude. He recaptured the enthusiasm of the somewhat fizzled concert, becoming a stunning success from relative obscurity. GRiZ opened his set with some festive, chill swells. However, he quickly ascended into liveliness, invigorating Extravaganza with jazzy beats.
GRiZ was accompanied onstage by his brass-playing companion, a trumpeter recalling the funky live sets of Big Gigantic. The Michigan performer himself wielded an impressive tenor sax. Yet the two musicians’ onstage vivacity was subdued by the striking quality of GRiZ’s visuals: a series of abstract animations reported to be of the artist’s own production. Images included a silhouetted head opening to release swirling streamers of color. Many were amazed by the unexpected detail of the set and the passionate simplicity of GRiZ’s performance. The duo brought an infusion of authentic excitement to a genre so unfamiliar with live instrumental performance.
“The trumpet was really good,” screamed bubbly first-year Marissa Erese, “probably my favorite part.”
GRiZ’s set offered some original work as well as mixes of well-received pop culture classics. The EDM artist raised Harder with a brass-infused performance of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” The chant of the song’s iconic lyrics resounded even when GRiZ turned the chorus momentarily off.
Again, the rush of sound and energy followed the performer off the stage. The babble of the crowd returned as concertgoers staked their claim on the floor or saddled for the arduous voyage to Harder’s rear in search of water. A stream of dead-eyed Extravaganzees could be seen clutching complementary water bottles as they queued at the cluster of administrative tents.
Back onstage, in the heated haze of the festival’s waning hours, an enthusiastic, not entirely out-of-place twentysomething strode to the stage’s front.
“Y’all need more energy before I can let Schoolboy come out here,” he taunted, priming the Extravaganza crowd for their headliner.
Schoolboy Q entered Isla Vista with much anticipation. Sizing up the crowd with his characteristically smirky grin, Q yelled Extravaganza to life. Accusations of UCSB’s lacking level of energy prompted a fanatic series of screams from his audience.
Extravaganza was only realized at the sound of the jingling opening of “Collard Greens.” The crowd chanted unanimously alongside the heavily panting rapper as a chasm of mosh enveloped the field’s center. Schoolboy ran through the list of his classic hits including “Studio” and “Break the Bank,” carried by the weight of his status as rap kingpin. The characteristic sharpness of his post-gangsta rap, South Central attitude shone in the casual nature of his crowd-mocking. Though rarely melodic, with discombobulated verses and a heavy dependence on freestyle, Schoolboy managed to provide a cohesive performance. The rapper’s set played well to Extravaganza’s atmosphere (contrary to the performer’s original beliefs), a release of scholastic pressure for a Sunday afternoon rush of music, raging and sweaty bodies. However, Schoolboy did incite some of his back-home, Flog-Gnaw rawness with the enormous mosh pit that slowly developed in the center of the field.
Q paused to taunt the crowd, demanding everyone unready for part two of his performance, “Go back to your dorm rooms.” The rapper took his challenge a step further by denigrating the supposed lack of UCSB energy. “They were better at UCSD,” smirked the rapper. This served only to reinvigorate the crowd through chants of olé, olé, olé, olé.
Schoolboy finished with a performance of Kendrick’s “M.A.A.D. City.”
“This shit was actually fun,” Q attempted to sign off. Succumbing to the chants of “one more song,” Schoolboy riled the crowd with an improvised rendition of his most anticipated song, “THat Part.” Despite insistent cries from the audience, Schoolboy left the Extravaganza stage as he had found it, with no want for enthusiasm. The mass of concertgoers slid to the exits with the Santa Barbara sunset materializing over their exhausted heads.