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Homecoming concerts Gloriana, Earl Sweatshirt catered to niche fan groups

Earl Sweatshirt (in red) and Vince Staples (in gray) performed in UNC's 2014 Homecoming Concert at Memorial Hall on Wednesday. Sweatshirt is known as part of the alternative rap collective Odd Future Wolf Game Kill Them All.
Earl Sweatshirt (in red) and Vince Staples (in gray) performed in UNC's 2014 Homecoming Concert at Memorial Hall on Wednesday. Sweatshirt is known as part of the alternative rap collective Odd Future Wolf Game Kill Them All.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized the novelty of this year’s Homecoming concerts. The Carolina Union Activities Board has previously hosted two Homecoming acts in conjunction. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

“I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t get it perfect,” said Gabe Chess, senior and CUAB president.

“We’re learning through this. This may not be the model next year.”

This year’s double Homecoming concerts — country group Gloriana and hip-hop artist Earl Sweatshirt — collectively drew fewer than 900 students to Memorial Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday night combined.

Despite relatively low turnouts for both concerts, fans at the Tuesday and Wednesday shows had a lot of energy.

With only 304 of Memorial Hall’s seats filled, Gloriana’s Tuesday show was largely made up of loyal fans and attendees already familiar with the band, Chess said.

“The fans who were here seemed like really big fans, so there was a lot of excitement,” he said on Tuesday.

“It’s great because there are not a lot of students I usually see. That means we’re getting to interact with a group who works and pays tuition like everyone else when we wouldn’t normally.”

Performance usher and sophomore Kathryn Davis said she is a fan of Gloriana and has attended their concerts in the past.

“I actually really like them,” she said. “I’ve seen them perform in my hometown outside of Fort Bragg and it was great.”

Chess had similar sentiments on Wednesday during Earl Sweatshirt’s show. He said he estimates that the roughly 500 tickets sold for the show also went to Sweatshirt’s devoted fans.

“Earl Sweatshirt may not be the billboard artist that everybody knows, but he has a really strong fan base,” he said. “The people who know him know every word of every song.”

Junior environmental science major Harmony Bouley was one such fan who said she’s followed Sweatshirt because of the depth of his lyrics.

“I really like his writing,” she said. “He has very smart lyrics, but at the same time they’re very relatable.”

Gloriana’s opening performer, country musician Levi Hummon, also produced a positive response from those in attendance, which Chess said was exciting.

“People were already stopping Levi in the halls saying that they’re new fans, which is everything you can hope for in an opening set,” he said.

There was an increasing energy as the show went on, with the entire auditorium cheering or standing to sing and dance with the groups.

“I’m a big fan of country music, so I was really excited to come see (the show),” said freshman journalism major Hannah Dix.

“I think it’s good to shoot for two different genres of music with tonight and tomorrow’s shows, and I think it’ll appeal to a wider range of people.”

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Sophomore communication studies major September Brown said she also appreciated that CUAB brought different genres of music to Memorial Hall for Homecoming.

“It appeals to more groups of people by bringing more than one person. And we can pay for who we want to see.”

According to Chess’s ticket sales estimates, neither Gloriana nor Earl Sweatshirt came close to filling Memorial Hall, which seats 900 people on its ground level alone.

Andrew Romaine, a senior biology major, attended Sweatshirt’s Wednesday show, but not Gloriana’s.

“I think these two acts probably appeal to two different audiences, but I think I’d prefer one bigger name act in a bigger venue,” said Romaine, who also writes for The Daily Tar Heel’s sports desk.

While having two concerts was admirable, Davis said she thinks both shows cater to niche audiences.

“The demographic is kind of small,” Davis said. “I think a lot more people would have showed up if it had been a bigger, combined concert with more popular performers.”

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