While finals week may be just over the horizon, Hollybash brought students out to the Hollybush Green for one last day of fun this past weekend.
Organized by the Student University Programmers (SUP) through the Office of Student Activities (OSA), this all-day festival featured a variety of different outdoor games and activities, as well as food trucks, tie-dye body painting and a concert from CADE. Grammy-nominee Mike Posner was the headliner for the event.
With over 3,400 people in attendance throughout the day according to Devon Dyer, the Director of Live Events for SUP, offered a lot of insight into some of the roadblocks that came with running the event.
“Some of the challenges are the sheer size of the event and all the moving parts associated with it,” Dyer said. “It requires a lot of hands the day of, but we were very fortunate to have so many students show interest in volunteering and being a part of this awesome opportunity.”
“Also, staying on top of everything can be tricky, but if you and your lead team are extremely organized, the event will go well, which it ultimately did,” Dyer added.
One of the main attractions of Hollybash was the performances late in the evening from Burn Moore, CADE and Mike Posner.
The opening band, Burn Moore, won their spot at the Battle of the Bands and performed a handful of original songs and threw in an impromptu cover of “Uptown Funk” at the end of their set.
“All of us were a little bit nervous,” said sophomore jazz performance and music composition major and guitarist for Burn Moore, Zach Birnbaum.
“I looked at the bass player and was like, ‘Just channel that into energy,’ and we just danced around like idiots and it felt amazing,” Birnbaum added.
Opening for Mike Posner, the electronic artist CADE’s set featured a variety of his hits, including the likes of “Sorry for Myself” and “Monopoly.”
“When all my friends went off to sports and doing other things I just really wanted to focus on music and that’s what I did and I just take it day by day,” CADE said, citing a variety of different influences from both his family and the R&B and dance music he had been drawn to from a young age.
Prior to his set, CADE made note of how he was looking forward to performing on the Hollybash stage for Rowan’s student body, but being onstage is a personal experience regardless for him.
“I’m very passionate about the music I make,” he said. “Being able to get up there and not have to think about anything except for performing my music is a cool moment for me.”
Mike Posner took the stage after the sun went down, but the night was far from over. With a set including his hits “Cooler Than Me” and his Grammy-nominated “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” to a closing cover of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” many Rowan students walked away wowed from his set and the festival as a whole.
Junior music industry major Nick Rodriguez said, “He was absolutely incredible. From the start, he just went out hard and wanted to see the crowd go hard and that’s what his mission was today. I think he got it.”
Senior English and secondary education major Christina Dustman had some high praise for his live band, particularly his saxophone player.
“The sax guy is a god,” Dustman said. “He was great, made my night. I’ve never been [to Hollybash] before, and now I’m really upset that you guys [SUP] didn’t start this when I was a freshman, because this was really cool.”
Jacob Scesney, Mike Posner’s saxophone player, offered some insight after the show, reflecting on how his career led him to Hollybash.
“I’m from Los Angeles,” Scesney said. “I’ve been a professional musician for five years. I graduated college when I was 19 with an English degree, but the way the music industry works, it’s all about who you know and being a good person and trying to be as professional as possible. And, you know, someone knows someone knows someone knows someone. It’s a very small world. Next thing you know, I’m here.”
Scensey also really appreciated the positive atmosphere on campus, even at the cusp of finals week.
“It’s really incredible,” he continued. “There’s definitely a sense of family and community here. We play a lot of colleges and you don’t always get that vibe. I definitely got that vibe walking around campus. It’s a very pretty campus, a very vibrant student body. Everyone seemed involved. You guys had a lot of different carnival events, food trucks. Everyone got involved. No one was ever too cool for school.”
Leading the charge for student involvement, Dyer still has big plans in store for next year’s event, with hopes to start brainstorming as soon as school is over. Despite looking ahead, her memories of this year’s Hollybash won’t be going away anytime soon.
“My favorite memory this year is the same as my favorite memory last year: the students’ reactions,” she said. “Watching all of their faces light up during the concert, hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles during the day… that’s what makes this all worthwhile.”
Additional reporting by Joseph Gramigna.
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