The Bradley Center was transformed into a music venue on Saturday, as hundreds of students and outside attendees filled the gym to take in the largest event on the College Programming Board’s calendar, the spring concert. This year was another full slate of talent, which featured two headlining acts: the pop duo MKTO and alternative rockers New Politics. Both groups have released hit singles in the past two years that have been commercially and critically successful.
Kicking off the primetime event was pop rock band Pros & iCons, which featured recent Ramapo alumnus Lenny Morales on guitar. The group infused energy early on in the night, playing songs from their recent EP “Iconography.” Their half hour set included songs “Raining in June,” “Days of September” and “Tidal Wave,” their closing song.
“I’ve gotta give credit to Ben Neill; he was my advisor and he taught me everything I know,” Morales said. “I’m really excited to represent Ramapo because I owe them everything.”
A large portion of the concert was dominated by New Politics, with their high energy performance. The band fed off of the lively bunch of college students – lead singer David Boyd exhibited his showmanship with a series of breakdancing routines mid-set, and topped it off with a stellar backflip. Coming to Ramapo was almost a homecoming for drummer Louis Vecchio, a Long Island native, and for the two Danish members of the band, Boyd and guitar player and singer Søren Hansen, as it is only a stone’s throw away from their secondary home in Brooklyn.
Ramapo is not the first college New Politics has played at, but it is one of the biggest, according to Boyd.
“We’ve done college shows before but this is one of the bigger ones we’ve played at. It’s a beautiful campus too,” he said.
They began the show with 2013 single “Tonight You’re Perfect” and “Give Me Hope,” a song from their first album. The very new song “Loyalties among Thieves,” written while on tour with groups Paramore and Fall Out Boy, led into a boisterous cover of the Beastie Boys smash hit “Sabotage.” It didn’t take Boyd long to become one with the crowd, jumping in and being held up by the audience. Their set was finished with recent single “Harlem” and rounded out a performance consisting of an impressive 11 songs.
The highly anticipated pair MKTO, known best for their summer hit “Classic,” performed for the pop hungry crowd. Alongside their band, the duo performed “Could Be Me,” a song off their debut album “MKTO” and which typically features Ne-Yo. During this song they thumped on the drums and subsequently tossed their drumsticks into the audience.
Also off of their debut album, MKTO played “No More Second Chances,” “American Dream,” “Heartbreak Holiday” and “Thank You.” They also performed some new music that is not currently available, including songs “Bad Girls,” “Monaco” and “Afraid of the Dark.” They also covered the Paul McCartney, Rihanna and Kanye West collaboration of “FourFiveSeconds.”
Throughout their set they tossed T-shirts, towels and even squeezed entire bottles of water that showered multiple sections of the pit. The finale was, of course, “Classic” and opening band Pros & iCons joined MKTO on stage to help pump up the crowd.
A dazzling light display, in conjunction with the animated and dynamic performances of each of the acts, brought the house down.
When the members of New Politics were asked what advice they had for budding musicians at Ramapo, Boyd talked about the difficulties of learning how to make it in an industry that requires constant perseverance and adaptation.
“It’s so easy to follow your dreams and not say 'no' and keep going; the test is how much failure and struggle you can actually take,” Boyd expressed. “There’s so many things that tie in because there is no formula to art or trying to create a dream. You’re the only one that’s there and no one else is going to understand it, so you have to create it somehow. I don’t know the idea of going to school and learning about it because it doesn’t have a formula. You can say this is what art is, but it’s a really tough thing. You just have to keep going.”
That being said, Hansen stressed the importance of long-lasting relationships, many of which are built during college, in the music industry.
“The good thing about going to school is that you’re meeting people who want the same thing,” said Hansen. “Some of those people you’ll know for the rest of your life, and that’s a good thing. One thing that I feel is very important when you do something like this is that you always surround yourself with people who want the same thing.”