Event takes audiences on a sonic journey “Coast to Coast”

Artists from USC and NYU, including hip hop artist Sumit Chandra, spanned across a plethora of genres all night.(Photo Courtesy of USC Concerts on YouTube).

On Sunday, Coast to Coast took audiences between New York City and Los Angeles to witness the sonic musings of artists from USC and NYU. The event was packaged with smooth transitions that showed off scenery from L.A.’s iconic beaches to NYC’s stunning skyline. The six student performances featured Maverick, June Is Over, Ellie Williams, Jeffrey Eli, Sumit and Iz LaMarr. This show was the result of a collaboration between USC Concerts Committee and NYU Clive Live. Sophie Kaplan, a student at NYU and the head of Clive Live, said that this collaboration opened her eyes to the differences between USC’s Thornton School of Music and NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. 

“It’s been interesting because I’ve noticed that USC focuses a lot more on songwriting,” Kaplan said. “Clive focuses a lot more on production, which has been kind of interesting to see just in the types of music I’ve been hearing from all the artists that are performing.” 

Putting together a concert that features artists from coast to coast is no easy task. Not only were the performers on opposite sides of the country but so were the students behind the scenes who made the event possible. Kaplan, who resides on the east coast, worked with USC students on the west coast, such as Matt Garfinkel, a USC junior majoring in journalism and director of special events for the USC Concerts Committee. 

Ultimately, the project came together just in time for the summer.

“We’re just really glad that we’re able to provide that platform for the artists and that we were able to work together,” Garfinkel said. “It’s been a lot of fun and very easy to work with the Clive Live team at NYU, they’re fantastic.” 

On the artist side of things, the event was an opportunity to not only connect with the local audience but to also expand their reach. Out of the six performers, three were from USC, with the other half from NYU.

This is the first Coast to Coast event collaboration between USC and NYU, and, while it was online, Kaplan hopes the next one will be in person. 

“Obviously there’s a lot of logistical things that need to be worked out seeing as we’re across the country, but it could be cool if we were able to put on some in-person shows in LA,” Kaplan said. “I know a lot of Clive kids are from Los Angeles, I think we could totally make something like that work or if there’s people in the USC program that are in New York for the summer, we could do something like that.” 

The show opened up with Maverick Fabela, a USC junior majoring in Jazz Studies, who impressed everyone with his groovy, high energy song, “1,000 Other Guys” featuring Jermtown. Sitting in front of a keyboard with a Baby Yoda perched atop, he set the vibe in a room surrounded by instruments as soft sunlight peering in through the windows. He closed the set with their song “F.O.M.O.,” which took listeners on a ride through tense chords before reaching a sweet and melancholic resolution. 

Up next was NYU musical duo June Is Over, who performed inside a cozy bedroom adorned with posters. Their first song, “Five Months,” opened up slowly and built to a strong chorus accompanied by a raunchy electric guitar. However, their last song, “Sugar,” was a departure from their initial tone. Audiences were transported to another bedroom, and the performance was reminiscent of the intimacy of an MTV Unplugged special as they swapped out the electric guitar for an acoustic one instead. 

USC junior Ellie Williams performed next. She opened up her set on a sentimental note with “Partly,” a song about the overwhelming feelings of love. Accompanied by keyboardist Paige Thibault, Williams set a playful, lowkey tone as she strummed an acoustic guitar and ended the song on an impressive A cappella vocal run. She adjusted her heart-shaped, red-tinted glasses before introducing the next song titled “Clueless.” As she sang about a clueless love interest, the upbeat song ended with soft melancholiness.

NYU’s Jeffrey Eli followed William’s set with a chilling pop performance. They strummed an acoustic guitar for the first song they performed — a softly strummed pop song titled “Sleeping Beauty” that dove into a story about performing gender roles to avoid standing out. Next, Eli ramped up the energy in their performance of “Nauseous.” For this song, they ditched the acoustic guitar and sang along to a backing track with pumping synths, bright leads and thundering drums, bringing a vibrant energy to the set. 

Following Eli was USC’s Sumit Chandra, a rising junior majoring in Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, who shifted the energy of the event by using the camera more actively. With a set composed entirely of unreleased songs, Sumit brought comedy, creativity and surprise to his performances as he performed not only new hip hop songs but also a skit with his stuffed animals. The first song he performed was titled “She Don’t,” which featured a dynamic drum track, stunted chords and a groovy bass. Next, he performed a hip-hop song with a heavy R&B influence titled “All I Need.” He closed the set with a song he said he wrote that morning titled “Intro.demo1,” that was slower in tempo and emphasized a keyboard as the main part of the beat. 

The event was Sumit’s second live show, and he thought the experience was exceptionally fulfilling. 

“It’s dope, that I get to perform alongside artists that I didn’t even know before and I’m sure they didn’t know me,” Sumit said. “I think a big part about being a small artist is reaching as many people as you can and so the fact that my demographic is mostly college kids, and I get to hit another college demographic is really, really helpful to me as an artist.” 

Closing the show was Iz LaMarr, a rising junior at NYU, who performed songs “AF1” and “Home” from his repertoire. He performed from a dance studio-like set, with colorful walls and windows that provided a peek of New York’s iconic cityscape. LaMarr’s set was notably dynamic, alternating between two different cameras as he danced along to his raps. While “AF1” was characterized by booming 808’s, “Home” exemplified a laidback, west coast sound popular to 90s California hip hop — perfectly fitting the theme of Coast To Coast styles.