Olivia O’Brien Headlines SpringFest Concert

American singer-songwriter Olivia O’Brien recently performed at Colgate University’s SpringFest 2023 Concert. Rapper Lakeyah opened the show with a dynamic and high-powered performance, complementing the more subdued energy of O’Brien’s music. O’Brien’s set flowed smoothly between mellow moody songs and brighter numbers.

O’Brien performed hits like “Josslyn” and “hate u love u” to a relatively small crowd of viewers, mostly concentrated towards the front of the Sanford Field House. Other Colgate students and their guests lounged on the turf farther back in the Field House, reminiscent of outdoor summer concerts in warmer weather. Attendance was noticeably lower than the previous year’s T-Pain concert, presumably due to student debate over the 2023 artist selection.

Every SpringFest, Colgate’s Student Government Association (SGA) coordinates the selection of a singer to headline the SpringFest Concert. After an unusually late artist announcement revealed Olivia O’Brien had been booked as the 2023 SpringFest headliner, student response was varied. While some students were excited about the prospect of O’Brien’s performance, many were upset that SGA had not selected one of the musicians from the student poll.

Sophomore SGA Senate Representative Paul Lynch explained how the artist selection process was halted as a result of internal issues.

“Most of the process took place during the last semester in the fall, but it was largely a process that was pretty private, and just kept within leadership, Lynch said. “Pretty much what happened was there was a lot of miscommunication and a lot of people weren’t being honest about what they hoped that the concert would look like, and basically that’s how we kinda ended up in our current situation.”

Lynch detailed the normal musician hiring timeline and clarified the internal SGA planning disconnects.

“Traditionally we start looking for a SpringFest artist in the summertime actually, like August/July range […] with miscommunication and all that stuff, we actually didn’t start looking for an artist I think until the winter time, so maybe [around] like December/January I think we actually started genuinely looking for an artist, but at that point, most of our main options like Steve Aoki had already been booked,” Lynch explained.

Despite initial student hesitation at the prospect of O’Brien’s performance, most viewers spoke very positively about their experience.

After attending the concert, sophomore Grace Ashley spoke about her unexpected enjoyment of the performance.

“I thought it was a lot of fun and Olivia O’Brien was a surprisingly upbeat performer,” Ashley said.

The stage was sparse, with colored lights and a simple back screen displaying O’Brien’s name. O’Brien did not let the lower turnout notably impact her performance, and gave a well-executed and professional concert despite fighting an uphill battle against student expectations.

O’Brien paused her lineup of originals to cover Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug,” which received rave reviews from Ashley.

“Her Ke$ha cover was the moment,” Ashley added. “It was literally so good the crowd went crazy.”

Sophomore Ella Monfort enjoyed the SpringFest headline performance as well, even though she was unfamiliar with O’Brien’s music.

“I thought [Olivia O’Brien] was really good, I hadn’t really heard of her before the concert but I really enjoyed her music and had a great time,” Monfort said.

While students were initially wary of the choice to bring O’Brien to SpringFest, it seems as though most students enjoyed the more laid-back concert.