Memorial Glade goes cuckoo for Cuco, No Vacation at Cal Day concert

Abraham Recio / Cuco /Courtesy

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At the blazing hot hour of 4 p.m., in the final moments of Cal Day, ASUC SUPERB could be seen on the steps of Doe Memorial Library, doing last-minute mic checks and positioning speakers as Berkeley students trickled in from sloppy, fraternity-held celebrations.

This year’s performers, No Vacation and Cuco, graced Berkeley with their dreamy, summer vibes. As joints were passed hand to hand, students in faded blue and gold face tattoos and clad in a vast amalgamation of Cal gear found themselves swaying to the lo-fi beats. No Vacation and Cuco provided a pitch-perfect end to a notoriously high-energy day, as potential students and Cal Day partiers alike unwinded in the tranquil evening.

At exactly 4:01 p.m., lead singer Sabrina Mai of No Vacation approached the mic, greeted by wild cheers from the packed Memorial Glade. No Vacation’s appearance at the university-celebrating day was fitting — the San Francisco-based, indie-based rock band first met in college and formed its style in a college dorm room.

No Vacation opened with its 2015 album’s standout track, “Lovefool.” With heartfelt lyrics like, “These thoughts I can’t articulate / Got me feelin’ some type of way,” the song reminisces on the feelings of love — a reality that’s not too distant for angsty college kids dealing with their own troubles, relationships and growth.

The band closed out its relaxing set with “Yam Yam,” a single off of its latest album Intermission. The soft guitar lines, paralleled against the deep echo of the bass, yielded a groovy, spellbinding ambiance. Mai’s flawless vocals and endearing lyrics provided a sense of comfort as old and new friends swayed to the fresh beats.

The long-awaited performance of the day, Cuco’s headlining set, started with the artist’s exclamation, “Let’s see how much fun we can have here!” The rowdy cheers of the audience augmented to the extent that the singer barely managed to get another word in before launching into his set.

Hailing from Hawthorne, California, the teenage heartthrob opened the show with the single “Lonelylife” off his 2016 album Wannabewithu. The tender lyrics evoked a sense of longing for that special someone, manifested by the crowd as couples and friends alike danced in pairs under the hot, afternoon sun. The audience sang along to almost every word, making the packed crowd feel more like a united community.

During the performance of his hit single “Lo Que Siento,” the audience went into a frenzy. After the song’s release in 2017, Cuco gained immediate attention, hitting 2.7 million plays on Soundcloud and opening for Colombian-born R&B singer, Kali Uchis. As he pulled out his trumpet and played along in the final minute of the song, the fans’ energy became palpable, with one pair of fans even waving around a sack of bananas and offering it to the singer.

Cuco’s most recent release and set closer, “CR-V,” energized fans to dance. While his calming sounds are more aimed towards grooving, head-bobbing audiences, the crowd still maintained a lively atmosphere, even carrying crowd surfers over a wave of hands.

The artist delivered a wholly electrifying show — but given Cuco’s rising success, this was to be expected. His vocals, tempo and tone all melded together to form the dictionary definition of dream pop. The crowd was left wanting more, as fans crowded around the metal barricade afterwards, asking for pictures and shouting for an encore.

For the Golden Bears that came out of hibernation, Cuco and No Vacation provided excellent sets to kick back to after a long, chaotic Cal Day.

Contact Preya Gill at [email protected].