It is safe to say that the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Associated Students Programming Board’s (ASPB) “Indigo De Souza in The Hub” event did not pan out to be what anyone expected. The event was advertised as a full concert, announced 10 days before on AS’s Instagram, complete with the retroactively hilarious disclaimer that there will not be any stage diving, moshing, or crowd surfing in small, legal subtext. Two days before, to my excitement, another artist which I really like, Iowa-raised Chicago-based musician Billy Lemos, was announced as the opener. And so, my hopes were high as I made my way over to The Hub via electric scooter.
Upon entering the venue, quiet drum-n-bass breaks played over the PA. The crowd was still and the music wasn’t very loud; most people were talking to their neighbors. It took me a few minutes to realize that Lemos had actually already begun his set; he was hunched over a little DJ deck, playing songs at an astonishingly un-commanding volume. Lemos didn’t have a microphone or anything, and he didn’t even look up at the crowd when he played his biggest song “12:34am” at what must have been half its normal speed. And he certainly didn’t sing it. Maybe he was shy, or maybe that’s just the kind of performance he felt like giving us, but to call it a performance is generous and I think the advertising from the Programming Board was misleading.
However, this was not the end. I’d like to preface this by saying that I love Indigo’s music — she hails from Asheville, North Carolina, and has been gradually climbing the ranks of left-field indie pop-rock since 2016. Her new record “All of This Will End” is amazing, and everyone should go listen to it.
After Lemos finished his set, we all waited patiently for people to start setting up the empty stage. I was wondering why things were moving so slowly when out Indigo came, with an amp, a microphone, and nothing else. She told us that it was just her, that her band couldn’t make it, and that she was going to play solo for the first time in 10 years. She was really nervous about playing alone and, on top of everything, had a sinus infection. I felt bad about the thought that she was probably contractually obligated to play considering the circumstances, as she clearly didn’t want to be there. She even asked a few times throughout the show about how much time was left, which was a little heartbreaking.
That all being said, in some strange way, this was an anticlimactic best-case scenario. By random, unfortunate chance, according to her, we got to witness the first stripped-back set in 10 years by Indigo De Souza and, honestly, she absolutely killed it. Her songs are usually fun with a whole band. Yet, with her voice isolated and just a simple guitar accompaniment, the raw emotion of her songwriting and signature high-pitched vibrato shone through stunningly. I found myself moved by her music in a way I haven’t ever before, and I could tell much of the crowd felt the same. Her set was impromptu, sure, and not what was advertised — but honestly, I really loved it. Indigo’s voice, even with a sinus infection, sounded spectacular on its own.
With the recent last-minute-adding and last-minute-canceling of JPEGMAFIA from the Extravaganza lineup (which also broke my heart), an unfortunate trend is starting to become apparent regarding ASPB. In this case, with Indigo De Souza, it somehow managed to turn out well. However, that does not change the fact that we were misled. Extravaganza was free, but Indigo De Souza’s event costed upwards of $15, even for students. The public absolutely should not be misled in this way, especially with paid, ticketed events. It should have been clarified that both performers for this event were not performing in their respective traditional manners. The fact that no statement had been released by ASPB, the fact that it was just ignored and swept under the rug, is honestly a big ethical mark on the organization. Their lack of communication and openness regarding these complications is disappointing. I certainly don’t think I trust them enough to buy another ticket to one of their events, which is really unfortunate. It shouldn’t be like that at all — I think a program paid for by the students should be entirely transparent with said students. Indigo, thank you so much for the beautiful performance. ASPB, please do better.