Photo by Jane Montalto
By Jane Montalto and Carmela Cassara

On April 21, hundreds of Stony Brook students buzzed with excitement while they waited on an extensive line that poured out of the Island Federal Arena. Step by infinite step, they inched closer to the door, where the event that many had been waiting for was already beginning.

Perhaps one of Stony Brook’s most highly anticipated events of the spring semester, Brookfest finally made its return. Rapper Young M.A and R&B artist Capella Grey performed to a sold-out crowd before headliner Gunna took the stage for the first Brookfest in two years. 

The line for the concert started hours early, with a sizable crowd backed up to East Side Dining anxiously awaiting the show. Upon entry into the arena, they were greeted with the music of DJ Potential, a popular student DJ on campus.  

Photo by Carmela Cassara
Photo by Jane Montalto

Due to fire regulations, only about a third of the floor of the arena was filled, leaving plenty of room for those with floor tickets to dance around. As the doors opened at 6:30, some audience members wandered in and found their seats, patiently waiting for the opening acts. It was obvious that the stands, like the floor directly in front of the stage, were not entirely filled, as there were many students still outside, waiting to be let in. Despite this, Capella Grey opened his set, facing a largely empty stadium. He only played two songs before heading offstage. The crowd was confused, but ultimately distracted — they were anxiously awaiting the bigger artists. 

Due to Capella Grey’s premature departure, there was a lot of time before the next act. During the lull, more people from outside trickled in, and music continued to play courtesy of DJ Potential, who stood behind a booth at the front of the stadium. Before Young M.A came onstage, members of USG threw rolledup Brookfest t-shirts into the crowd, boosting morale and anticipation. Students danced to DJ Potential’s set as the bass was bumping throughout the venue. It was clear that many students were ecstatic to be there — for many, it was their first Brookfest, and for some, it was their last. 

Brooklyn-born rapper Young M.A tore up the stage when she finally entered. To amp up the crowd for her set, she encouraged everyone in the audience to turn on their phone flashlights and sway them in the air, illuminating the entire arena. There was a large group on stage with her — her entourage. They all danced as Young M.A sang her first songs. A few minutes in, Young M.A began to call for volunteers to come on stage to dance. There was clear hesitation from security, but she insisted on bringing a group of girls on stage.

Photo by Carmela Cassara
Photo by Julio Taku

Amanda Davidman, a senior health science major, was among the group that was brought on stage.

“I had to be lifted up over the barricade in front of everyone, and I’m really tall, so I was scared, but it worked out,” Davidman said. 

The spotlights of the stage illuminated Davidman and the other girls. After much encouragement from Young M.A, they engaged in a twerk-off. The audience erupted in support for the volunteers. 

“Being up there was so surreal at first,” Davidman said. “I was somewhat shy, but all the girls were hyping each other up, so then I felt better.”

With the crowd successfully amped, their anticipation peaked as they waited for Gunna. When he finally made his appearance on stage, fans howled as his first song rang out. Gunna frequently engaged with the audience, exciting many of the students on the floor. During one of his songs, he leapt right onto the barricade in front of the crowd and reached his hand out as hysterical fans jostled and tried to grab him. When Gunna performed his viral hit “pushin p,” the crowd chanted along and bounced to the music. 

To some, the crowd on the floor seemed to get a little too rambunctious. Taylor Matthews, a rising sophomore marine vertebrate biology major, was in the crowd of dancing students. “It was so much fun being on the floor in all the mosh pits that opened up, but it was also scary at some points,” he said.

Photo by Carmela Cassara
Photo by Jane Montalto

“Two people had to get pulled off of the floor by security … it looked like they passed out because of how many people were pushing,” Matthews said. “Sometimes [it was] scary, but overall [it] was an amazing time!”

At the end of the show, Stony Brook students flowed out of the arena into the dark night. People laughed and sang as they returned home after the energetic performances.

Photo by Jane Montalto
Photo by Jane Montalto

Davidman looks back on Brookfest fondly. “It was definitely a great experience, one of my favorite memories of senior year.”

After a two-year hiatus and a number of setbacks, Brookfest has finally reinstated itself as an important part of the spring semester at Stony Brook.


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