PANTHERFEST creates memories, music for UWM students

Thousands of UWM students enjoyed the seventh annual PANTHERFEST on a beautiful late summer night. Photo by Peter Jakubowski

Balloons, confetti and thousands of students filled the Marcus Amphitheater on Friday, Sept. 6, for UWM’s largest annual event of the year, PANTHERFEST. Now in its seventh year, PANTHERFEST featured headliners Matt & Kim and Mac Miller on a balmy, beautiful Friday night.

The party began that afternoon with the Panther Street Festival at UWM’s iconic fountain. Students gathered to zip line, eurobugee, play yard games and sample cuisine from food trucks. From campus, festgoers were able to take shuttles to the Summerfest grounds.

First-year Peck School of the Arts student Olivia Griepentrog was among the first to arrive at the amphitheater gates.

“This is the event I’ve been looking forward to all week,” says Griepentrog. “‘I’m so excited to see Matt and Kim. We just came from the Panther Street Festival, and I was able to meet new people with the same interest in music.”

As students packed into the Marcus Amphitheater, Milwaukee DJ Poizon Ivy hyped up the crowd. Pizzle, a Milwaukee rapper, opened for the headliners.

Booking acts is hard to do

Dominique Portis served as student co-chair of PANTHERFEST’s artist selection committee, helping to book this year’s PANTHERFEST acts from the openers to the headliners. The process began this summer with a survey of the entire UWM student body. More than 11,000 students – nearly 30 percent of the total student population – responded to the PANTHERFEST entertainment survey distributed in July. Both Matt & Kim and Mac Miller scored high in the survey.

“I’ve learned a lot during this whole process,” says Portis. “I want students to know there is a lot that goes into selecting an artist. Some artists do not perform for college shows, others were booked and some were taking a short break from performing.”

Both headliners delivered. Indie-pop duo Matt & Kim immediately connected with the crowd and had everyone on their feet jumping and dancing. Mac Miller, a Pittsburgh-based hip-hop artist, took the stage wearing a Milwaukee Panthers hoodie. The crowd sang along to his beats.

“Not all schools get this,” says Portis. “PANTHERFEST is Milwaukee’s tradition and really what makes us unique from other schools.”

PANTHERFEST is the culminating event of Fall Welcome 2013, which features dozens of events for new and returning students. Check out the photos, videos and social posts to see why this is the party of the year.