Despite a gloomy forecast, fall Lawnparties drew crowds of students to the main stage on the Frist North Lawn, who joined in dancing and singing along to the headlining indie rock outfit, Hippo Campus, on Sunday, Sept. 11. Equipped with umbrellas and rain coats, students braved the rain in order to partake in the Princeton tradition.
The selection of the band, announced by University Student Government (USG) in August, marks a genre shift for the festival. In recent history, the event has primarily featured rap artists as headliners: Main stage performances were put on by A$AP Ferg and Flo Milli in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022, respectively.
For some attendees, this shift had a significant impact on their experience with the festival.
“I think it’s good to have a variety of artists coming to campus, and I’m personally very excited,” Greta Harrington ’25 told The Daily Princetonian prior to the show. “I think that people will vibe no matter what.”
Stephen Bartell ’25 echoed these feelings: “I feel like I’m one of the few people on this campus really excited for Hippo Campus — I love them, I’m stoked to see them.”
Others noted how the music’s more low-key energy resulted what they saw as a less chaotic and potentially safer viewing experience, compared to events in past years. At fall Lawnparties last year, raucous, overcrowded audience spaces, pushing, and moshing resulted in at least one student injury, with some Black, female students feeling particularly targeted by the violence.
Crowd control was also supported by USG’s decision to host the headline performance on the Frist Campus Center lawn, which has more space for attendees than Quadrangle Club’s backyard. USG chose to host the event in the Frist North Lawn for the first time last spring, when construction rendered the Quad backyard temporarily unavailable.
Students upheld the longstanding theme of preppy and pastel-hued attire, enjoyed free food and music along Prospect avenue, and took photos in front of the Fountain of Freedom.
Students began lining up for admittance wristbands and bagels in McCosh courtyard from 10 a.m. onwards.
Food trucks, including Nomad Pizza and Fox & Son, opened for students at 12 p.m. Students also enjoyed fried oreos, Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, Taco Bell, fresh mango, pretzels, and a barbecue hosted by Chabad.
“Gotta get fueled up,” Daniel Bauman ’23 told the ‘Prince.’ “I had pizza, mango, and a quesadilla, so the options were great.”
There were also water stations along the street, encouraging students to stay hydrated throughout the day’s festivities.
This year’s fall Lawnparties took place on the first Sunday of the school year — notably earlier in the semester than last year’s event on Oct. 3. Many attendees reported that the early September date felt abrupt, as it was so soon after the start of the semester. However, before the pandemic, it had been tradition for Lawnparties to take place in the first month of the academic year.
“It feels soon and strange,” said Raphi Gold ’26, “but it also feels better because we’re not too far into the academic year.”
“I think that if it were later on in the academic year, we would feel pressure to just be studying today,” she continued, “whereas right now I feel totally comfortable just having fun and not really doing anything.”
“It does feel soon,” Oren Swagel ’26 said. But he also noted that for freshmen, Lawnparties being held earlier this year could facilitate new friendships.
“The social culture on Lawnparties is very inclusive,” Swagel said. “Everyone who wants to attend can attend.”
Changes to vibes and venue aside, the festivities proceeded largely in line with tradition.
Student opener Villanelle, formerly known as Sam Spector Music, performed on the main stage at 3 p.m., opening for Hippo Campus. The group’s set list included several unreleased original songs, according to a tweet promoting the performance that Sam Spector ’24 posted in August.
“I think it’s been a good opener, she’s gotten the crowd excited,” Nicholas Urbati ’25 told the ‘Prince’ after the show.
At 4 p.m., Hippo Campus took the stage, sporting all Princeton merch. The band riffed on their spirit-wear to connect with students in the audience.
“It looks like we f***ing go to school here,” frontman Jake Luppen said.
Luppen also commented on the inclement weather, asking, “Are you guys f***ing soaked?” before launching into the band’s next song.
Attendees sang along, danced, and generally frolicked. Some students hoisted friends on their shoulders and others held signs. The band performed songs from their recent album, “LP3,” as well as other hits.
“I really like the vibe. I think it’s really fitting for Lawnparties,” Emilie Chau ’25 told the ‘Prince.’ “It’s definitely a little more chill. Like rather than everyone jumping around, it’s more relaxed and laid back.”
In addition to Hippo Campus and Villanelle, many eating clubs hosted their own performers. Ivy Club hosted DJ AKKI to get students dancing before house-music headliner Proper Villains took the stage. Colonial boasted singer-songwriter JENEVIEVE, as well as Miami DJ Jun-iLL, on its front lawn. Cap & Gown Club held a performance by student band Strawberry Milk, the student opener from Lawnparties spring 2022.
Due to rain, Tower Club moved its performer, indie trio Almost Monday, indoors. Quadrangle Club followed suit with an indoor concert by performer Ramona Jade. Terrace F. Club hosted artists The Lesson GK and All Smoke No Mirrors.
Izzy Jacobson is a news staff writer and features contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tess Weinreich is an assistant news editor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at email@example.com.