Fiasco for Lupe as Jam-packed crowd thins

Review: Super Mash Bros. and Passion Pit stole the show from two much more deserving acts.

Lupe Fiasco was technically the headlining act of Juice Jam 2010, but when he finally took the stage after Passion Pit’s fanatically received performance, a quarter of the audience hightailed it to the exit. A few minutes later, when the rain began to pour, the audience that jumped along to Passion Pit’s bouncing beats dropped by half, leaving only dripping, diehard fans behind.

Photo: Alex Pines
Kevin Hegedus of Mouth's Cradle sings to the crowd during Sunday's Juice Jam concert at South Campus.

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Sure, it could have been the weather. But the unexpected exodus during Fiasco's set also made a statement about what Syracuse University’s student body is really looking for: We are here to dance. We are here to drink and smoke. We are here to party.

Once that part is over, we will leave.

Those who did stay for Fiasco’s set saw that he left frills and the usual rapper babble behind to instead showcase his commanding words, the quality he is most famous for. His rap is storytelling at its finest, a lost art form, especially within the realm of hip-hop.

He played several new songs off his long-anticipated upcoming album, Lasers, and “Go to Sleep,” a song he said he wrote independently, perhaps as a stab at his dawdling record label. He also gave the crowd some of his ultimate hits, including “Kick, Push,” “Superstar” and “Daydreamin.” Fans reacted with earnest elation.

But a huge portion of the original crowd wasn’t there to see it. It was clear that at Juice Jam 2010, a catchy hook and a reminder of late nights past won out over intelligent lyrics with star power every time.

Case in point: mash-up duo Super Mash Bros.’ set played out like a collegiate house party’s lucid dream, and the partygoers responded with zeal. They sampled plenty of the last 20 years’ most recognizable hits, even dedicating a song to “babies of the ‘90s”– a majority of the crowd. If it had been nighttime, people would have been grinding.

Super Mash Bros. are really fun to dance to, but they produce no original material. They mash the same way that thousands of amateur DJs do at home on their couches, and they do it only slightly better.

They gave a surprisingly energetic and engaging performance for two guys pressing buttons on their computers. The performance was so engaging, in fact, that the crowd seemed to completely miss when the guys underhandedly dissed the SU student body, repeatedly making backhanded comments about Greek life and at one point saying, “All of you know money, you go to Syracuse University."

And yet, Juice-jammers showed more support for two guys that play around with other people’s music for a living rather than an original, game-changing hip-hop artist.

The crowd also gave too much when they weren’t getting enough. Everyone assembled in unified force for the real headlining band, Boston-based electro-pop band Passion Pit. The set was easily the most subdued and least charismatic of the day, yet also the most magnanimously welcomed.

It began lethargically, picking up slightly with “Swimming in the Flood.” Soon “The Reeling” sent synth waves streaming through the air. After that everyone was lost in a frenzy of fist-pumping and crowd-surfing.

The performance was average and the band made little-to-no effort to make a connection with the students in the crowd, but once again all of that was ignored. Passion Pit provided a current of energy just upbeat enough to get high off of, and the students embraced it. Their synths overpowered everything else going on, including the lyrics. And when the high-pitched whirring finally paused, you still couldn’t understand what lead singer Michael Angelakos was saying as he softly mumbled his way through the set.

Concertgoers did support a band of their own, but not nearly as much as they should have. A few hundred fans welcomed Mouth’s Cradle to the stage when they opened the show around 12:30. The Syracuse-bred band includes Brandon Linn, a 2010 alumnus, and Kevin Hegedus, who just began another fall semester at SU. Though the crowd was small, it was loyal. Screams of “I love you, Kevin!” could be heard from all corners. A good portion of the spectators knew all of the words. And when the Nintendo-infused melodies combined with the funky dance moves and Devendra Banhart-like crooning of Mouf, Kevin’s stage persona, every member of the audience at least conceded a swaying of the hips.

But Mouth’s Cradle unfortunately suffered the same fate as Fiasco: both acts deserved recognition for their ingenuity and talent, yet received less than their due. That appreciation was reserved instead for Super Mash Bros. and Passion Pit, who did little besides pander to our party instincts -- for better or for worse.


Passion Pit plays in front of the crowd at Juice Jam on Sunday at sky top field on south campus.

(Photo: Alex Pines)

To "Gain some perspective"

I appreciate your comment, but to be clear, I never said that mashing was easy or takes zero skill. Instead I was trying to make the point that they aren't creating original content. I actually really enjoy electronica, and artists such as Daft Punk have changed music forever. Then again, they make original content.

Gain some perspective and

Gain some perspective and educate yourself in different genres of music; mashing up music is an art form, and is just as respectable as writing a lyric. Super mash Bros ARE amateur DJ's and the amount of time that goes into a mash up (not a remix) is probably the same amount of time one takes in creating a song. I don't think the crowds energy for those two acts represented the "spirit" of Syracuse's love of partying, it just represented the students interest in new and exciting music genres that are beginning to emerge and have been transforming over the past few years. Electronica is where the scene is headed.

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