SUB’s third annual AmFest unifies students through power of music
Rapper Aminé headlined music and arts festival in the Tavern
The crowd at AmFest was thin throughout the night, but as Aminé’s performance approached, the Tavern became increasingly filled with students. When Aminé took the stage, his voice flowed through the room and the lights danced across his face. The crowd lit up and welcomed the Ethiopian rapper they had been waiting for.
According to a press release announcing AmFest, the Student Union Board aimed to showcase the cultural diversity of the AU community. Outreach coordinator Maliyah Grant said AmFest is inspired by counterparts at other D.C. universities, such as Georgetown’s “Georgetown Day” and Howard University’s “HU Fest.” AU did not host an event like this until three years ago, when AmFest began.
“We definitely want to support local artists and local merchants,” said Richard Kepler, SUB’s director of promotion and marketing. “We want to give the local community something to listen to from this area and have big artists perform with them as well.”
Artists from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) came to showcase their pottery, prints and other original artwork. There were also records, posters, tapestries and jewelry being sold.
“It’s a great way for us to put our work out there,” said Jo Nana, one of the student artists from MICA.
Many of the students said they were drawn to the event because of the headliner, Aminé, a rapper best known for his 2017 album “Good For You,” which includes his hit single, “Caroline.” The Ethiopian community at AU, in particular, was excited for Aminé to be on campus.
“I’m here for Aminé, I have Ethiopian pride,” freshman Hela Gemechu said.
Other acts included the Smith Gardens, Nkula, Lavender, FootXColes, Koleco, Mac Ayres, Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son and G.U.M.P., which are all local DMV artists.
Lavender is a band that started at AU’s Battle of the Bands last year. At AmFest, they returned to perform at AU for the first time since they graduated, in the same spot where they first performed -- the Tavern. Bobby Mahoney and the 7th Son was another highlight, and their set consisted of the songs that they said they were going to play at a Bon Jovi concert the next day.
Students said that they liked the variety of the acts that performed. Sophomore Amanda Nyang’oro, a photographer for the Blackprint who was one of many student media contributors taking photos of the event, enjoyed discovering new artists and particularly liked the live element.
“I find hearing [music] live is best,” she said. “It’s good to see artists in a platform you don’t usually see them.”
Gemechu agreed, saying that she liked how AmFest united the community.
“We don’t have many unifying events [at AU],” Gemechu said. “When you bring in different artists, you see different people. A lot of people were brought together by this, which is good.”
Grant said she wanted students to have this reaction and to connect through AmFest.
“We want students to know that there’s always something to look forward to, there’s always something for the community,” she said.
Kepler also believes that it’s important for students to come out for events like AmFest.
“I transferred to AU last year and didn’t receive much information about stuff like this; we want students to know that stuff like this exists,” he said. “It’s something that the school offers for free, and it’s a great opportunity to come out with friends and actively participate in what the school has to offer.”