As seven o’clock drew closer Saturday evening, BC students trickled in through the illuminated archways on Stokes Lawn and gathered for the third annual outdoor fall concert. Concertgoers took photos, chatted, and snacked by the nacho tent (nicely done, CAB), and it was clear that Stokes Set was exactly what was needed after a draining academic week. As the sun set, rainbow lights were projected onto the surrounding buildings, creating an enchanting backdrop for the main event, Grammy-award-winning artist Daya.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, the singer-songwriter was born Grace Tandon and goes by the stage name Daya, or “grace” in Hindi, as a tribute to her Indian grandfather. The artist first rose to fame in 2015 after the debut of her hit song “Hide Away,” which she wrote as a junior in high school. Since then, Daya has toured nationwide, and five of her songs have made it onto the Billboard Hot 100, including her collaboration with The Chainsmokers, “Don’t Let Me Down,” which peaked at #1.
When the screen on the Stokes Set stage suddenly flashed “DAYA” in bold white letters, the pop singer took the stage and kicked off her set with “Dare,” a synthy upbeat song off of her latest album. Afterwards, Daya took a moment to greet the crowd and signal to the scenic view of Gasson in front of her.
“This is one of the prettiest campuses I’ve ever seen,” said the 19-year-old singer. “I didn’t go to college, but if I did, I’d probably go here.”
From her dulcet tones to her suave dance moves, Daya’s stage presence captivated the audience from start to finish. Even the singer’s lesser known songs were met with explosive energy, which Daya herself took notice of, commenting that “for a Catholic school, [BC students] are pretty rowdy!”
The concert took on a more serious, reflective tone when Daya introduced her most recent single “Safe,” which she wrote in response to the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas almost a year ago. “It happened at a concert, just like this one, where people should be having fun and celebrating life and music and love, and [the attacker] tried to take that away from people,” she said. “I wrote this song for those victims and their families.”
A feminist undercurrent was apparent in many of Daya’s songs, relating to themes of women’s empowerment and rejection of traditional gender norms. “Back to Me,” one of the slower songs of the evening, is about leaving a toxic relationship, and “I Wanna Know,” touches on the importance of being valued and treated with respect. In her hit song “Sit Still, Look Pretty,” Daya addresses unfair expectations on how women should present themselves. “This one's for all the fearless independent girls out there, who don’t need anyone to be happy besides themselves,” Daya emphasized as she introduced the song. “A.K.A. everyone here.”
And of course, the night came to an end with “Don’t Let Me Down.” The crowd was thrilled, jumping up and down and singing along breathlessly. It was the song everyone was waiting for, and it was the perfect note on which to wrap Stokes Set's electric third iteration.