Students cheering on this year’s talented batch of performers, feeding off of the infectious energy in Harder Stadium. (Tyler Janous / Daily Nexus)

On May 19, the Associated Students Program Board held the 44th annual Extravaganza music festival at UC Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium. This year’s theme was “Candy Land,” demonstrated by the colorful decorations that lined the stadium field. Blown-up versions of gummy bears, gumdrops and ice cream cones were scattered across the field, surrounding the classic “Extravaganza” sign posted at the entrance. 

This year’s performers for the Gauchos-only Associated Students Program Board (ASPB) festival included alternative indie artist Briston Maroney, DJ Disco Lines and rapper BLXST. The headliner was DJ and UCSB alum Steve Aoki.

As audience members flocked to the pit of the main stage, they were welcomed by opening DJ Willie O’Donnell, a financial mathematics and statistics UCSB 2023 alum. O’Donnell successfully warmed the crowd up with an eclectic mix of EDM music, jumping up and down and pointing at the sky to cue his multiple beat drops.

Students anxiously waited for the first act to begin. Second-year economics and environmental studies double major Jesu Rosas and second-year economics and accounting major Awni Broughton had arrived 50 minutes before doors opened to secure a spot in the front row. 

“I LOVE [Maroney],” Broughton said, expressing immense enthusiasm for the first performer. Rosas nodded in agreement as the crowd of students grew larger and larger.

With the crowd now full and buzzing with excitement, Maroney walked out on stage, waving to the crowd. With long, wavy hair and a sticker-clad guitar, the alternative indie artist commanded the stage despite his small stature. They were joined by a small band: Michael Blasky on bass and Drew Tachine on drums. 

“My name’s Briston. We’re stoked to be here. We’re gonna have some fun,” Maroney said, giving a thumbs up to the audience. Multiple Gauchos reciprocated this gesture.

Briston Maroney stuns the crowd with his expert guitar playing, frequently rocking out in the middle of songs. (Tyler Janous / Daily Nexus)

While Maroney’s signature, powerful voice had the crowd engaged, his expert guitar playing skills was where his artistry shone through. Mid-song, Maroney would simply rock out, flipping their hair back and forth while shredding on his guitar. He was so immersed in the music that his hat flew off his head and onto the stage during a rock ‘n’ roll solo. 

At one point, Maroney started a new song, but was taken aback by the cheers from the crowd and expressed his gratitude by saying, “Thanks for having us all. What the hell? Thank you!”

Maroney’s performance concluded with their most popular song, “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate.” This was a crowd favorite, with the entire crowd singing along. However, Maroney was stopped mid-song due to time constraints, with a stage assistant on the side waving at them to wrap up their set. The audience groaned with disappointment as Maroney apologized for the interruption and made his way off the stage, some chanting “ENCORE!” in hopes that Maroney would come back out.

Despite this unexpected end, the crowd still kept their spirits up to welcome the next performer: Thadeus Labuszewski, popularly known as Disco Lines. Labuszewski ran out on stage, grinning ear-to-ear as he took his place behind the DJ table. 

Accompanied by colorful visuals projected on the screen behind him, Labuszewski exuded good vibes throughout his entire set. In between songs, he took the microphone and complimented Santa Barbara, saying, “My mom went to school here! This is such a beautiful place. Thank you guys for being here.”

“Big shout-out to all the students who put this shit on. This is fucking dank — let’s go baby!”

Thadeus Labuszewski, A.K.A. Disco Lines, is a 23-year old DJ known for his viral remixes and contagious energy. (Tyler Janous / Daily Nexus)

During “TECHNO + TEQUILA,” Labuszewski emerged from behind the table, yelling, “I got fucking water ‘cause they won’t let me drink tequila!” He jumped onto the off-stage speakers and drank from a plastic water bottle, then sprayed the lucky audience members in the front barricade. 

Labuszewski’s infectious energy and fast-paced music captivated the attention of the crowd, a sea of hands bumping the air in beat with his tracks. One audience member held up a homemade sign with their phone number and “I’M 23!” Labuszewski pointed and laughed.

The rowdiness in the mosh led to some crowd control issues. A male student had allegedly been pushing and touching other crowd members without their consent, along with talking back to the security guard. 

“The security guard was threatening to escort [the student] out,” second-year sociology major Brianna Salinas said. “But the guy was still talking back to him, so that’s when the crowd started shouting, ‘Kick him out.’”

As Labuszewski’s set concluded and event staff began clearing the stage, BLXST’s DJ Gabe C. entered and began reenergizing the crowd. 

“UCSB, we gonna turn up!” C. said as he walked back and forth on stage. 

While welcoming BLXST onto the stage, C. initiated a call and response with audience: “When I say, ‘EAGLE,’ you say, ‘GANG.’” The audience responded screaming each time, and after a couple responses, BLXST made his entrance singing “Wrong or Right.”

BLXST took the stage as the second headliner. The Los Angeles rapper made good use of the stage, engaging the crowd. (Tyler Janous / Daily Nexus)

BLXST and C. made sure to engage the crowd, specifically during “Every Good Girl,” by telling them to put their hands up in the air and sway. Backup singer Cheyenne Wright’s vocals were highlighted throughout the song, and the cheers of “Cheyenne” ricocheted through the stadium. 

Because he made a late entrance, BLXST’s set was shorter than anticipated. He ended his performance with “Be Alone.”

Second-year economics major Londen Glasper stood out as a big fan of BLXST, singing along to every lyric. 

“I’ve been a fan since high school, so it’s been over five years,” Glasper said. “Being in the front is a really good experience.” 

After a short interlude, Gauchos anxiously awaited the arrival of Aoki as his opening video of a robotic animated version of himself began playing on the big screen. When Aoki ran on stage, the crowd began jumping and ecstatic cheers could be heard all around. 

“UCSB, my name is Steve Aoki. Everyone make some noise,” Aoki said. 

Aoki continued with a couple of EDM beat tracks before changing it up with a remix of David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Good (Blue),” which the crowd immediately started singing the lyrics to. 

During his song “I Love It When You Cry,” Aoki signaled for the crowd to put their hands up and clap along. He encouraged them to this numerous times throughout his entire performance, really engaging the audience and keeping the energy lively. 

Aoki managed to hop onto the soundboard, earning loud cheers from the crowd. While running back and forth on the soundboard, Aoki took his shirt off and threw it into the right side audience, causing them to go ballistic.

Steve Aoki jumps down to interact with the Gaucho-only crowd. Known for his mid-set cake throwing, Aoki takes a selfie with a fan hoping to get caked. (Tyler Janous / Daily Nexus)

His remix of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” was an instant crowd favorite. Screams were heard across the stadium as the song started and Swift’s music video started playing behind Aoki and students sang the lyrics louder than the track at one point.

“It’s really special to be back here with you guys. UCSB is my fucking school,” Aoki said. “I’m fucking proud to be from UCSB.” 

“I used to live on Sabado Tarde. I used to live in the Biko House,” Aoki said. After Extravaganza ended, Aoki posted on his Instagram story that he would be taking a ride through I.V. and visiting various campus locations. Staying true to his word, he did just that and ended up at Biko House, where he met and took pictures with students. 

“The best party school in the fucking world, for sure,” Aoki said. 

Aoki surprised the audience by proceeding to play “Heavenly Hell,” a new single off his album that is set to release next month. Halfway through the song, Aoki ran across the front of the stage. He stopped center stage and told the audience to follow his lead in making devil horns and angel halos to match the song lyrics. Obediently, students followed his directions. 

After the festival, Aoki returned to the Biko Co-Op House in Isla Vista, where he lived as a student during his time at UCSB. (Lance Sanchez / Daily Nexus)

Keeping the momentum and energy up, Aoki played a remix of fun.’s “We Are Young.” The audience loudly sang along and started clapping with their hands in the air at the beat drop.

Excitement arose in the audience as they realized Aoki was ending his performance with his most notable song — his remix of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare).” Aoki jumped onto the soundboard one last time before running off stage and in front of the barricades.  He climbed onto the rim of the right barricade and put on a green cowboy hat that was handed to him from the crowd. He towered over the audience as he sang, “I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know / Everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold.”

“Sing it louder!” Aoki said, and the Gauchos did, in fact, sing it louder. Amidst chanting and screaming from the crowd, Aoki jumped to the middle barricade  at the beat change, pumping both arms in the air along with the audience. He ran back on stage with so much energy that the green cowboy hat temporarily fell off his head. 

Aoki is known for throwing cake at the audience during his world-famous sets. However, after taking a moment to look out at the audience and signs students held up, he announced he was not allowed to cake the Gauchos. 

“I wanted to do it,” Aoki said. Immediate disheartened and displeased groans were heard across Harder Stadium, a disappointing turn of events. “Put the cake signs up. I want to see them up in the air.” 

Aoki ended with three call-and-response chants with the audience: “Everybody say, ‘HELL YEAH!’ ‘FUCK YEAH!’ ‘STEVE AOKI!’” Each time, the audience members followed suit and screamed his words back at him. 

“Thank you so much,” Aoki said, admiring the mass of students in the crowd. The audience cheered as Aoki walked off stage, a successful end to one of the most iconic sets in Extravaganza history.

Student reception of the festival was overwhelmingly positive. The common sentiment was that 2024’s lineup was an improvement from previous years. 

“Last year’s was ass,” third-year communication and global studies major Melany Mihai said. 

“This year’s set is better, but I might be biased. BLXST is my favorite artist,” Glasper said. 

Third-year psychological & brain sciences major Kashish Baniya attended Extravaganza for the first time and expressed her happiness with the concert. 

“It was fucking lit. Steve Aoki brought the energy. Everybody else was fucking great too,” Baniya said. “Steve Aoki held my hand, and I was like, ‘What the fuck?’” referring to Aoki’s crowd interactions.

Crowd response was warm, with many students preferring 2024’s festival to previous years. (Tyler Janous / Daily Nexus)

UCSB’s ASPB is student-run — an impressive feat given the magnitude and high-profile nature of the festival. ASPB Publicity Coordinator and third-year communication major Graham Glass gave insight on the planning process for this year’s Extravaganza.

“As Publicity Coordinator, I head the theme and release team. As a board, we voted on our theme back in December. From there, my team and I planned out how the lineup would be released, as well as the cohesive vision for our theme for our marketing campaign,” Glass said.

Glass elaborated the strenuous time commitment required to put on the festival. “We as a board, along with volunteers and production, arrive at Harder Stadium anywhere from 5-7 a.m. and are there doing Extrav duties until around 10 p.m.”

From the ASPB side, Glass expressed his gratitude toward the positive reaction from students.

“It’s hard work, but truly nothing compares to watching the result bring so much joy to the people on [Harder Stadium’s] field,” Glass said. “As ridiculous as it sounds, it actually made me cry tears of joy a bit during Steve Aoki’s set.”

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the May 23 Daily Nexus print edition