Lupe Fiasco & Girl Talk bump UWM’s Pantherfest
Each year University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s campus kickoff is a large attraction for all affiliated with the university and the immediate community surrounding the school. Scheduled events for students offer free games, food, and music catered toward university students demographics, especially freshman, giving them a warm welcome back to school.
The university-wide celebration concludes with a free concert for UWM students, alumni, and staff held at the Marcus Amphitheater in downtown Milwaukee. Notorious for bringing some of the hottest names in music to town, UWM hosted headliners Lupe Fiasco and Girl Talk this year for what was to be one amazing show. Still the only Univeristy of Wisconsin school that features a free concert for students, UWM is expected to out-do itself each year because with the young-adult population’s constantly changing interests, it’s either a hit or miss.
Police and amphitheater security swarmed in at high volumes as students filled the amphitheater. Personally I have never seen so much security staff and police presence at any concert I have been to. Increased security helped control the crowd as they escorted students in section by section to prevent any trampling or fighting for seats as the show was all general admission. Think what would happen if you let 15,000 college students run in all at once and you’ll get the picture. Unfortunately there was a sectioned off “VIP” section at stage-center that may or may not have ruined the show for some fans. I wasn’t able to find out who was allowed in there or why but there was obviously a “prerequisite” for being down there.
Alcohol had been significantly cut down at this years Pantherfest, according to staff on site. UWM had dropped the practice of allowing the sale of beer to of-age students after previous years had brought up problems of older students buying minor students beer. Nonetheless hundreds still stumbled up the ramps and into the amphitheater heavily intoxicated from “pre-gaming” beforehand. According to security staff and the some comments from police, this years festival went over better than previous years. Although tickets were issued for underage intoxication, possession of drugs, fighting, and resisting arrest the festival went on without any major incident that affected more than a few students. Even though there was more authority presence than normal, no one could tell me if it was because the attendees were mostly students or the increase was requested by UWM to prevent any damaging mar to their name.
One incident was more apparent than others backstage. A fan was escorted out by police and was not complying with their commands, effectively resisting arrest. After yelling and a little scuffle, the man was taken away by police. At this point I was targeted by festival producer Scott G. Having taken a series of photos he quickly confronted me. After seeing me and my credentials at least 10 times throughout the night he asked me who I was, who I worked for, and how I’d gotten backstage. Furthermore he continued to block me from taking photos by standing in front my my camera and moving with me as I tried to gain a few more shots. Instead of calmly confronting me, I was cornered into a pillar by Scott G., a UWM representative, whom blatantly conveyed that I was not welcome here. (To my knowledge, I was the only outside press in the venue). At this point it was apparent to me that my covering of the entire picture rather than just the “upper” half was frowned upon.
Nonetheless, Lupe Fiasco put on an extravagant show for the university students, getting everyone off their feet for a night of fun and dancing. The impressive lyrics and lighting combinations created a magical atmosphere, immersing us in the music. An awesome stage setup and impressive supporting musicians were up to par with Lupe Fiasco’s reputation showing that the band was enjoying the experience as well. The fact that Lupe opened for Girl Talk confused a lot of people because Lupe is perceived to have a larger following. This was apparent when a lot of people decided to leave right after Lupe’s set ended. A large crowd still hung around for Girl Talk, but the lineup could have been structured better to keep fans present for the entire show.
Overall the concert was a huge success and I felt like all students in attendance had a great time. Aside from the few difficulties that they may have caused, which is to be expected from college students, behavior was fairly acceptable, keeping the experience enjoyable for almost everyone.