Updated Fri, Apr 12, 2013 1:37 pm
It's springtime in Athens, Ohio, and for thousands of OU students, that means one thing: Number Fest.
Started almost a decade ago by Dominic Petrozzi and his friends as a last hurrah before graduation, Number Fest (or "#Fest") has now grown into what Petrozzi describes as, "the premier college music festival experience."
"It’s exciting for us to bring Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki to Athens for these kids," said Petrozzi. "The students are major fans. And it’s our goal to provide an opportunity for college students who wouldn't necessarily have a chance to see some of these big acts at a price point they can handle."
As featured performers in last fall’s BET "Music Matters" Tour, as well as having performed in Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival, Columbus' Fly Union will return to Athens for their second Number Fest performance.
"For us, it’s important to travel and to touch the people," said Jerreau of Fly Union. "You’re going to find yourself returning to places that you’ve been before. It’s always important to come back and revisit fans that have seen us and make new fans of those who haven’t had the chance to check us out."
For Cincinnati rapper Santino Corleon, this year’s Number Fest--his fifth-- is starting to become a tradition.
"Every year is like our homecoming," said Santino. " Number Fest is everything to us."
"Honest," is how Santino describes his music, and while he likes to have a good time, he's a music fan, first and foremost.
"I put one-thousand percent into my performances," he said. "When I was younger, I was a class clown and always performing...you give me an audience, I’m there."
Another group featured in this year's lineup is Bad Rabbits from Boston, Mass. The band's culturally diverse backgrounds--Indian, Argentinian, Ghanian, Liberian and American--combined with their equally diverse music tastes, creates what guitarist Santiago Araujo calls "The American Dream."
"Sexy," "smooth" and "soulful" are some of the words that have been used to describe Bad Rabbits' sound. Recent shows have included opening slots for Slick Rick, Mos Def and Wu Tang Clan, as well as a performance during the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Weekend at the Inaugural Youth Ball.
"We’re unique in the fact that we’re able to play in front of such diverse crowds," said Araujo. "We can cross into different scenes and be accepted."
This year will be the first Number Fest for Bad Rabbits and Araujo said they're excited to play.
"We’re very excited to come back to Ohio. There’s a really good music vibe there."
In addition to their debut album release on May 14, Bad Rabbits will make their national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live on May 17.
Petrozzi said this year’s line up, shows the evolution of the event."
"We’ve gone from a mom and pop event to a massively backed, well-connected music festival and we'll continue to provide the best entertainment possible."
Though fun and excitement are expected from the fest, Petrozzi said crowd safety is his main priority.
"Our goal every year is to make sure that anybody who comes out to the event gets home safe," he said.
Petrozzi added that several precautions are taken to ensure safety, including a free shuttle bus service, law enforcement, first aid and a zero-tolerance policy.
After nearly a decade of organizing Number Fest, Petrozzi is still looking ahead, and the sky seems to be the limit.
"My vision for the future of Number Fest is to become the largest music festival in the state, region and Midwest," he said. "Athens is a place I hold near and dear to my heart and we want to continue to create a once-in-a-lifetime music festival experience in the state of Ohio."
Number Fest will take place this Saturday, April 13. Visit www.thenumberfest.com for a complete schedule.