Science and Tech Editor
Despite this year’s lineup drawing mixed reactions from students on Facebook and Twitter, students lined up outside Harder Stadium as early as 12 p.m., over an hour before the gates eventually opened for Extravaganza 2018. Regardless of the buzz on social media, this year’s medieval-themed festival was filled with students by the late afternoon.
Battle of the DJ’s winner, DJBJ, took the stage quickly after gates opened and warmed up with an eclectic mix of popular songs. Most of the crowd spent their time taking photos and waiting in the shade during the opening set, but a few dozen enthusiastic students grouped in front of the stage, dancing for the entire set.
Taking pictures in the photo booth and in front of the giant blow-up dragon was by far the most popular option for students to pass time between sets, but the inflatable battle arena had a long line of its own. Many students also enjoyed watching performers on the aerial silks, an attraction that added a much needed artistic and colorful flair to the event.
When Coast Modern first took the stage, the crowd up front was still noticeably small. Coast Modern, however, was obviously very comfortable on stage and quickly brought more people to the dancefloor. There seemed to be an even split between students who were obviously familiar with the music, and students who had most likely never heard of the band before. Regardless, their energy spread to the growing crowd who cheered for every shout-out or thank you the band gave for being invited to UCSB.
Next up was Big Baby DRAM, who waited behind the stage for a few minutes while his DJ hyped up the crowd with a mix of rap and trap songs. By the time DRAM walked on stage, flashing his signature smile behind a beard and long dreadlocks, the crowd filled the entire dancefloor and began chanting his name without any encouragement needed. He took plenty of time to acknowledge the crowd and share personal stories as messages of love and positivity.
“I didn’t know what the fuck to expect, but it’s all good. We’re here and it’s all love,” he said midway through the performance. DRAM mixed rap, R&B, and a bit of trap into his set, and ended it by letting a student sing the final line to his most popular song, “Broccoli.”
Charli XCX didn’t waste any time at the start of her set, jumping straight into her most popular song, “Boom Clap.” Her upbeat songs and references to her love of partying brought the crowd’s hype to a new level, which peaked during her cover of Icona Pop’s hit “I Don’t Care.” Charli did take the time to acknowledge the crowd in the same way as the other artists, but focused her monologues more on hyping up the audience than thanking them. Similar with Coast Modern, the crowd seemed split between avid fans and people unfamiliar with Charli XCX, but her interactions with the audience and danceable, party-themed music created more of a buzz than any artist except for the final act.
Headliner Dillon Francis started later than listed, but immediately went into an almost nonstop jam that lasted for his entire set. He might have been short on time or it might just be his style, but Dillon Francis didn’t pause for more than 30 seconds and continuously bounced from one banger to the next. There were only a few quiet or mellow transitions, but everyone on the dancefloor kept pace and moved with the music.
Dillon Francis also had the most intense visual display of any artist. Everything from psychedelic tigers to ’80s video game characters and animations of bikini-modeling bananas flashed behind him, sometimes at a strobe-like pace.
The crowd became rowdy enough at the end that the red water bottles that AS Program Board provided were being lobbed across the dancefloor, striking unlucky students. The dance floor itself had a rough night, splintering apart during DRAM’s set, and completely breaking up by the time Dillon Francis was done.