It was an afternoon full of music, excitement and something the students had been waiting for: the return of live music. The associate students held their first concert at the Becker Amphitheater since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the performances of the student artists gave way to an entertaining return to the small stage.
Willa Marj, a fourth-year communications student at CSUF, performed a mix of original songs and covers. She starred alongside Dylan Dagdag, who goes by the stage name Avacie. Avacie provided instrumental accompaniment on guitar and bass.
During the hour-long concert, attendees reclined in bean bags near the stage and enjoyed free snacks provided by Juice It Up.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the amphitheater frequently hosted guest artists for concerts, but has remained mostly silent since March 2020.
Cristian Sanchez, the programming coordinator for Associated Students, said this concert served to gauge student interest in future events. With this series of mini-concerts, ASI hopes to shine a light on artists in the Titan community, Sanchez said.
“We try to find artists that are not very well known, and especially students that we know who are artists,” Sanchez said. “We are doing our best to collaborate with programs like Titan Radio, because they would have more connections with the students.”
This is not the first concert Marj has played for ASI, as she performed a virtual show during the pandemic, Sanchez said. Many ASIs were eager to have another opportunity to showcase his talent.
“We knew we’d love to see her again, so we decided to do another gig with her, but this time in person and on a longer set,” Sanchez said.
Marj said this was the first live concert she has given live since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but mentioned that virtual concerts are not the same as they have no live crowd.
“It’s such a unique experience to have a live performance with real people that you can see, you can really share this moment together and you can really use their energy to motivate you,” said Marj.
Marj’s love for the stage dates back to her childhood and singing karaoke with her family at parties. From there, she got involved in the performing arts in high school and began collaborating with Avacie, who she has been friends with since first grade, Marj said.
“I’ve always loved singing and he’s always loved playing guitar, so it fits together perfectly. We were playing together, he was playing guitar and I was singing and we just started making music together as we got older, ”Marj said.
She added that after graduating, she hopes to continue playing music professionally.
Genalyn Duyon, a public health major who attended the concert, said she appreciated it, although she did not know about the artist until the concert.
“I didn’t know a lot of songs that she sang, but when she mentioned some artists that she liked and the ones she did covers of, as well as her own songs, I was like, ‘Hey, that’s more like well, ”said Duyon.
One of the songs Marj performed was her 2020 single “Text Me Back”, which was the first song she wrote herself. Marj says she’s drawn to genres like R&B and neo-soul, and opened the show with a mashup of Paramore and Oliva Rodrigo and performed a number of covers of other artists she admires like Niki. and Umi.
After the show, Marj stayed on stage to greet fans and sign autographs. She attributes the success to the special energy that only comes from performing.
“You can really share this moment together and you can really use their energy to motivate you, and that’s what made this performance so good,” said Marj. “Because I can really see how the public was reacting to me, so in a way it helped me and made me want to do better.”
Marj’s music is available on all major streaming platforms including Apple Music and Spotify under Willa Marj or Willa Marj & the Cloud.
ASI is planning another concert at the amphitheater in November and hope to bring more music to campus with regular events like their upcoming Pumpkin Patch and All Night Study.