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Jack Harlow kicks off the new semester at ASU's InfernoFest 2021

The concert marked one of the first large University-sanctioned student events to be offered in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Jack Harlow performs his song "Whats Poppin" in a crowd of ASU students at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on Aug. 17, 2021.


Skyrocketing rap sensation Jack Harlow headlined InfernoFest, ASU’s annual fall semester concert hosted by the Programming and Activities Board, to a nearly half-filled Sun Devil Stadium Tuesday.

As one of the first large University-sanctioned student events to be offered in person since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the concert set a tone for the rest of the school year – a cautious return to familiarity. 

The Kentucky-born artist is most recognizable for his viral TikTok songs "Whats Poppin" and "Already Best Friends," as well as his feature on "Industry Baby" with rapper Lil Nas X.

Aaron Stigile, a freshman studying public policy, was already a fan of Harlow and was surprised to see ASU hosting an artist as big as him. More than the concert, however, he was looking forward to getting to know his classmates and attending campus events. 

After a year of virtual education, as well as being an out-of-state student, Stigile said, "It'll be good to go with some friends of mine, just to have some different experiences," and that "just being able to meet more people and do that sort of thing is pretty exciting."

As opposed to last year’s purely virtual InfernoFest, headlined by Charlie Puth, this year’s event operated in person. Face masks were provided to students upon entering the stadium, though many in the crowd declined to wear them.

Admission was free for ASU students with a valid Sun Card. For those who chose to stay at home, the event could be attended virtually with a livestream link.

Nolan Featherstun, a junior studying industrial design, said he was excited for InfernoFest – his first ASU event. Despite being in his third year, he chose not to attend campus events freshman year since he "didn’t feel adventurous enough," and his second year was completely virtual due to the pandemic. 

Harlow performed a half-hour-long set, featuring some of his hit songs along with his lesser-known tracks. On multiple occasions, Harlow came to the crowd, gave high fives and received a couple of friendship bracelets from students who threw them at him.

Although not an avid fan of Harlow's, Featherstun's personal highlight was when Harlow performed "SUVs". "I was psyched to hear the one song of his I actually knew," he said.

Harlow also performed his verses within songs from other artists, including "Tap In" by Saweetie and his aforementioned part in "Industry Baby".

After the concert, Francesca Maglalang, a freshman majoring in nursing, said she enjoyed experiencing Sun Devil Welcome and InfernoFest together.

"I'm coming into ASU for the first time, I thought it was really cool they brought someone out to come hype up the crowd," she said in reflection of a full school year with COVID-19 restrictions. "It was a really nice way to get back into it."

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