Getting out of the taxi outside the Odeon, there are already girls dressed in ridiculously high shoes tottering around yet it is only 7pm. As I turn the corner, walking towards Oceana, I realise what a treat I really am in for as I am greeted with a funfair complete with an ice cream van, dodgems and plenty of rides which look vomit-inducing. This is going to be fun.
Heading inside the decadently decorated building (complete with drapes, and more drapes) the VIP arrival reception proved worth attending; being greeted by SUSU-branded cupcakes and as much free champagne as you could drink. Following speeches from previous, current, and future sabbaticals, it was time for the event to really kick off, which DJ Soc did brilliantly, despite the few people there at 8pm. As more students excitedly burst into the Bar Quarter, Triassic performed their final ever set with great conviction and intensity. Their bouncy pop-rock was well-suited to the occasion and it seemed apt that this was their last gig as 2 of the 4 members are graduating. Playing a variety of their own songs, they also performed a cover of M.I.A.’s ‘Paper Planes’ which went down particularly well, before ending on fan-favourite ‘These Are The Panic Attacks’.
Soon afterwards, the pint-sized Charley Macaulay also performed in the Bar Quarter along with her 7 member band. Having recently signed to Acid Jazz Records, her soulful, jazzy voice combined with the liveliness of her band got the audience dancing, before Amelia Lily’s set which was even more energetic. Kicking off with ‘Shut Up (And Give Me Whatever You Got)’ she also performed ‘Party Over’ before unexpectedly doing acoustic covers of Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ and Paramore’s ‘Still Into You’. Unfortunately, despite her impeccable vocal ability, the sound system in the room proved to be a little one-dimensional with her backing track battling against the X Factor contestant’s voice.
By this point Oceana was busy and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Drinks were reasonably cheap (£3.90 for a double vodka) and the music was good. SUSU veteran Chris Stark continued the good vibes in the Disco Room by playing songs from the past few years including feel-good classics like ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘I Gotta Feeling’. Meanwhile confusion set in amongst many students as those waiting to see Example in the Ice House were instead given a performance from DJ Fresh (Only later to find out that the headline act, Example, had cancelled). However, once everyone got over the shock that he wasn’t Example, he proved to be a brilliant replacement act with a slick sounding set which continued the party for the audience. Whilst the MC was a little repetitive at times, a variety of tracks were performed with the vocal help of Fleur which worked incredibly well with her strong voice, especially at such late notice.
Although the acts who did perform were excellent in the slot which Example would have been in, his missing performance did have a knock-on effect on the scheduling which was unfortunate. This meant that those hoping to see Scott Mills’ DJ set may have missed it as he began and ended early. He played a selection of brilliant pop anthems but there was confusion when the bouncers insisted on evacuating the dance floor whilst they cleaned it, with Mills blasting Nelly’s ‘Hot In Herre’. This was soon followed by father-son duo Stavros Flatley who finished fourth on the 2009 series of Britain’s Got Talent. After a hilarious performance of the Greek dance that made them famous, they climbed onto the inner bar at the side of the dance floor and strangely danced above everyone else. It was funny in an odd way, but really seemed quite clumsy and an unnecessary performance. Did anyone really go to Grad Ball just to see them?
Pendulum’s DJ set went down a treat with the ravers who were in full swing by 2am, ending on their 2010 smash hit ‘Watercolour’. Meanwhile, DJ Soc did well downstairs to keep the music going in the Bar Quarter, and the free funfair proved to be very popular as it reached it’s peak with a substantial demand for all of the rides available. Playing his second set of the evening in the Disco Room, Chris Stark pulled out a mix of Britpop, rock and cheese, going from One Direction to Oasis, and Bieber to Green Day which was something that the inebriated crowd joyfully lapped up.
With an even more peculiar mix of music from 2.15am, was R3WIRE and VARSKI in the Ice House who served up delicious drum and bass remixes of some of the most unlikely tunes such as Lana Del Rey’s ‘Summertime Sadness’, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, and even R-Kelly’s ‘Bump N’ Grind’. With plenty of countdowns, calls to “PUT YOUR HANDS UP IN THE AIR!” and questioning of “ARE YOU READY?!” it proved to be an energised set which empowered the students who were still there, right up until the end of the night.
Heading outside at 4am for the legendary “survivors’ photo” it was getting light, and it was raining. There was a massive queue for a taxi and everyone was exhausted, but it did not matter. Despite Example pulling out of the event, SUSU’s Grad Ball was a huge success, and the perfect party to celebrate the end of university life.