Returning Northwestern students may have a few key memories associated with Welsh-Ryan arena: basketball games, volleyball games and A&O Fall Blowout. But all those who reveled in the sweaty glory of a concert at a jam-packed sports center will have to hold their breath – this year A&O Blowout will be co-headlined by Icona Pop and Earl Sweatshirt, and will take place at that Aragon Ballroom in uptown Chicago at 7 p.m. on October 23. Tickets are $10 for Northwestern students and will go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Since its inception in 2009, Blowout has been held in Welsh-Ryan arena, and this is the first year it will be moving off campus. The move is both a practical and an aesthetic one – not only can the Aragon accomodate more general admission floor space than Welsh-Ryan (4000 to Welsh-Ryan's 400, according to School of Communication senior and A&O Director of Production Max Goldberg), but it also better reflects the diversity of concert spaces in nearby Chicago.
"Luckily living in Chicago we have a great music scene with a lot of great venues, including the Aragon, which is a venue that's very specific for music and has a rich history of awesome shows," said Goldberg. "So we decided that it would be awesome to tap into those opportunities of using this great city to put on good music."
The push for co-headliners is part of a larger effort on A&O's part to be more inclusive and reflective of the Northwestern community – both headliners will play equally long 60 minute sets, and represent a range of musical interests on campus. "We have a diverse student interest group especially with regards to music so we really wanted to try to touch on all the different popular genres and not kind of bill one genre over the other," said Danny Brennan, McCormick senior and A&O Co-Chair. If you don't like either artist, you have only yourself to blame for a deficient sense of civic duty – both artists did very well in A&O's annual poll, according to Goldberg.
The Swedish female electro-pop duo first rose to prominence in 2012 with the release of their song "I Love It ft. Charli XCX," (more commonly known as "that one song you know by Icona Pop," "that one song you know by Charli XCX" or "that one song you heard on that episode of Girls") and is comprised of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo. For those who have never heard another Icona Pop song, Goldberg reassured that the duo is known for putting on amazing live shows with high caliber production value, perfect for the Aragon. And for those who have never heard any Icona Pop songs, SoC senior and Marketing and Media Co-Chair Caroline Fearon stressed the approachability of their work.
"It's the type of music that's really easy to dance along and enjoy yourself without having heard the song before and without knowing the lyrics, which is something that's kind of different from rap," Fearon said. Fans prone to falling asleep early might want to miss their set; word has it they could do this All Night.
Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, who goes by the stage name Earl Sweatshirt, is also perhaps best-known for his collabs with other artists. As a part of the outfit Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, he rapped alongside the likes of Tyler, the Creator, and lived the Los Angeles "skate life" before striking out on his own – but not before a stint in boarding school in Samoa (#freeEarl). Since then, Sweatshirt has released two albums and is perhaps the best testament to how dropping a "fire mixtape" as a teen can actually get you somewhere. Though he currently lives the lifestyle of a world-class rapper, Sweatshirt may have more in common with the average NU student than one might expect – he doesn't go outside, and he is the age of an average college senior. "We're his target audience," Goldberg said. "Our generation grew up on Odd Future."
If you can't get outside to enjoy the turn up at the Aragon (rumored to have been a hang-out of the likes of Al Capone), try listening to the playlist below for a sample of what you're missing out on.