Binghamton University students jumped along to a live concert by Alice Longyu Gao and LustSickPuppy, forming a mosh pit in the Underground Cafe on campus. This concert was the first Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP) in-person performance since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
BUMP is a committee of the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) and hosts free concerts featuring underground and lesser-known artists. Until the concert on Thursday, Nov. 4, BUMP had been hosting virtual concerts throughout the pandemic.
Sean McManus, a senior majoring in Japanese studies, is the chairman of BUMP. He was more than excited to return to concerts held on campus for students.
“I was in this position last year when we were pretty much completely virtual, and I tried to keep the spirit of live music alive throughout that with livestreams from artists broadcasted exclusively to [BU] students,” McManus wrote in an email. “But really, there is just nothing at all that compares to the feeling of being in person and seeing a concert yourself.”
BUMP books musicians who are up-and-coming and different from the mainstream. The concerts provide not only the opportunity for fans to see their favorite lesser-known musician, but it also gives students the chance to discover new music and for musicians to earn new fans.
Juliette Bell, a junior majoring in psychology, is a transfer student who had never been to a BUMP show and was not a huge fan of Gao going into the concert.
“I’m familiar with [Gao] but not as much as others,” Bell said. “I’m just here to vibe.”
McManus is responsible for finding talent, booking artists and everything else involved with planning the BUMP shows. He was a fan of 100 Gecs, but the musical duo did not have much content beyond their popular album at the time of their BUMP performance. His love of 100 Gecs led him to find Gao, an artist with similar sounds, who ultimately became the main act for the concert.
“When I heard through some random music publication that this artist named Alice Longyu Gao had a new song produced by Dylan Brady (half of 100 Gecs) I instantly checked it out and fell in love with ‘Rich Bitch Juice’ because how could you not?” McManus wrote. “It’s such a hit! And ever since then, I’ve just been a huge fan because she has not let down since to be honest.”
Gao’s music style can be described as hyper punk and hyperpop. Gao’s latest EP, “High Dragon and Universe,” has punk rock and techno sounds with bangers like “100 Boyfriends.”
Samson Grimm, a senior majoring in computer science, once attended a concert where Gao performed, but he only saw part of her set because he had to leave early.
“I’m glad I got another chance to see her,” Grimm said. “I really like ‘Rich Bitch Juice’ and ‘LEGEND.’ I listen to a lot of hyperpop too. I’m seeing 100 Gecs in a couple of months.”
McManus heard of the opening act, LustSickPuppy, through his friend. LustSickPuppy raps and makes hyperpop music as well. Her music is electronic and danceable, which was perfect for generating excitement in the crowd — even on a school night.
LustSickPuppy and Gao were McCanus’ final choices because of their lively stage presence and contagious energy.
“I think the two of these artists really have this perfectly complementary punk energy about themselves,” McManus wrote. “They both express this in different ways obviously, but I knew that if they came here to [BU], they would put on an absolutely unforgettable high-energy show.”
Both musicians had their own style of energy during their sets. LustSickPuppy had a more intense stage presence and industrial vibe of music. She danced with attendees, smiled amid a mosh pit and stared back at the shyer concertgoers.
“If you look at me and you look away, I’m going to look harder,” LustSickPuppy said.
LustSickPuppy’s intense confidence was appreciated by the crowd as they cheered along to her statement. On the other hand, Gao had a more playful energy to her set. She entered the stage in a glittery dress that made her glimmer while she jumped and twirled to her own music. She even introduced herself with an air of humor by DJing “SpongeBob SquarePants” and Britney Spears songs.
“You are here for stand-up comedy, not for music,” Gao said. “I just talked too much.”
The two artists’ music and energies were clearly a hit as the crowd was dancing nonstop. Some crowd members knew the words to the songs and sang along with the music, but others danced away as they heard the lyrics for the first time.
“I think when you have artists making music that’s as out-of-the-box as LustSickPuppy and [Gao], it can be a little scary because it’s like, ‘Oh man, are the right people gonna find out about this?’” McManus wrote. “Are the people that hear about this totally gonna hate it? But I’m very confident in my choices and I think it paid off because it seemed like everybody who attended was having a great time!”
Both acts jumped off the stage and danced within the crowd during their respective sets. Everyone circled LustSickPuppy and waved their arms around her and jumped along with Gao.
“It felt so special and cool that not only did they feel comfortable enough to come into the audience, but that energy was totally reciprocated,” McManus said. “It really highlighted what is amazing about BUMP, which is the intimacy of these shows.”
Gao performed unreleased songs during her set that she explained were only on her computer. These songs were a bit softer than her usual style of music, but they were a big hit with the crowd who swayed back and forth to the indie pop songs.
Despite Gao’s humorous introduction to the crowd, she later shared personal experiences about her life and opened up to the crowd. Gao is originally from Bengbu, China and was an international student in the United States. She exclaimed with pride how she has grown from struggling to learn English to writing her own songs. Gao also discussed her experience with American friends and advice for BU students.
“If you are not an international student, just know they really want to be your friend,” Gao said. “Give them a chance, you know.”
Gao also went into her life as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and the crowd cheered for her honesty.
“Anyone here, like me, not heterosexual?” Gao asked. “Based on my many years of experience being non-heterosexual, let me tell you, being gay is OK.”
After she finished her mini-speech, Gao introduced her next song on the setlist, “100 Boyfriends.” Gao said people thought she was straight after releasing the song, but Gao discovered sexuality is a spectrum after years of identifying as a lesbian.
“I basically love people, and I am pansexual now,” Gao said. “But then I released ‘100 Boyfriends’ and everybody was like, ‘Oh my god, is she straight?’ I’m so not straight bro, just let me live and blow up the song on TikTok.”
BUMP has previously booked musicians who blew up soon after, such as Mitski, Beach Bunny and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Gao spoke of the harsh realities of the music industry with the crowd during her set, but McManus felt her songs have the potential to go viral.
“The music industry is very fickle, and [Gao] herself is very candid in speaking of the ups and particularly the downs of being in the music industry,” McManus wrote. “But I think if TikTok gets ahold of one of her songs it could really open the floodgates because she is so insanely talented, and her discography is absolutely stacked with amazing songs.”
Whether you loved the performances or didn’t get the chance to see the show, you can check out LustSickPuppy’s new single “EGO BRUISER,” and Gao’s new EP “High Dragon and Universe” on Spotify.
BUMP is also planning to set up more shows for next semester, so be on the lookout for announcements by the SAPB on its Instagram, @bingsapb.