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Year in review: ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium begins new role as cultural hub for campus, community

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

Sun Devil Stadium. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

A weeklong music extravaganza is about to hit Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium.  

And that's not all that's in store for the newly renovated stadium: The ASU 365 Community Union fall events series will feature concerts, dance and light shows, movies, and free yoga classes. The concert lineup features Afro-Latina singer Amara La Negra, alternative country band the Old 97’s, pop lyricist Ella Vos, indie pop rockers Best Coast and ends with the Saturday Soiréea new tradition on the stadium’s Coca-Cola Sun Deck featuring DJs, a light show and more.  

Two free Walter Yoga classes will turn the Coca-Cola Sun Deck into a fully immersive experience starting with an opening ceremony and class at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1. Participants are encouraged to wear neon and bring glow sticks to help light up the night at this next-level yoga class. 

The Walter Yoga closing ceremony and class, set for 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, will cap off the week of live events at Sun Devil Stadium with a heartfelt ceremony to seal the shared experiences. Both events are free and open to the public.

ASU also recently announced two movies screenings at Sun Devil Stadium this fall in collaboration with ASU Film Spark. Hollywood Invades Tempe will present shark thriller "The Meg" at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, as well as early Oscar contender "Sorry to Bother You," featuring a special talk by writer and director Boots Riley at 7 p.m. Nov. 14. 

Other concerts and movies are also slated for the fall. The diverse lineup is an early indication of ASU’s ambitious plans for the stadium’s future to become a dynamic and innovative hub every day of the year. 

The ASU 365 Community Union is an initiative to make nonathletic events a staple at Sun Devil Stadium, increasing stadium use from a few days a year to a 365-days-a-year operation. In addition to the regularly scheduled football games, Sun Devil Stadium will now be home to concerts, food festivals, movies, yoga classes and cultural festivals. 

“We want to create a place where you can imagine Sun Devils of all ages starting their day with yoga on the Coca-Cola Sun Deck or a breakfast meeting at a café and ending their day with a film festival or concert under the stars,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president of cultural affairs.

ASU’s ultimate vision is to bring the surrounding public together more frequently to maximize the community impact of Sun Devil Stadium as a convenient and versatile venue. The 365 Community Union hopes to set a trend for stadiums worldwide by offering entertainment outlets for youth, film fanatics, runners, bookworms, foodies, families and sports fans alike. 

“We have a really exciting year ahead with a wide variety of events that will be taking place at Sun Devil Stadium and we’re so excited about kicking things off with these amazing artists,” Jennings-Roggensack said. “We’ll be announcing more events soon and looking to move to 365-days-a-year operation starting in September 2019.” 

Tickets for all events are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com. More information at asu365communityunion.com.

Concerts

Amara La Negra with special guest Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra

8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2

Amara La Negra is a Miami native and Afro-Latina singer who captivates with a fusion of her unique culture and pop rhythms. Some of the singer’s most popular hits include “What a Bam Bam” and “Se Que Soy.”  

La Negra is no stranger to the entertainment industry. After winning a talent competition in preschool, she subsequently starred on a Hispanic variety show for six years. Now, she stars on the reality show "Love & Hip Hop: Miami." 

The singer is outspoken about the racism and colorism that exists in the entertainment industry and has faced criticism throughout her career regarding her appearance, which she has learned to embrace. La Negra hopes her presence as a successful Afro-Latina in the music industry will inspires others with similar dreams to do the same. 

Amara will be accompanied by special guest Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, an ambitious and funky fusion of eclectic local musicians and traditional Afrobeat style.

Old 97’s with special guest Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights

8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3

The Dallas-based alternative country band formed in 1993 and has continued to create new music ever since, sticking to their Texas roots along the way. They chose to situate themselves in the remote border town of Tornillo, Texas, instead of recording in more traditional music-centric cities like Los Angeles or New York City.

Their music combines soothing, expressive lyrics with rock beats and an authentic country flair. 

The Old 97’s made their debut with their album "Hitchhike to Rhome" (1994), a reference to Rhome, Texas. Since then, the band has released 10 more studio albums, most recently "Graveyard Whistling" (2017). Their album "Most Messed Up" (2014) reached a high at No. 30 on the Billboard Top 200. 

The Old 97’s will perform alongside rock band Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, also formed in Dallas.

Some notable appearances of the Northern Lights’ music include their hit “Pardon Me” in the premiere of the popular NBC series "Friday Night Lights." Additionally, their rendition of “Sugar, Sugar” served as a replacement theme for the original TLC show "Cake Boss" in 2011. 

Ella Vos with special guest Molly Kate Kestner

8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4

Bubbly yet insightful. Dreamy yet perceptive.

Ella Vos pushes boundaries with deeply sentimental and honest lyrics coupled with a unique and captivating modern sound. 

The Los Angeles native is fairly new to the music scene and released her single “White Noise” in 2016, followed by her first album release "Words I Never Said" (2017). Nevertheless, she experienced viral success with “White Noise,” reaching No. 1 on Spotify’s viral chart. 

Much of her music was inspired during her pregnancy, which was ultimately her motivation to pursue a solo career. In her songs, she often touches on the topic of women’s choice while also confronting other personal subjects she once let remain silent.

Ella Vos’ stage name, which in Spanish translates to “She You,” is a reference to her intention of having her music be a relationship with not only her, but her audience as well. 

Similar to Ella Vos, Molly Kate Kestner has also seen viral success. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Minnesota earned 1.5 million views on YouTube within two weeks of her posting a passionate ballad she wrote in high school, “His Daughter.” 

It was this hit that landed her on Good Morning America in 2014 and propelled her to continue writing and performing. Kestner was also a contributing songwriter on Kelly Clarkson’s album "Meaning of Life" (2017).

Best Coast with special guest Buzzy Lee

8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5

Best Coast creates music to ascertain, once and for all, that the West Coast really is the best coast. 

The Los Angeles duo — which consists of singer, songwriter and guitarist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno — creates sparkly and sophisticated indie pop and rock music that emphasizes the highs and lows of relationships.

Yet, their lyrics also highlight the juxtaposition between light and dark in California itself, from the bright bubblegum-colored days to calm, lonely nights.

While on their surface their music is reminiscent of the stereotypical SoCal lifestyle, there is an underlying darkness to their sound that represents the ever-present desperation of the Golden State — especially in their third and latest album, "California Nights" (2015). 

Best Coast’s performance will be supplemented by actress and singer Sasha Spielberg, whose latest album "Facepaint" (2018) features a synthetic pop sound. This is her first solo release under her new stage name, Buzzy Lee. Buzzy Lee is the daughter of legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, and has appeared in two of his films, "The Post" (2017) and "Munich" (2005).

Saturday Soirée featuring Walter Productions

8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6

The new Sun Devil Stadium tradition transforms the  Coca-Cola Sun Deck into a wonderland of sound, light, fire, dancing and more.

Open Mike Eagle 

8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13

Michael Eagle II, otherwise known as Open Mike Eagle, is a college RA turned MC from Chicago. 

After moving to the West Coast for graduate school, he recorded his first album, "Unapologetic Art Rap" with Mush Records in 2010. 

He went on to record two more albums in the next two years before releasing "Dark Comedy" (2014), "Hella Personal Film Festival" (2016) and most recently "Brick Body Kids Still Daydream" (2017) with the Mello Music Group. 

His song “Ziggy Starfish (Anxiety Raps)” featuring Gold Panda has over 4 million listens on Spotify. 

Yoga

Opening Ceremony and Walter Yoga Class 

7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1

Walter Yoga will be turning the Coca-Cola Sun Deck into a fully immersive experience of love, light, and lasers. Join us for a one-of-a kind celebration that will set intention for the opening week of 365 events at Sun Devil Stadium. This event is free. 

Closing Ceremony and Walter Yoga Class

10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7

The week of incredible live events closes with a heartfelt yoga class and ceremony to seal the experience. Start the day feeling grounded and abundant and take all the positive energy that was cultivated throughout the week and incorporate it into your life to create a stronger and supportive community. 

The gathering will begin with complimentary face painting.

Movies on the field

'The Meg' (2018)

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27

'Sorry to Bother You' (2018)

7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14

With special guest writer and director Boots Riley.

acwolfe4@asu.edu