Morro Bay’s first ever outdoor Hip-Hop concert, featuring headliners Sean Kingston and Shwayze, rocked the Embarcadero on Sunday.
The event, billed as the first annual Back to Skool Orientation concert, took place in the parking lot at 714 Embarcadero Blvd. and shut down half of the Boulevard in front of the event.
The expected crowd turn out was between 2,500 and 3,000 people. While doors officially opened at noon, the line of expectant fans started arriving around 7 a.m. and stretched around the corner up Pacific Street. By 2 p.m., approximately 600 people crowded the stage, many of them waving their hands to the beat. Among the concert goers, groups of children ran around chairs and dodged adults while some of their parents watched from the enclosed bar area.
Despite being an event for all ages, there was a marked security presence and a detail of police officers on hand. While Morro Bay is no stranger to large events, the nature of this one, meant to bring Cal Poly and Cuesta students to Morro Bay makes it important to get right the first time.
No one is more aware of this than event organizers Reza Akavain, Jason Neubauer and Hamei Hamedi of Obsession Entertainment. The three Cal Poly students are respectively, president, vice president and marketing director of the company that is fast gaining a local reputation for excellence in event planning.
“Pretty much, one summer when I was president of our fraternity and Reza was treasurer, we came up with the idea that we should start packaging together all of the Greek events,” Neubauer said.
“Everything had just been leading to off-site venues because all the houses were becoming such a liability. We came up with the ideas of, ‘Why not set up contracts with all the vendors, all the venues, transportation and you know, have our own security and DJs.’ That way businesses respect another business coming at them to do Greek events.”
By setting up a unified front for campus fraternities, the entrepreneurs gained valuable experience in event organizing, after planning all of Cal Poly’s Greek events last year.
“The whole mission of the company,when we started was to save (fraternities and clubs) time and money,” Akavain said. “So you make one phone call and we’re the middle man. We take care of everything for them and we can get it for cheaper because we already have contacts with all these venues and transportation companies, everything.”
After dealing with event planning for clubs, the company, joined by Hamedi who graduated Cal Poly with a degree in electrical engineering, started concert planning, bringing in sponsors and going after big name artists that aren’t often seen on the Central Coast.
“You go out there and you go get them and you have to argue prices,” Neubauer said. “It’s like a game; you try to get the artist before they get too big so you don’t pay as much. Shwayze we found before anybody knew him. I just had an inkling that he was going to blow up because of his MTV show and now he got pretty famous, so that’s good for us.”
Despite the strain of attending school and running a company simultaneously, the founders have collected their share of interesting stories, such as breaking down in Paso Robles with the artist E40 on April Fool’s day while driving him to their first major concert.
They have also gained respect in the field. The MC for Sunday’s concert, JoJo Lopez of the local radio station 106.1, called them “the cream of the crop”.
“These guys always deliver the big names,” Lopez said. A lot of times people will advertise and you’re like, ‘Ya right, that sounds to good to be true, why would they come here?’, but these guys go and get the acts. They find names that otherwise we’d never see here,”
Local law enforcement also appreciate their planning experise.
“They’re very professional to work with,” Commander Tim Olivas of the Morro Bay Police Department said.
“You can tell Reza’s done this before. He’s got everything running smoothly. We’ve never had this type of event before, but there’s certain things to expect anytime large groups get together.”