Last Saturday, UC San Diego held its first Sun God Festival since the beginning of the pandemic. Students arrived in droves to RIMAC Field under the mellow San Diego sun. The day was not without difficulties; the return of the long-standing tradition was marred by student complaints of a lackluster lineup. Between and even during performances, students waited in lines for food that stretched the width of the field. The line to enter the festival stretched for half a mile. Those who made it onto the field enjoyed five excellent performances, along with carnival rides, photo ops, food trucks, and meet-and-greet opportunities.
First to take the stage was the singer Berhana, who performed a laid-back but passionate set. The singer performed tracks from his R&B-funk-soul-inspired album HAN, and introduced a new song toward the end of his time on stage. He kicked off the festival with a delightful show, soaking up the sun with a smile on his face. His luxurious music filled the air as more students began to pour onto the field.
Peach Tree Rascals, a five-person alternative music collective, followed up with an energetic performance that included their songs “LEAVE ME” and “Glide.” The three singers in the band spent most of their set on the platform that extended into the crowd, dancing and interacting with the students. They imbued the festival with exuberance, smiling, hugging, and clearly enjoying themselves. The group closed out their set with a euphoric rendition of the fan-favorite “Mariposa” as students sang along enthusiastically.
Next, Umi—a 23-year-old singer known for her low-fi, R&B songs—brought a peaceful energy as she took the stage barefoot. She began her performance by asking the crowd to take a deep breath and remain present in the moment, urging them to find an inner peace in the chaos of the day. The singer’s effervescent nature charmed the crowd between performances of songs like “Sorry” and “Butterfly” (and even a song she created on the spot!) that demonstrated her vocal prowess.
Later on, Keshi arrived, welcomed at the start of his performance by the crowd of students chanting his name. His bass-heavy set brought an electricity to the stage, accompanied by bright red and yellow visuals on the large screens behind him reminiscent of fire and lightning. The 27-year-old singer and producer broadcast a comfortable swagger as he performed the dynamic “GET IT” and slowed it down with “skeletons.” The set also highlighted the excellent performances from guitarist Vin Landolfi and drummer Darnell Howard, both of whom shined in their respective solos.
Finally, headliner Iann Dior took the stage, starting off his set with an energetic performance of “Good Day.” The 23-year-old rapper jumped around the stage, encouraging people to follow their dreams in between songs. His performance capped off a successful day as clouds of smoke erupted out of the stage when the beat dropped. Ultimately, ASCE put on a vibrant festival with fantastic performances, and I personally can’t wait for the next one.
View the rest of the photos from the day here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzNfJs