Rhythms Music Festival brings familiar faces and new Bay Area talent


A group of SF State students pose for the camera at the front of the line for the G-EAZY concert at the Annex the evening of Fri. April 10. The show was the last hit of a weeklong celebration for SF State’s annual Rhythms Music Festival. (Kate Fraser / Xpress)

Under the vaulted ceiling of the Annex, a congregation of approximately 1,120 students ceremoniously raised their camera phones as rapper G-Eazy emerged from a veil of smoke into a single spotlight. Ambient background lighting gradually rose around the Oakland-born artist as he asked the crowd, “Are we turning the fuck up and raging our faces off tonight?”

G-Eazy’s performance at SF State Friday was the culminating event of Associated Students, Inc.’s annual Rhythms Music Festival. The week-long series showcased Bay Area DJs, bands and musicians on campus April 6-10.

G-Eazy played for a full house at the Annex along with surprise guest artists Devon Baldwin and Casey Veggies.

The initial ticket release sold out within the first eight hours, according to Associated Students Programs and Services social media administrator Lupita Uribe.

ASPS director Horace Montgomery attributed the concert’s success to student involvement.

“From the beginning, we took input from students on who they wanted to see perform,” Montgomery said. “Then we narrowed it down and we were able to give the kids what they wanted.”

The event kicked off Monday with a music symposium held in the J. Paul Leonard Library conference room, where a panel focused on maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit, presenting an authentic artistic brand and keeping a close circle of supportive fans and colleagues.

The speakers included industry professionals such as producers, personal managers, marketing strategists and event coordinators who offered insight to their professional position to students interested in pursuing careers in the music industry.

James Guttman, account manager at music marketing company Fame House, underscored the importance of perseverance in one’s professional journey.

Gerald Gillum also known as G-Eazy, 26, of Oakland, Calif., is the main act at the Rhythms Music Festival put on by Associated Students Inc. at San Francisco State University, on Friday, April 10, 2015.  (Sarabeth Maney / Special to Xpress)
Gerald Gillum also known as G-Eazy, 26, of Oakland, Calif., is the main act at the Rhythms Music Festival put on by Associated Students Inc. at San Francisco State University, on Friday, April 10, 2015. (Sarahbeth Maney / Special to Xpress)

“Take a look at yourself in the proverbial mirror and believe what you see,” Guttman said. “Things may not always turn out the way you plan, but results will come with consistent effort.”

College talent and entertainment platform CAMPVS hosted Tuesday’s national Campus DJ competition at The Depot. The event served as a regional contest including participants from SF State, West Valley College and University of California, Berkeley.

Heather Liu, who was last year’s competitor from UC Berkeley, and CAMPVS founder Evan Shapiro judged the competition and scored each contender on a scale from 1-10 on originality, technical skill and stage presence during their 10-minute set. The audience also had the opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite performer on Campus DJ’s website and on Tinder.

The contest resulted in a tie between the judges’ tally and the fan favorite.

SF State’s Michael Soto, also known by his stage name, DJ Mike Cool, took the campus title and earned an opportunity to open for G-Eazy on Friday. Both he and Berkeley DJ Al Truest will move on to the semi-national final round May 9.

Soto said he was running high on adrenaline and was rendered speechless after his winning set.

“I really can’t put into words how I’m feeling right now,” Soto said. “I’m shaking. That was so crazy.”

Five SF State bands went head-to-head in a contest of originality, quality of talent and appeal to the judge’s personal preference for CAMPVS’s College Battle of the Bands at The Depot Wednesday night.

The six-person hip-hop group Students of the City took first place. Their high-energy performance earned the band a $250 cash prize, Sol Republic headphones and an opening spot at G-Eazy’s concert.

Local indie pop band, The Y-Axes placed second with a prize of $200, followed by SF State’s Speakeasy in third place with a prize of $150.

Students of the City frontman Voris Forte said their win came as a shock to the band. He said he hopes that the group’s one-of-a-kind sound inspires the next generation of artists.

“We’re motivated by God’s blessings and, of course, our fans’ support,” Forte said. “It’s always fun to feed off their energy and party with them onstage.”

The Annex pulsed with electronic dance beats at Thursday’s student dance. The night’s talent included SF State DJs Ryan Pau, Michael Milano and Turn 2 DJ duo Jack Veronin and Miguel Flores.

Pau, a freshman broadcast and electric communication arts student, said he was slightly disappointed with the event’s minimal attendance but enjoyed his experience playing out of a large sound system.

“Although the turnout wasn’t that great, I did have fun seeing my friends come and support me,” Pau said. “As a DJ, it makes me happy to see others dance and have a good time to the music I provide for them.”

Involving students in on-campus activities was just one aspect of Rhythms Music Festival, according to ASI special events assistant, Sam White.

“The event gives students the opportunity to get a foot in the door with people who are already in the business,” White said. “Our goal is to help our students have a great time and if they want, make some important connections along the way.”