The music was as great as the weather, and the energy reached an all time high.
As the final pre-show soundcheck concluded, doors opened for Juice Jam 2017. Students gradually began to trickle into the Skytop Field-turned festival grounds, as all threats of bad weather subsided.
While students made their way to the main stage, I was able to sit down with Juice Jam’s first act of the day, indie-electronic artist Jeremy Zucker. The young college student seemed calm and collected, with no sign of concern before his first festival appearance. He humbly admitted that this was the largest crowd he ever played, and that he was skipping classes the next day to do it. Taking the stage in front of hundreds of fans, Zucker brought his signature pop electronic sound using guitar, vocals, and electronic pads to perform his music. Students screamed as he entered, singing along to Motions tracks such as “Man Down” and set-opener “Shut Your Mouth.” During his performance of the newly released track “Talk is Overrated,” featuring a verse from his “idol” Blackbear, Zucker jumped down into the pit to greet and take pictures with exulting fans. During his last song, “Bout It,” Jeremy shared the microphone with featured rappers Daniel James and Benjamin O. Zucker’s youthful energy provided an honest, raw performance that captured and satisfied viewers.
As Jeremy’s set concluded, students rushed to the indie stage to see Los Angeles based band Smallpools. The group walked out and played “Passenger Side” off of their 2017 EP THE SCIENCE OF LETTING GO, immediately providing the crowd with uplifting, positive energy. Students were so engaged in the set that even when the sound cut out briefly, they begged for (and received) a ripping drum solo from Beau Kuther. Other highlights of the set included an inflatable killer whale, student crowdsurfers during “Million Bucks,” and an admirable cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” The group closed with their most famous hit, the anthemic song “Dreaming,” igniting students for the following acts.
Just after Smallpools finished their set on the Indie Stage, MØ took control of the main stage. From the moment she emerged on stage, MØ brought an electric energy that translated well into the crowd. Opening with Cold Water, the Major Lazer track that features MØ’s intense vocals, MØ captured the full attention of the audience while simultaneously hyping up the crowd for Diplo’s anticipated performance. With the bass consistently pushing her electropop beats, MØ went on to deliver her new track, “Nights With You,” along with other stand-out tracks including “Kamikaze,” “Don’t Leave,” and “Final Song”—all while executing her intriguing, loose-limbed choreography on stage. But MØ didn’t spend all her time on stage; in fact, some could say she spent just as much time down in the crowd. After repeatedly taking the stage as her own, MØ then went on to take the crowd as her own. The Danish singer went from merely hopping on the fence to fully jumping over the fence and crowdsurfing through the right side of the crowd. Closing with “Lean On,” it’s safe to say that MØ rallied the crowd while keeping anticipation high for Diplo.
As Ugly God took the stage yesterday, flexing Supreme gear and a Louis Vuitton crossbody, the crowd surrounding the Indie Stage erupted with excitement. Opening with “No Lies” (feat. Wiz Khalifa), Ugly God made sure the audience acknowledged Khalifa’s recent birthday while delivering the intriguing track with a steady beat. Shortly after, the crowd began to absorb the rhythmic influences that accompany most of the tracks on Ugly God’s most recent project, The Booty Tape. Of these tracks, Ugly God delivered memorable performances of “Bitch,” “Fuck Ugly God,” “Booty,” and “Stop Smoking Black & Milds,” while intermittently stopping to let people know that he personally doesn’t like anyone that smokes Black & Milds and that Pokemon Yellow is the best color to play. It didn’t take long for Ugly God to deliver his authentic mantra that the crowd repeatedly shouted back after each track—“Thanks Ugly God.” When asked later on about how he adopted his tagline, Ugly God said that it was something that just came to him via fans on different social media platforms. Just before leaving the stage, Ugly God played his anthem, “Water,” while soaking the crowd with bottles of water.
As Ugly God’s performance came to a close, students flocked over to the main stage, waiting to see JJ 2017 headliner, Diplo, touch foot at Syracuse University for the first time. Students screamed as he came on stage to his signature opening mix, and immediately Skytop began to shake. Playing hits such as “Febreeze,” “Mind,” and “Where Are Ü Now,” Diplo kept the energy high throughout the whole show. He paid his respects to Kanye West by putting on a bear mask toward the end, honoring the 10th birthday of Graduation. Confetti burst in the air and University Union beach balls floated all around the crowd. As his set came to an end, Diplo left us with a brief remark: “Shout out Ugly God, shout out MØ. I love you guys, but I gotta go.” According to his Snap Story, he boarded a helicopter bound to New York City upon the conclusion of his set. The life in his 70 minute set encapsulated the energy from the day as a whole, the perfect climax to conclude an outstanding day.
With thousands of students and five immensely talented acts gracing Skytop Field, this semester’s Juice Jam proved to be one of the most lively of it’s kind in years.
by PJ Walshe & Sabrina Ghantous