Through the crisp night air, the chants of “T-Pain, T-Pain, T-Pain,” rang out from the bleachers under a cloudy sky. This set the scene for Friday night’s first Whittfest.
After a semester and a half of planning, Whittfest (which was held at Memorial Stadium) set off Poet pride among students on Apr. 7, beginning with K-poet hosting K-chella. Opening acts 7 Planets Like Earth and alumni 15’ DJ Attello got students pumped up for headliner T-Pain. The gates opened around 6 p.m. and students of all years, along with friends, family, faculty, and alumni piled together into bleachers.
The audience screamed as headliner T-Pain sprung onto the stage, bringing his smooth voice, quick raps, and (surprisingly for most students) some talented dance moves. The crowd was singing along as loudly as possible during his more well-known songs such as ‘Buy U A Drank,’ ‘Up Down,’ and ‘I’m in Love Wit A Stripper.’ “It was definitely a fun night that really brought together the Whittier college community and that’s something to be proud of,” said senior Breana Gomez.
After a delay between songs, a little love from one audience member who shouted “You got this” at the performer, T-Pain got the crowd goin’ up, down; dancing all night like it was nothing. He even got on a sound board and created an original beat on the spot, as well as debuting a new song, with a chorus too explicit for press.
Not only was Whittier excited to have a big name performer on campus, but it also gave students, staff, faculty, and outside members the opportunity to come together. “We had so many people pitch in and participate. We had alumni there, we had media groups helping out. I’ve never seen so much collaboration on one event before and I hope we can continue that,” said Marquez. “We talk about community as one of our four Cs so why don’t we actually follow through with it? This was actually one of those things where we got something done as a community.”
With the help of Dean of Students Josh Hartman, the event was spearheaded by three students who ran four committees. The marketing committee and the production committees were run by senior Jazmin Ringgold; the hospitality committee, run by sophomore Keelin Bettridge; and the Sponsorship committee, run by junior Rudy Marquez.
According toMarquez, there was concern because ticket sales were slowing down as the days passed. However, in the days leading up to the concert and at the doors themselves, sales went up again, relieving the committee members. “We definitely at least broke even,” said Marquez with a smile. “Giving something that the students want and having it be extremely successful; that was rewarding.”
7 Planets Like Earth opened the night, playing well-known covers by artists like Estelle and Maroon 5 to entertain the incoming crowd. While the band has only officially been together for about three months, this was their debut, and they couldn’t contain their enthusiasm. “To be here right now is very exciting, and we feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to perform for the college and to open for T-Pain,” said vocalist junior Maggie Niemann.
DJ Attello was the winner of a competition held at Lyft Coffee in Uptown Whittier, which granted him a spot opening for T-Pain. “I’m honored. It means a lot, actually. I’ve always loved this campus,” said DJ Attello. “[Opening for T-Pain] is something you would want to be able to say, and maybe to boast about on a resume, but also to be humble about. So, I’m excited. I’m excited to be back, and go Poets!” Students enjoyed the fun atmosphere created by Attello.
Before T-Pain made that “booty work,” a meet and greet was held with him in the GAC for the press and for students who won the opportunity. Junior Kendyl Riley said it was almost a happy accident that she won a meet and greet with the artist. “I believe I bought my ticket before a certain date so I was entered into a raffle,” said Riley. “I wasn’t sure what to expect.” Although students only got a group photo with T-Pain, they are still grateful for the opportunity. “It will definitely be one of my top memories in college,” said Riley.
Poets can’t stop talking about Whittfest, which makes many hopeful for the future. “I thought it was an amazing idea,” said Gomez. “I know a lot of people worked really hard on it and it was awesome to see it all come together.”
Based on feedback from students, it seems that the Poets are ready for Whittfest in 2018. “We made it happen this year and we can definitely make it happen again in the coming years. It just takes planning and collaboration, and I think that’s what our focus is going to be on,” said Marquez. “We want to have a lot solidified this summer so we can get the ball rolling as soon as school starts and get people hyped.”