Twice a year, students swarm Prospect Avenue for the peak of the University’s social calendar: Lawnparties. Featuring food trucks and live music leading up to the USG-sponsored headliner, the biannual event is an essential part of the Princeton student experience.
To examine the history of Lawnparties, the Daily Princetonian combed through our archives to pull the list of acts, categorize their genre, and measure their popularity by looking at their monthly listeners. Furthermore, the ‘Prince’ found weather data for Lawnparties of years past to see how often rain falls on this momentous occasion, as it did last fall. This year’s headliner fits with the norm as a rap artist and the weather is expected to be warm, but rainy.
Our analysis dates back to Fall 2006, when an 18-year-old Rihanna took the stage in Quadrangle Club’s backyard. Since then, 30 additional artists have performed in a headlining capacity, with the exceptions of Spring 2021 and Spring 2020, which were canceled due to COVID-19, and Fall 2009, where there was no headliner.
Through Fall 2021, all Lawnparties performances were held in the backyard of Quadrangle Club, with the exception of Fall 2020’s virtual event. Due to construction for the new Engineering School & School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (ES & SEAS), the main performance was moved to the Frist North Lawn starting in Spring 2022. The last Lawnparties held in Quad’s backyard is remembered for its chaotic and dangerous pushing and shoving, which may be less of a concern in the larger Frist North Lawn.
Twelve of the 31 headlining acts we found were Hip-Hop/Rap artists as classified by Apple Music. Rock, R&B/Soul, Pop, and Alternative each had four artists, while three artists performed Electronic music. The genre with the longest drought is Rock — the last Rock artist to headline Lawnparties was Third Eye Blind in Fall 2012. Six of the last ten Lawnparties headliners have been Hip-Hop/Rap artists.
Who are the biggest names to have performed at Lawnparties? We looked at the number of monthly listeners each headliner has on Spotify to gauge their popularity. By this metric, Rihanna is far and away the most popular artist Princeton has hosted, with over 75 million monthly listeners — more than double each of the next two artists, Jason Derulo and Wiz Khalifa. The average number of monthly listeners Lawnparties headliners have is nearly 11.6 million — though the median is just 7.1 million, suggesting that Rihanna’s astronomical total raises the average.
The prospect of attracting higher-profile names to Lawnparties has entered the discussion surrounding a proposal by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) — which funds, plans, and organizes Lawnparties — to raise student activity fees. “We had huge names. We had like Rihanna, I think we had Maroon 5. If we did truly last look at expanding the student activities fee in 2002, it would make sense that we were able to suddenly get much larger names. That’s trickled out over time,” USG President Stephen Daniels ’24 told the USG Senate in defense of the proposal. USG Treasurer Walker Penfield ’25 likewise listed better Lawnparties acts as a potential benefit of higher student activity fees in an op-ed for the ‘Prince.’
Penfield is a staff Humor writer for the ‘Prince.’
Waka Flocka Flame last had a song on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012, 11 years ago.
Looking at the calendar, Spring Lawnparties has almost always fallen on the first Sunday of May. This pattern was broken last Spring, when it was moved to April 24, the last Sunday of April. This new trend will continue in 2023, with Waka Flocka Flame taking the stage on Sunday, April 30.
On the other hand, Fall Lawnparties usually takes place on the third Sunday of September. The COVID-19 pandemic changed this as well, as A$AP Ferg took the stage on the first Sunday of October and Hippocampus on September 11, the second Sunday of the month. Last fall’s Lawnparties was the earliest in the year Lawnparties have ever been held since at least 2006.
Weather can affect the Lawnparties experience, as students saw firsthand when Hippocampus performed amid clouds and rain last fall. Fall 2022’s Lawnparties was the first Fall Lawnparties to experience rain, as the four other Lawnparties to occur under rainclouds were Spring 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019.
Across the 30 in-person Lawnparties we examined, the average high temperature on the big day was 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This ranged from a low of 50 degrees during Spring 2016’s Lawnparties to a sweltering 91 degrees in Fall 2008. Fall Lawnparties tended to be warmer than Spring Lawnparties; the Fall average high temperature was 78 degrees, while the average was just 65 degrees for Spring Lawnparties.
Another factor in Lawnparties’ weather is the presence of strong wind gusts. The average maximum wind speed on Lawnparties is 11.5 miles per hour, ranging from the fairly still Fall 2009 and Fall 2017, where wind speeds reached a high of just six miles per hour, to the gusty Spring 2007 and Spring 2014, where wind speeds hit a high of 21 and 20 miles per hour, respectively. Last Spring’s Lawnparties had the third-highest wind speeds at 18 miles per hour.
The National Weather Service predicts a chance of rain — at the time of publication, between 30 and 60 percent — for Sunday, increasing throughout the day. The high temperature is estimated to be 69 degrees — warmer than the Spring average.
Ryan Konarska is an associate Data editor for the ‘Prince.’
Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.