Rae Sremmurd Performs at ONWARD 2023
On Thursday, April 20, a seemingly never-ending line wrapped around the perimeter of the Richie Regan Recreation Center as over 1,900 students and alumni eagerly awaited doors opening for ONWARD 2023, the Student Activities Board’s (SAB) yearly concert, this year featuring hip hop duo, Rae Sremmurd with special guest opener DJ Mal.
Rae Sremmurd, made up of brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi, put on an electrifying performance the moment they hit the stage in the Field House. The reaction from the crowd was met with the same level of excitement as everyone started to scream and began singing along.
“The reaction from students the moment they took the stage was incredible! There was a roar from the crowd, the Field House floor started to shake, and in that moment, you knew that it was going to be an amazing show” shared Alyssa Beyer, Assistant Director for Student Activities and co-adviser to SAB. Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi are energetic performers and had great on-stage presence – they were roaming all over the stage, interacting with the audience, and even took some selfies with the crowd.
With four albums, and Swae Lee’s solo material, this duo has such a deep catalog that there was never a lull in the show – it was hit song after hit song. Throughout the night, Swae Lee also made it a point to share uplifting messages highlighting his appreciation for the diversity he saw in the crowd and acknowledging how college can be challenging but encouraged the audience to persevere, make their families proud, and "put that diploma on the wall."
Before Rae Sremmurd took the stage, DJ Mal, got the crowd going with a lively performance. He is a campus favorite performing at many signature events throughout the year, so naturally he was a great choice to kick off ONWARD 2023.
"When I found out that Rae Sremmurd was coming, I literally screamed. Then for the next month I counted down the days until I could see Swae Lee in person, I’m a huge fan. After getting the chance to meet them, that day will be very hard to top" shared Halima Koroma, English major, class of 2025. SAB Live Events Chair Dylan Schwartz shared, "I have had many people come up to me and say that they were happy we were able to get someone with a larger name, not to mention a hip hop act."
SAB Live Events Coordinators, Jillian Crain (Biology major, class of 2024) and Dylan Schwartz (Biochemistry and Philosophy major, class of 2024), began planning ONWARD 2023 over the summer. Relying on data from campus-wide surveys and student feedback, they used this information to narrow down genres and research performers. SAB works with a college middle agent who helps the board identify artists actively performing in the college market and serves as a liaison between the University and entertainment agencies.
SAB announced Rae Sremmurd has the headliner for ONWARD right before the University headed into Easter break. The announcement was met with overwhelming excitement from the student body. Jillian, who was traveling during Easter break shared, "I had just gotten off the plane and my phone started to blow up with notifications once I got service. I checked the Instagram post and couldn’t believe that, in around two hours, it had gotten such a large, positive reaction. When the students showed excitement for the concert, it really paid off for everything Dylan, our advisors, and I worked towards."
"There are a lot of moving parts that come into play when planning a large concert. We are often faced with unexpected challenges such as performers being unavailable for our dates or declining our offers to perform for various reasons out of our control" shared Alison Sotolongo Miller, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement, and co-Advisor to SAB. "We are fortunate to work with so many incredible campus partners who help us bring events like this together. We worked collaboratively with Public Safety and the Athletics Recreation Center to discuss various date and location options so that we could lock in this show."
An unforgettable moment from the night was when they started their song "Black Beatles." Rae Sremmurd and the crowd froze to perform the mannequin challenge, a viral video trend popularized in 2016 by that hit song. Once the beat dropped, the crowd was ecstatic, and the entire room was singing along.
SAB was thrilled to see so many students attend ONWARD this year, "I appreciate being able to be a representative for the student body. Every time an artist was suggested to us, both Jill and I wanted to make sure they would be well received by the student body. While it is a tiring process at times, it is very rewarding to decide on a performer we think SHU will love and see the event come to life. It’s a fun way to make an impact on the school community and put a smile on people’s faces" shared Dylan.
If you are interested in learning about upcoming events, have suggestions for performers or events, or want to get involved with SAB follow them on Instagram at @shu_sab, join the SAB page on Engage, and reach out via e-mail at [email protected]. Stay tuned for the SAB End of Year Survey to share your ideas and feedback for next Fall!