SDSU students to open at GreenFest concert

by Bridget Chapman

Their friendship sparked through expressing their love for music on the “San Diego State Univer- sity Class of 2015” Facebook page.

Two years later, pre-nursing sophomore Brandon Pierce and communication sophomore Ryan Smith are the musicians chosen to open for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the GreenFest concert.

Music has always been a heavy influence in both men’s lives. Pierce’s parents met in high school choir and inspired him to pursue the art of singing before he could fully talk. Despite his lack of formal training, Pierce was raised to be a singer. His family performed together in church and he was an avid singer throughout high school.

Smith’s musical journey began in high school, where he admired his youth minister who played guitar. Smith says he remembers his best friend thinking he was “the coolest guy” because of his talent. At 15 years old, Smith decided to learn how to play the guitar by watching YouTube tutorials. He was a part of a band in high school and also played for his church.

Both Pierce and Smith wanted to continue making music in college and were happy to find each other via the Facebook page. They ended up living on the same floor in the residence halls, where they practiced playing freshman year. Smith’s fraternity chapter house became their designated practice area as time went by. They’ve performed at different SDSU Cultural Arts and Special Events as well as Greek events, but never imagined they’d take part in a concert such as GreenFest.

“It’s always been such a dream that I was looking at, something that’d be cool, but I never thought it’d happen,” Pierce said.

When they saw there was a competition to open for the GreenFest concert, Smith and Pierce compiled and submitted a video. They were ecstatic to hear they made it to the next round of the artist showcase in February.

Each performance was 15 minutes and was “American Idol” style with audience members texting in their votes. Both of their fraternities and Smith’s parents were in the audience to show support. Pierce and Smith covered songs from Alex Clare, Justin Bieber, OneRepublic, Train and Jason Mraz.

When they won the contest, Pierce said they were both in disbelief that they would take part in such a large performance.

“I’m a very passionate person and the fact that my passion for singing was recognized and I get to do something so big with it is literally mind-blowing for me,” Pierce said.

Smith and Pierce have different tastes in music but are both big fans of Macklemore. They were even originally going to do a cover of “Thrift Shop” for the artist showcase. Smith said he’s specifically a big fan of the song “Wings” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

On the night of the concert, Pierce and Smith perform at 7 p.m. at the Open Air Theatre. They’re planning on performing seven covers and two original songs.

Pierce said they brought on a band to complete their sound because he didn’t think an acoustic duo would keep the audience’s attention for their performance. One of the other artists who also competed at the showcase,

Julianne Manalo, will join Pierce and Smith for two of their songs. Following their performance, Pierce and Smith will join their friends and family in the crowd to enjoy the rest of the show.

“The amount of things that have stemmed from this are more than we could’ve even imagined,” Smith said.

Smith and Pierce said they picked up sponsorship from a record label, Electric Lime Records. Their first single, “Light up the Night,” will be released the night of the concert.

Pierce said the reality of it all hasn’t completely set in. He said he doesn’t get nervous when performing, but hopes everything goes smoothly before the concert and that he’s focusing on getting enough sleep and being careful with his voice. He said he’s beyond stoked for the actual performance and thinks it’s going to be complete insanity when the time comes.

Smith said he’s excited about the show because it’s a good leap forward for him to pursue music. He said he’s feeling nervous because it’s the longest set the duo has ever done. But he said they’ll pull through in the end.

“If we have to, we’ll be up until 2 a.m. every night practicing,” Smith said.