Vibe, Vibin' in the 'Ville

Hip-Hop and R & B artist ESAI, from Kansas City, Missouri, was one of six performers at the outdoor music festival. ESAI's music is inspired by his passion for preserving the planet, as can be made out on the front of his hoodie.

As the Student Activities Council prepared for its first music festival, the organization didn’t need to look far for talent.

SAC Concert Director Emily Elliot was in charge of planning the event and finding potential artists.

“I really reached out to the community,” Elliott said. “I reached out to the people at the Office of Student Involvement and was just ‘Who do you know?’”

While the headliner for the concert was Bazzi, the rest of the festival was comprised of local vendors and performers. Many of the musical acts had ties to the Northwest community, either sharing the same high school as many Bearcats, appearing on shows such as “Northwest Sessions” or being former students of the University.

For the Kansas City based band A Greater Tomorrow, Vibin’ in the ‘Ville wasn’t their first time playing in Maryville. They appeared on an episode of KNWT/Channel 8’s “Northwest Sessions” in 2017.

“Andy told me, he’s my guitarist, ‘Hey, we’re playing in Maryville,’” Gentry Cline, the bass player for A Greater Tomorrow, said. “I got excited because I played in Maryville before, and I asked what kind of show it was, because every show is different, and he said we were going to be in a dope music festival.”

One former student was the self-proclaimed “environmental rapper” Esai Saenz.

“I wanted to coin the term ‘environmental rapper’ to give the hip-hop community a voice for protecting the planet and animal rights and stuff like that,” Saenz said.

Saenz attended Northwest in 2015 as a mass media major. After two years he transferred to Missouri Western University to study film. He works with the Netflix show “Queer Eye” as a graphic designer.

During his time at Northwest, Saenz was roommates with another Vibin’ in the ‘Ville performer, J. Rich.

“So, J. Rich and I have known each other since middle school,” Saenz said. “We lived in Dietrich together, and we were making music all the time.”

Seeing his former roommate is partly what drew Saenz into doing the festival.

“We actually got to stay in Dietrich last night after mic checks and everything and it was so cool to see the new RAs, the people who live there,” Saenz said. “It was like coming full circle.”

The local talent wasn’t just limited to the music. The vendor’s tent was comprised of Northwest art students who sold handmade items from jewelry to pottery.

Art education sophomore Sam Grigsby worked on his pottery since the second week of school.

“I do wheel throwing,” Grigsby said. “Basically, I throw down the clay to make a plate and then with the glazes I look online for what looks cool. Though even after you find a glaze you like, it turns out different once you put it on. It even looks different on different objects.”

Elliot talks about how she was able to get the art club involved.

“I basically opened it [the vendor’s tent] to art club and was just like ‘Hey, this is an opportunity for you guys if you’re interested. You should do this because I’m trying to make this big,’” Elliott said.

Despite the turnout for Vibin’ in the ‘Ville being lower than SAC had hoped, Elliott wasn’t disappointed.

“I had happy people,” Elliott said. “They were way more hyped than last year. They were jumping. They were screaming. They were singing. They were dancing. It’s what students wanted and in my position, what I am supposed to do is provide a concert for the students.”

While the numbers may not show how much of a success the festival was, Elliott said the circumstances surrounding the concert could have affected the numbers.

“It was right after Homecoming,” Elliott said. “So everyone who went and partied over Homecoming were tired and went home.”

She also credits the low attendance to the community’s lack of interest.

“Our country concerts always have larger numbers but that’s because the community wants to be involved with country concerts because that’s what the community of Maryville listens to,” Elliott said. “But I brought pop R&B. Pop R&B is the number one choice by far from students on the surveys I sent out. In the end, it’s not my job to put on a concert for the community, it’s to put on a concert for the students.”

Elliott wanted more local flavor than what showed up.

“I contacted the vendors,” Elliott said. “There wasn’t really a technique or anything of how I did that. I did what I could. We had a food truck not show up and a flower truck not show up. We had a lot of problems with the outdoor festival and our vendors. In the future I’ll need to make sure I have the vendors sooner than I did and make sure we are all on the same page.”

The food that did appear was a small beer garden, a concession stand and Kool Kats, who gave out free shaved ice for festival goers.

“I thought too big,” Elliott said. “But this is a starting point. It can only grow from here.”

Elliott said she hopes in the future the fall concert and music festival will be two different events.

“I’m going to try and encourage the next concert director and SAC to make this two separate events,” Elliott said. “So maybe doing the fall concert in the spring and having the festival in the fall or something.”

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