SUSU Grad Ball 2014: two perspectives

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After suffering a drop out from Zane Lowe and various rumours concerning the health of Ella Eyre and Lawson frontman Andy Brown, SUSU came through and put on a highly successful – if slightly musically strange – graduation ball.

Last night, thousands of recent graduates descended on Oceana, decked out in their best black tie, for one last night of shenanigans before embarking on the arduous process of packing an entire room or deep-cleaning a student house. SUSU had gone all out; those arriving at the club were greeted by celebrity lookalikes, dancers on stilts and – as promised – an extensive fairground. A venture inside revealed an impressive level of detail. The three main rooms – the Icehouse, Gatsby’s, and the Disco Room – were well distinguished from one another, fitting neatly into the Hollywood theme. Oceana suffers from a strange layout involving a lot of steps, but students seemed to wander happily between the rooms, and they were well signed. There were pleasant surprises – the night suffered none of the queuing problems of the Humanities Ball, for example.

Highlights of the – eclectic to say the least – line up included Ella Eyre, Gorgon City, The Monroes and the Surge DJ’s. Finding fame last year featuring on Rudimental’s track ‘Waiting All Night’, much anticipated act Ella Eyre proved musically solid and particularly popular – main room the ‘Icehouse’ was packed out for her set. Lawson – the sort of band where you’ll recognise two songs and you won’t know why – followed, with a reasonably strong and upbeat set that perhaps struggled somewhat to get the crowd going; the multiple rooms and outside fairground meant that areas would be packed out and suddenly huge spaces would appear, for no apparent reason. This was particularly evident during Gorgon City’s DJ set, but those who patiently waited were rewarded with ‘Ready For Your Love’, their huge house track released with MNEK earlier this year.

For those looking for something a bit different, The Monroes brought a touch of class to ‘Gatsby’s’, which had the referenced film playing on a screen on the wall. The jazz band proved a popular choice, and this room maintained a buzz throughout the night even though it was separated from the other rooms by all those steps. The Surge DJ’s took over this room in the early hours, playing a well thought-out set that got everyone dancing even when new heels meant their feet were starting to hurt.

Lost for a few hours in the glamour of SUSU’s Hollywood, we realised it was starting to get light as we walked home.

Words by Cat Olley

ellaeyre

Arriving at Leisure World, the area was already busy with graduates trying to meet up with friends and girls navigating the crowds in some rather high heels. Turning towards Oceana, I was pleasantly surprised at the efforts SUSU had made – a funfair with several rides including dodgems, a waltzer and a queasy-looking spinning ferris wheel amongst plenty of food stalls. It seemed most people had the same idea to get in as many rides as possible before the main acts were due to play and of course, before everyone had had too much to drink. But despite the queues it never felt like we were waiting long.

Heading inside, the Bar Quarter – which had been turned into ‘Gatsby’s’ – didn’t look to be highly decorated other than a few nets of balloons but had a nice atmosphere and was packed out for most of the night with DJ Soc providing the music until 11pm. Drink prices were pretty reasonable with doubles at £3.70. Although the queues for drinks were as long as can be expected, there was the opportunity to buy Sambuca shots on the move. Heading up to the Icehouse at 11, it was already very packed to listen to the set by headliner Ella Eyre. The set was short but sweet and well receive by the crowd. Crowd favourites were Rudimental’s ‘Waiting All Night’ and her new single ‘If I Go’ which is due to be released on 6th July. Like all good performers, she gained much audience interaction by getting the crowd to sing along. Her powerful voice supported by her talented backing musicians made her the stand out performer at the Grad Ball and not one to be missed.

After a half hour wait, Lawson came onto the Icehouse stage and played a 45 minute set. Playing through all their singles, they played a solid set despite not really having much of the crowd’s attention towards the beginning of the set. However single ‘Standing In The Dark’ and closer ‘Juliet’ got Southampton singing and dancing along. Perhaps not the sort of band the typical student wants to have at their Grad Ball, Lawson played a good set and the majority seem to enjoy watching them play. Heading back to the Bar Quarter after 1pm, the area was quite empty due to Gorgon City playing upstairs in the Icehouse. However, this gave those who remained plenty of space to dance to the old school songs (Outkast – Hey Ya) played by the Surge DJs. The exhausted students who managed to make it to the end of the night headed outside for the legendary 4am survivors photo before heading to the massive queues waiting for taxis. Overall, despite concerns about the acts, SUSU pulled off a great mix of music, themes and entertainment for a brilliant night to celebrate the end of university life.

Words by Jenny Simpson

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