Briston Maroney, DOUBLECAMP and Annie DiRusso perform at GAB’s 2022 Spring Concert

Spring festival returns to W&L for the first time since May 2018


Catherine McKean

Briston Maroney performed at GAB’s spring concert.

Catherine McKean

On May 3, Washington and Lee’s General Activities Board hosted indie artists Briston Maroney, DOUBLECAMP and Annie DiRusso for a sunny afternoon of outdoor music.

This year’s spring festival marks the first time in four years that GAB has brought in musicians to perform during spring term, making the event a new experience for current undergraduates. The last spring concert featured Super Doppler and Anderson East in 2018, months before the class of ‘22 started their freshman year.

Ticketing and advertising for the event began in Commons the week before, with tickets going for $30 and ticket bundles including a cup and t-shirt going for $49.

Annie DiRusso, an indie rock artist from New York based in Nashville, Tennessee kicked off the concert in the Third Year parking lot at 4 p.m.

DiRusso, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter of “Coming Soon,” “20,” “Don’t Swerve” and newest release “Infinite Jest,” taught herself to sing and play the guitar at age 12. She centers her music around her experiences of early adulthood, relationships and hopes for her life beyond college graduation, themes that the W&L student audience could relate to and appreciate.

DiRusso said that a lot of the inspiration for her musical style comes from artists introduced to her as a child by her father, like Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan, as well as indie rock artists she discovered while studying at Belmont University.

As for her aesthetic, she looks towards her friends, what she is artistically drawn to and a fun, feminine take on rock, sporting bright green eyeshadow and thrifted jewelry. Her look and sound also have the goal of increasing the underrepresented female and non-binary presence in the rock genre, which she described as continuing to be a “boy’s club.”

“Women are the people revitalizing the [rock genre] right now, in my opinion,” said DiRusso. “But their voices don’t get lifted up even if they make amazing music.”

DiRusso hopes to be a part of the movement that changes that, and will be going on a national tour throughout May and June with her band members.

DOUBLECAMP, a bright indie pop band also based in Nashville, followed DiRusso’s set with a combination of original songs and covers of popular songs. The band is headed by best friend duo Joe Neary and Jordan Burmeister and started officially producing music in 2019. Their discography includes singles “Dreamers,” “Smoke and Mirrors,” “All My Friends Are Strangers” and latest release “Hard to be Human.”

The name DOUBLECAMP comes from the link between the duo themselves and the “camp” aspect, which they attribute to the support they receive from families, friends and fans.

The duo will also be going on a national tour throughout June and July, and are glad to be on the path to growing their supporter base.

Briston Maroney, an alternative indie artist from Knoxville, Tennessee, performed alongside his band mates as the final and most-anticipated set of the day, bringing along many songs from the “Sunflower: Deluxe” album just released on April 29 of this year including “Bottle Rocket,” “Kitchen” and “Rollercoaster.”

During his set, the 24-year-old Maroney joked about his own college experiences before dropping out to focus on music and compared them to what he had witnessed on the W&L campus throughout the day.

“I had maybe the most college experience of my life earlier today,” Maroney laughed between songs. “I walked by a guy in a hammock with a hat on, I think he had a frisbee, and he was just laying there listening to one of my songs. I was really awkward talking to him, but it was great.”

Although attendance wasn’t as high as expected due to a variety of reasons theorized in anonymous posts on YikYak, such as poor publicity compared to the advertisement for the winter concert, multiple athletic events occurring at the same time and many students studying abroad or optioning, those who did attend had a great time.

After the concert, many students stayed behind to chat with the performers and get autographs and photos.

“I had so much fun!” said Chloe Olsen, ‘23, as she waited to talk to bassist Zack Lockwood. “I just really enjoy outdoor music, and having multiple people perform a few different genres really gave this the festival feel.”

“I wish more people had come out today,” said Michael McLaughlin, ‘23. “It’s not music I would usually listen to, but I learned some new bands and I could get into it. I had a lot of fun.”

The performers agreed that they had a lot of fun too, and enjoyed being able to perform for and interact with students throughout the day.

“This event was dope,” said bassist Devin Badgett as he signed tickets, setlists, dollar bills and even a shirt. “I feel like everyone enjoyed it. All the people who came out tonight were real.”

Earlier in the concert, Briston Maroney had the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to Badgett, which Badgett found to be a funny and sweet experience.

Maroney said he was really won over by the students he got to meet during his time on campus, and that he is really excited to see where his tour continues to go after having one of his first stops here in Lexington.

“We’re just starting to get back out there, but so far the tour has been so smooth and so, so awesome,” said Maroney. “Washington and Lee is definitely different from your average college but the general kindness here has just been really awesome. We were at Hillel earlier for a snack and we definitely stood out as outsiders, obviously coming in from out of town, dressing very different, getting a lot of curious looks but everyone was just so real and so human. That was really nice to see.”

GAB Co-Chair Maddie Smith, ‘22, described getting to meet her musical idols as a dream come true after months of organizing the event and coordinating three separate sets for one day.

“It’s been my dream to bring artists like Briston Maroney here,” said Smith. “We haven’t had a spring concert since the year before I came to Washington and Lee, only winter concerts, but it’s always so much fun. Everyone today has just been so great and such a normal person and that just makes it that much better of an experience.”

GAB plans on continuing to host live music events during spring terms in later years alongside their annual fall shows and winter concerts.