UCF Homecoming Concert Knight draws thousands to CFE Arena

A crowd of more than 6,000 people enjoying Martin Garrix’s performance. UCF Homecoming Concert Knight, Oct. 12, 2017. Photo by Lauren Harms.

Thousands of people crowded the CFE Arena Thursday night for UCF Homecoming’s annual Concert Knight.

The event began at 8 p.m. with R&B singer Jacquees opening the concert and performing for about thirty minutes before leaving the stage to headliner Martin Garrix, who performed until 10:30 p.m.

UCF students were able to get free tickets on select days leading up to the concert, and all 6,000 complimentary tickets were distributed, Eliana Benevento, the executive director of the Homecoming Executive Board, said.

UCF student Judith Mandujano said she picked up her ticket immediately.

It was her first Homecoming concert and she couldn’t wait to see Garrix perform, she said.

“This was the first time I’ve been to a Martin Garrix concert, and it was amazing,” Mandujano, 18, said.

Colorful strobe lights and lasers danced across the crowd during Garrix’s performance, the staccato hues washing over Mandujano and the crowd in time with the beat.

“My favorite part would have to be those sick drops he [Garrix] would do. I would start jumping and get all hyped up. It was just a lot of fun to be there and getting to experience that,” Mandujano said.

The event, titled Concert Knight, was coordinated by the Concert Knight Director Sari Misek, the Homecoming Executive Board, volunteers and the UCF Police Department.

Students such as Danielle D’Alessio, 21, had mixed reactions to this year’s concert.

D’Alessio, a UCF senior and game design major, attended UCF’s Homecoming concerts for the past three years and felt some were better than others, she said.

“I loved last year’s, Ludacris was a lot of fun, and I was on the floor for that one,” D’Alessio said.

But others such as UCF marketing student Taylor Horan enjoyed the concert.

“The energy of the crowd was fantastic,” Horan said. “During the break between the opening act and the headliner, the whole arena started doing the wave and even the floor was a part of it.

“Everyone seemed really happy to be there, which made the concert even better.”

On top of that, security for the Homecoming concert was a top priority for the UCF Police Department, Amanda Sellers, the public safety communications coordinator for UCF PD said.

“We work closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies to continuously review and implement security and safety measures designed to safeguard guests attending our venue,” Brian Hixenbaugh, general manager of the CFE Arena, said.

Horan thought some were worried about security due to recent events such as the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas at a country music festival.

“I think Las Vegas put people on edge, and so some places increased security for events,” Horan, 19, said.

However, parking and security measures at the concert were standard, UCF PD Commander of Investigations James Mangan said.

Concertgoers waiting in line outside the CFE Arena. UCF Homecoming Concert Knight, Oct. 12, 2017. Photo by Lauren Harms.

Typical safety precautions such as searching bags and walking through metal detectors before entering the venue were practiced. 

“I thought the security was good though,” Horan said. “I think I saw more security and event staff around the stands than previous concerts.”

The number of police officers at a UCF event is determined by the expected crowd size, Mangan said.

There were 20 officers and one commander working security at the concert, he said.

“It’s important for students to know that safety is UCF’s priority and that there is a well-equipped, well-trained police department on campus that serves the UCF community,” Sellers said.

The CFE Arena also has a contract with Contemporary Services Corporation, a company that supplies private security, Valentina Rodriguez, the marketing manager at the CFE Arena, said.

Jacquees and Garrix performed songs such as “Animals,” “In the Name of Love” and “Scared to be Lonely” while the crowds’ screaming faces were illuminated by glow sticks and bracelets wherever strips of darkness fell during the show.

Though D’Alessio said she didn’t really know his music, she still looked forward to the performance.

“It’s my last year, and I wanted to enjoy my last concert as a college student.”