Ella Mai and Bazzi to perform at outdoor concert


Courtesy of SUB

Ella Mai won Best R&B Song at the 2019 Grammy Awards for “Boo’d Up.”

Tanner Owens

The Student Union Board’s Spring Outdoor Concert returns for a second year, featuring Grammy award-winning R&B artist Ella Mai and viral pop artist Bazzi.

The concert will be held in parking lot 29 of the Molecular Biology Building, where doors open at 5 p.m. and the concert will commence at 6 p.m. Tickets for the April 25 show will cost students $25 while those without student identification will pay $39.

This concert is the second of its kind at Iowa State, as the first outdoor concert took place last year and hosted hip-hop artists Fetty Wap, Cheat Codes and KYLE. Last year’s concert was a success in terms of attendance but the performances and relevance of the performers were lackluster. This year’s headliners, however, have generated a great deal of buzz, with the 2019 headliner announcement earning over 300 more reactions on Facebook than last year’s. In addition, this year’s announcement was shared over 200 times more.

“Last year’s performers were kind of ‘meh,’” said Matt Hagan, a junior in finance. “Fetty Wap hadn’t made anything good in a while. I don’t really know Ella Mai, but I was excited to hear that Bazzi was coming. I didn’t expect that.”

Despite last year’s concert catching some flak, some students believe that the level of talent hasn’t changed.

“I thought Fetty Wap put on a great show,” said Kyle Baumhover, a junior in marketing. “KYLE and Cheat Codes were okay. I’m excited for this year, too. Ella Mai and Bazzi both have had some good songs come out.”

The improved response hasn’t been lost on the event’s organizers either. Megan Riordan, SUB’s national events director, said that the response on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.

The planning of the event started in the latter half of last semester.

“Our adviser gave us a list of various performers who were in our price range,” Riordan said. “We decided that Ella Mai and Bazzi made a good fit for Iowa State and started to put out the releases.”

Ella Mai is a 24-year-old singer hailing from London, making waves in the R&B genre. The Recording Academy nominated her for two Grammy awards in 2019 for her debut album’s lead single “Boo’d Up.” Mai was passed over for the Song of the Year award, but won the Best R&B Song award. The singer was also nominated for the “British Breakthrough Act” award at the 2019 Brit Awards.

The popularity of “Boo’d Up” caught Mai by surprise, she said in a Billboard interview.

I think it’s something that I’ve dreamed about, and anyone dreams about, their whole life,” Mai said. “So, to actually see it and read it [has] been incredible. I still have to pinch myself to know that this is actually happening.”

Prior to her 2018 self-titled album, Mai released a trilogy of extended playlists titled “Time,” “Change” and “Ready” under DJ Mustard’s record label. Her stop in Ames comes in the midst of her sold out, 69-stop U.S. tour.

Andrew Bazzi, known mononymously as Bazzi, joins Ella Mai on the headlining ticket. His 2017 song, “Mine,” skyrocketed up the charts to reach number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song spread rapidly through various forms of social media, such as Snapchat.

Following the success of “Mine,” Bazzi released his debut album, “Cosmic.” The 2018 album featured 16 songs and topped out at number 14 on the Billboard 200 chart. Bazzi’s second single off the album, “Beautiful,” features Camila Cabello, who experienced her own quick rise to fame in 2017.

Bazzi’s success stems from the now-defunct video-sharing app known as Vine, where he accrued more than a million followers in a two-year span. The singer released a song in 2016 titled “Bring Me Home.”

The singer/rapper signed a record deal with Artist Partner Group within days of “Mine” being released. The sudden influx of attention to Bazzi drew the attention of pop-star Justin Timberlake, who enlisted Bazzi as an opener for the European leg of the “Man of the Woods Tour.”

More recently, Bazzi has released two summer-ready singles; “Caught in the Fire” was released on April 1, while “Paradise” released three days later. The singer told Billboard that he just wants everyone to feel included during his shows.

“What motivates me is connecting with people and making everybody feel loved,” Bazzi said.

Tickets for the show are available through MidwesTIX.com or through the Maintenance Shop box office.