ASU 365 Community Union features diverse headliners in 2021 fall concert series
For 3 nights in a row at Sun Devil Stadium, concerts open to both ASU students and the public featured headlining artists Teddy Swims, D Smoke and Japanese Breakfast
Tucked behind the main video board of Sun Devil Stadium is the Coca-Cola Sun Deck. Transformed into an intimate concert venue once a year, the outdoor event venue offers community members the chance to enjoy some of their favorite musical talent under the stars. While the venue is used only a few days of the year for concerts, the Sun Deck is designed to host events year-round, unless already in use for a football game, as a part of the recent renovations and development of ASU 365 Community Union’s programs. Past Sun Deck concert headliners include Gin Blossoms, Pink Sweat$, The Band Perry, Vic Mensa, Soccer Mommy and Open Mike Eagle.
On Nov. 2, ASU 365 Community Union partnered with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center for a free Salute to Service concert on the Coca-Cola Sun Deck headlined by Atlanta-based artist Teddy Swims. Mixing the sounds and elements of rock, soul and R&B, Swims made waves with cover and original songs alike during his set. Preparing to release a new EP titled "Tough Love" on Jan. 21, 2022, Swims will begin a world tour shortly after, which is set to return to Phoenix in April at the Crescent Ballroom.
Opening the Salute to Service concert was ASU alumna Samara Cyn. The local rap artist was welcomed to the stage by Michelle Loposky, director of student success and partnerships at the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. Cyn graduated in May from ASU, where she volunteered at the center tutoring student veterans. Cyn’s relatable lyrics, brilliant tone and smooth stage presence entertained concert attendees of all ages, proving that this Sun Devil will surely thrive in her music career.
Concerts on the Coca-Cola Sun Deck continued the following night with Grammy-nominated rap artist D Smoke, who rose to popularity after winning the Netflix competition series "Rhythm + Flow." Hailing from Inglewood, California, D Smoke studied Spanish at UCLA and later became a Spanish teacher at Inglewood High School, the inspiration for the title of his debut album, "Inglewood High." The bilingual artist and former Spanish teacher raps in both English and Spanish on several of his tracks, including "Gaspar Yanga," "Bullies" and "Black Habits I."
Shock and excitement came from the crowd when D Smoke brought out local rap artist and fellow "Rhythm + Flow" contestant Ali Tomineek to perform one of his songs, "Yikes," from the show. Directly after his encore of "Last Supper," his track from the "Rhythm + Flow" finale, D Smoke told the audience that the show on the Coca-Cola Sun Deck was one of his favorite live performances. His energy was met by excited cheers from the audience. At the conclusion of his encore, and to the audience’s surprise, D Smoke climbed into the crowd to meet fans one by one.
Opening for D Smoke that night was the up-and-coming talent Jean Dawson. With inspiration drawn from artists like Nirvana, Kanye West, Outkast, N.E.R.D. and 50 Cent, Dawson’s music falls into a genre-less musical movement that is taking the new generation by storm. Performing songs from his most recent album, "Pixel Bath," with lyrics in both English and Spanish, his compelling performance on the Coca-Cola Sun Deck was high-energy from beginning to end as fans jumped, danced and sang through every song.
The concert series concluded on Nov. 4 with a show from Grammy-nominated indie pop/rock sensation Japanese Breakfast. The concert on the Coca-Cola Sun Deck was one of many North American tour dates for the band's Jubilee Tour and the second of three Arizona dates. With a nearly sold-out show, Japanese Breakfast did not disappoint fans with their eclectic style and stage presence. Along with the live performance, attendees and fans were able to purchase merchandise and signed copies of lead vocalist Michelle Zauner’s memoir and New York Times bestseller "Crying in H Mart."
To kick off the Japanese Breakfast show on Nov. 4, alternative artist SASAMI performed some of her popular tracks with elements of heavy metal, rock and indie flair. Influenced by indie and alternative rock with modern songwriting, SASAMI’s songs brought relatability and undeniable energy to the Coca-Cola Sun Deck on the closing night of the fall 2021 concert series.
Stay informed on ASU 365 Community Union events and programs by subscribing to the ASU 365 Community Union newsletter and following @asu365community on Instagram and Facebook, or @asu365cu on Twitter.
Top photo of Japanese Breakfast by Tim Trumble
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