Spring Fling returns after three-year hiatus, Sammy Rae & The Friends to headline

Quinn Casey and Margaux Kanamori

Sammy Rae & The Friends, an eight-piece band led by singer and songwriter Sammy Rae, will headline the Spring Fling concert on April 29. Since the event has been canceled in recent years because of the pandemic, this year’s Spring Fling will be the first for most students on campus.

Before Sammy Rae & The Friends, All Campus Entertainment (ACE) announced in an all-campus email on Monday, three student groups will perform in the second annual Williams Battle of the Bands in the early afternoon. The winner will receive a prize and the opportunity to open for the professional band in the late afternoon.

ACE is working with the Office of Campus Life (OCL) to plan the event. Similar to last year’s Spring Festival, the concert will take place on a covered stage in Science Quad.

The search for a Spring Fling artist began last September when ACE announced the return of the tradition and asked the College community for artist and genre recommendations in a campus-wide email. ACE invited students to request artists with 500,000 to 4 million monthly Spotify listeners. After the first survey, ACE compiled a list of eight artists representing genres from hip-hop to indie rock and asked students to rank the artists in a second survey.

Starting in the fall, ACE worked with OCL to secure Sammy Rae & The Friends. “Almost 600 students responded to the ranking form, and Sammy Rae was ranked as the favorite by the respondents,” the ACE Concert Committee wrote in an email to the Record. “As a result, we reached out to them and subsequently secured a booking.”

Sammy Rae & The Friends’ sound features saxophones, keyboards, guitar, and percussion alongside smooth vocals. The band is influenced by classic rock, jazz, and gospel music. Since the release of the band’s first EP, The Good Life, in 2018, it has gained popularity. The band now has over 700,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Touring across the United States and internationally, the band gives high-energy performances and aims to spread a message of inclusivity. “Given Williams’ hope to promote similar ideals on campus, we found the group’s mission consistent with the community the student body strives to foster,” the ACE Concert Committee wrote. “This was initially taken into consideration when we selected them as one of the artists to be ranked by students, as well as their rapid growth in popularity.”

In interviews with the Record, students voiced their enthusiasm about the return of the tradition. Zoe Kaegi ’23, whose favorite band is Sammy Rae & The Friends, said she was excited for both the artist and the concert. “I’ve seen them in concert before back in 2021, and they were such a tight-knit band — so talented, and amazing performers,” Kaegi wrote to the Record. “I know they have quite a lot of fans here at Williams, so I have a feeling it’ll be a great show.”

Past Spring Fling artists include rapper and songwriter Princess Nokia, indie singer-songwriter Chelsea Cutler, and rapper and songwriter A Boogie wit da Hoodie. “ACE is excited to bring a new genre of music to campus,” Associate Director for Student Centers and Events Sam Boyden and Associate Director for Student Organizations and Club Sports Kris Hoey wrote in an email to the Record. “We feel pretty lucky to get Sammy Rae & The Friends for Spring Fling this year, especially since they are coming off of a sold out European tour.”

Student bands and performers are invited to send seven- to eight-minute audition tapes for the Battle of the Bands competition to ACE by April 7. ACE will choose three entries to perform a 15-minute set in the early afternoon. After a live round of voting from the audience, the winner will later open for Sammy Rae & The Friends and receive a prize that has yet to be determined.

While the student body will choose the winner, ACE will work with a student committee to choose the three performances that represent the wide range of musical talents and interest at the College. “We carried out the same process last year for [the] Spring Festival, and felt like it was a good approach this year to accomplish this aim we set forth,” the committee wrote.

In addition to the setlist, ACE is hosting a contest to pick the design featured on advertising materials and t-shirts. The winner will receive a $250 gift card to their preferred Spring Street establishment.

“Honestly, this feels like the perfect way to bring Spring Fling back,” Kaegi wrote. “I’ve never actually been to a Spring Fling before, so for Sammy Rae & The Friends to be the band to bring it back is so special, especially for my senior year.”