The University’s annual week-long festival, Hoptoberfest, ended on Friday, Oct. 8 with a concert featuring indie-pop star Zella Day. Sponsored by the Hopkins Parents Fund and run by a student group of the same name, Hoptoberfest celebrates the coming of Halloween and the fall. This year marked a return of the festival to an in-person format.
The festival ended where it started: the Beach. However, rather than dozens of pumpkins dotting the grass as they did Monday morning, Friday saw a makeshift stage. The Beach was almost filled with a crowd of 200 audience members either lying in the grass or surrounding the stage.
While it was certainly not a mosh pit, the packed attendance seemed to reflect the desire for a return to the in-person concerts and other traditions that were not possible over the last year and a half. That this was one of the biggest events at the Beach and in two years probably added to the atmosphere.
Nathaniel Chavez, a junior who went to the concert, discussed the in-person experience in an interview with The News-Letter.
“Honestly it was surprising to see so many people come out. It felt like almost the whole Beach was full,” he said. “It felt surreal to see so many people actually get together and enjoy themselves after so long.”
The performance, much like every other concert, started late. However, once Day came on, she compensated with a great deal of passion and with a live band that provided a highly energetic punch to her songs. Between songs, she was quite responsive to the audience too, joking with them about the Hopkins baseball team and shouting out the University by name several times as well. The audience, too, was quite energetic and quickly became very involved with the show as the night progressed.
Day, an Arizonan singer-songwriter coming from a tradition of desert rock and post-punk, performed popular hits from her 2015 self-titled EP like “East of Eden” and “Sweet Ophelia,” which brought her to fame initially. She also performed some tracks from her upcoming album Sunday in Heaven, speaking about how it came about as well as the new tour that she’s doing for the album. Themes of love, loss and nostalgia were common in her lyrics, particularly on the tracks from the new record.
The chorus to new single “Golden” highlighted these themes.
“We live in a world, rich and the poor/People are crying, we can't ignore/But here in this place, we have the moment/It feels so good to be understood and to be golden,” Day sang.
While the subject matter may have suggested a more subdued tone to the evening, Day’s performance was anything but that. She used the live band to channel a more pop-rock energy, laced her songs with ad libs and background vocalists and engaged in calls and responses with the audience. One could feel that Day, an artist who has opened for and worked closely with Lana Del Rey, was channelling some of the eccentricity, energy and Americana stylings of Del Rey in her performance.
According to junior Alejandro Ross the best part of the concert was the fact that it could even happen in the first place.
“Although [I’d] never listened to Zella Day before, I still had a great time with my friends, and just liked the fact that we were all together after a long time. It felt a bit like a return to normal,” Ross said.
Indeed, the return of big events like these seemed to be a common theme through the night, with even Day acknowledging during her performance how good it was to be touring again.
As the night ended, the performance felt like the ideal way to cap off Hoptoberfest: the opportunity to enjoy the post-punk stylings of Zella Day with an eager crowd of Hopkins students and the cool evening breeze of a coming fall. This was the ideal return to a cherished fall tradition that had to somewhat be put on pause but will hopefully continue long into the future.