UTOPIA: Who, what, when, where and why you needed to be there

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This past Sunday, June 30 marked the last day of Pride Month; and the month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the progress it has made certainly ended on a high. The legendary NYC Pride March took place, beginning at 12 p.m. and stretching late into the evening, making it the biggest LGBTQ+ pride parade in the world. The celebration didn’t stop with the parade but continued into the night with UTOPIA, the closing party that resembled something out of a dream, making the event live up to its name.

UTOPIA was produced by Jake Resnicow and wrapped up the Pride 2019 Festival, the biggest Pride music festival in history. An event as legendary as this one certainly had a lot to live up to, but there’s no doubt that UTOPIA met the highest of expectations and then some. Here’s the breakdown of who, what, when, where and why UTOPIA was the essential Pride event of the season.

Who? 

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Kygo was the main headliner of the night, but he certainly wasn’t the only source of entertainment. UTOPIA featured a lineup of multiple artists and DJs, all of whom put on an incredible performance for the last day of Pride.

DJ Leomeo was the one working the crowd for the majority of the beginning of the event, playing a range of music from remixes of popular songs to house music in order to keep the audience excited. Interspersed between Leomeo’s set were performances from other artists on the lineup, such as Kiiara and JHart, who each performed a few songs.

Both Kiiara and JHart were able to command the stage and audience despite the cavernous venue. The crowd reacted especially well when Kiiara played her hit song “Gold” (queue it up on Spotify, you’ll recognize it) and when JHart did of a fun cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”

The real star of the show, of course, was Kygo. The legendary Norwegian DJ began his set at the piano, which rose high into the air as the riser elevated; it’s clear that the producer knows how to make an entrance. A Cirque du Soleil acrobat then came down from the ceiling on an aerial hoop, performing a complicated routine as Kygo accompanied him after switching out his piano for his DJ equipment.

From there, the party was only just getting started. Kygo had an incredible energy, switching from his popular radio hits like “It Ain’t Me” (with Selena Gomez) and “Happy Now” (with Sandro Cavazza) to remixes of old classics like “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire to true house music.

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Kygo also brought out some guests of his own. Justin Jesso came out to sing his vocals on “Stargazing” and Parson James made an appearance for “Stole the Show,” both providing an added layer of energy and rawness to the performance.

Toward the end of his set, an entire strings section came out to play alongside Kygo. This orchestra was composed entirely of women, each wearing a different-colored dress so that together they made up the rainbow that adorns the Pride flag. 

The combination of the live orchestra and Kygo on both the piano and DJ set was truly a performance to behold. Conrad Sewell then joined Kygo and the orchestra on stage to provide the vocals to the track “Firestone.”

Kygo ended his set by playing “Higher Love,” his just-released track featuring Whitney Houston’s vocals. The energetic beat and sing-along lyrics were the perfect way to end an incredibly positive and entertaining set.

It’s clear to me now why Kygo sold out Barclays Center in May 2018, the last time he performed in New York. If you ever have the chance to see Kygo live, I would not miss out.

What?

UTOPIA marked the closing party of the Pride Festival 2019, the world’s largest and most ambitious Pride music festival. The event, along with all the others that took place during Pride Festival 2019, was produced by promoter mastermind Jake Resnicow.

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“It’s always been a dream to bring the EDM music festival experience,” Resnicow said about UTOPIA. “Kygo is one of the most exciting DJs today, selling out stadiums across the globe and for the first time, bringing his magic to Pride.”

When?

UTOPIA began at 8 p.m. on Sunday June 30 and lasted well into the night, with Kygo playing his final encore around 12:45 a.m. Kygo himself didn’t come on until 11 p.m., providing a full three hours for the other musical artists and DJs while still playing a nearly two hour set himself.

Where?

UTOPIA took place at the Javits Center, the huge 1.8 million square foot convention center located in the heart of Manhattan. The venue spans the entire city blocks between 34th and 40th Streets, and its grandeur and prestige could certainly be felt during the event.

The space where the performances were held was a cavernous, industrial-style area. While the entire concert was General Admission, there was a separate area in front of the stage for VIP ticket holders as well as an elevated viewing platform for Ultra VIP concertgoers.

In addition to food and drink vendors, the venue had picture-perfect areas to please even the highest of aesthetic Instagram expectations. Sculptures of neon bottles were planted throughout the back of the venue, as well as mural walls with pictures and scenes from LGBTQ celebrations and marches of the past. There was even a mock red carpet set up so one could live out one’s fantasy of being a celebrity for the night. 

Why?

So, what made UTOPIA the place to be to end Pride Month? It was the overwhelmingly positive and supportive energy between the artists and the crowd, in addition to the truly fun and energetic environment, that set UTOPIA apart from any typical concert.

While the performances themselves were incredible, you never forgot the real reason everyone was gathered there that night: to celebrate Pride, and, in an even more general sense, the importance and beauty in being true to oneself. And that, of course, is something that deserves to be celebrated year-round.

All images provided by UTOPIA Team.


Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucie.turkel@uconn.edu.