March 14, 2023
Horizon Day 1 Review
Jazmarian Perez

March 3rd marked day one of the University of California San Diego’s Horizon event by AS Concerts at Events Board, an envisioned two-day festival with “two up-and-coming-touring artists” (A.S. words, not ours) alongside a student opener. 

The 2-day festival held at the new Epstein Family Amphitheater was the second college show to date of headliner Tucker Pillsbury, otherwise known by his stage name, Role Model. The evening started for most entering the amphitheater 20 minutes after doors were supposed to open, a tardiness which seemed to be a common theme for the rest of the night.

However, with meet and greet passes for Role Model, we were the first students non-affiliated with ASCE to enter the venue. One of the ASCE festival coordinators led us to the bottom of the dark pit where GA stands, which served as the backdrop for our meet-and-greet photos. Seventeen students in a single file line waited for 30 minutes in the dark and cold while ASCE figured out what was happening backstage; whispers about moving the M&G to the end of the show came from coordinators while students waited in cold frustration. To our complete surprise, Aidan Bissett came out and took photos with two eager fans but quickly returned to his green room to prep for his set. Three minutes before doors were supposed to open, Role Model stepped out happily, ready to meet each student. After the inefficient organization from ASCE and an additional 20 minutes later, M&G winners were escorted out of the venue to go through security for a second time, landing us front and center in the pit.  

Student openers The Diz—consisting of two current undergrads, Skylar Feick and Elise Burcham, one UCSD graduate student Ian Frankel, and one UC Berkeley alumni William Bennett—attempted to start their set over the Spotify playlist playing on the loudspeakers. Starting with little banter, you could feel the nerves and awkward energy filling the stage, but it quickly dissolved into the chilly air once the chords for their second song flooded the amphitheater. After some members got tangled in their pedal cords, The Diz played some original tunes, such as “Ventriloquist,” “A Song for Elise,” and what appeared to be a fan favorite, “Dazed and Confused.” Feick, the front woman and lead vocals of The Diz, proved she could truly do it all, switching from vocals to guitar to bass. She left the entire amphitheater (and those watching in the SME building) in awe of her vocal range, which resulted in an electric performance. Murmurs of awe filled the crowd (“How have we never heard of them before?” “They were so good, her vocals, phenomenal.”) and it seemed that everyone immediately took to Instagram to give them a follow and seek out their next show. 

Up next was Aidan Bissett, opening with “I Can’t Be Your Friend”. It didn’t take long for fans to start belting lyrics back to Bissett, a rising star signed to Capitol Records. When technical difficulties arose before his performance of “Communication,” the singer made the most of the disrupted time to pose for a fan’s BeReal. Debuting live an unreleased song, “Out Of My League,” Bissett strutted across the stage in his Doc Martens. By the time he covered “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, Bissett had successfully won  over those in the crowd who didn’t particularly like his music. Bissett exited the stage with a promise to meet fans after his set & the show; as soon as the lights dimmed, half of the crowd was out of their seats and rushing to find him.

Finally, the time arrived for the man of the hour: Role Model. Starting strong with “Cross Your Mind,” Role Model strutted across the large stage as if it was a dance floor. His energy was unparalleled. He cracked jokes immediately between songs about fans who yelled at him for eating at Seed and Sprout as soon as he finished placing his order. Everyone was taken by Role Model’s charismatic yet goofy stage persona by the second song, “Jesus Saves”—if they weren’t all ready. Expertly interacting with fans from those in the front row to those outside the venue, he acknowledged everyone who took the time to come and see him, even thanking those who were forced to attend by friends or significant others. The set list consisted of throwbacks and a majority of tracks from his debut album Rx; each song flowed seamlessly into the next, and there was never a quiet moment with him on stage. Fans belted lyrics at the top of their lungs, matching Role Model’s energy to a T. Surprising fans, he covered “Night Changes” by One Direction, heightening the number of screams emanating from the crowd. Role Model’s gratitude, cheeky jokes, and enthusiastic energy throughout his performance were unlike I’ve ever seen before. He seemed genuinely grateful to be able to perform in front of anyone who would watch and listen. During his last song, “Forever,” he took to the edge of the stage, giving high fives to everyone in the front row. Everyone crying or screaming in excitement, students filed out of the venue, curious as to who will headline Sun God (ASCE’s Spring festival)—since Role Model would’ve been perfect for the job. 

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