‘She’s literally mothering right now’: Carly Rae Jepsen blasts confetti at PPC’s Bigelow Bash, students let loose


Ethan Shulman | Senior Staff Photographer

Carly Rae Jepsen performs during Bigelow Bash on Bigelow Boulevard.

By Tanya Babbar, Staff Writer

Students jumped at the sound of cannons blasting red confetti and smoke into the air when Carly Rae Jepsen hit the beat drop before the chorus of her song, “Run Away with Me.” After emerging from a rose-gold glitter curtain wearing black leather pants, Jepsen asked students to dance with her under retro flashing lights, multi-colored confetti cannons and blasts of smoke.

“She’s literally mothering right now. She was literally looking at everyone on stage. She was so interactive,” said Cameron Tilson, an undeclared first-year in the crowd. 

Pitt Program Council (PPC) hosted its annual Bigelow Bash on Sunday afternoon. The event featured live music from student bands, dance groups and a performance by Jepsen.

Jepsen leaned on the nostalgic fun of her well-known 2010s pop reputation and played “Call Me Maybe,” a crowd favorite. Jespen also performed songs from her 2022 album “The Loneliest Time,” giving the audience a fresh look at the singer’s diverse musical influences. 

Students dance during Carly Rae Jepsen’s performance during Bigelow Bash on Bigelow Boulevard. (Ethan Shulman | Senior Staff Photographer)

Kittrick Danzeisen, a sophomore computational biology major and self-proclaimed Jepsen fan, said he is impressed by Jepsen’s more recent pop creations.

“I was looking at the comments of the post that PPC made, and some people were like, ‘Is this a joke?’ and they were shitting on her,” he said. “Even though Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t super popular, she’s a great artist. 

“She’s classic and she brings a new sort of soul-funk to pop,” Danzeisan added. “I think people associate her with ‘Call Me Maybe’ and that cheesy 2000s vibe, but first of all, that’s good and second, she changes her music a lot.”

For Elizabeth Young, a PPC advertising committee member, seeing the joy students experienced at Bigelow Bash was one of the best parts of her job.
“It’s an honor to host events for students,” Young said. “I love looking into the crowd and being like, ‘I helped create this.’” 

Regardless of students’ varying investment in Jepsen, Yosef Nelson, a junior history major, believes that Jepsen’s flamboyant and exciting stage presence offered the entire audience a chance to come together and have fun dancing to her music. 

“I was a little worried that a lot of people wouldn’t be into her because they only know her from ‘Call Me Maybe,’ but as someone who has been following her career, I was super impressed by her performance,” Nelson said. “It felt like people who weren’t even that excited to see her were still excited to be seeing her. She did a really great job at keeping the energy up and the audience engaged.”

As was the case with Jepsen’s performance, Pitt students also found a way to vibe with a varied line-up of exciting opening acts, including student jazz-rock band Clay Coast, student hip-hop ensemble Controlled Chaos, and the WPTS performer — indie bedroom-pop artist Claud.

Musical act Claud opens for Carly Rae Jepsen during Bigelow Bash on Bigelow Boulevard.
(Ethan Shulman | Senior Staff Photographer)

Dom Brazzle, the alternate bassist from Clay Coast and a sophomore chemistry major, appreciates the opportunity Bigelow Bash gave him to play for a large audience. He also said he enjoyed having fun along with other Pitt students, who have begun to dub the band, “Slay Coast.”

“It’s pretty good because it’s also my relaxation and break — I have fun up there,” Brazzle said. “I heard people call us ‘Slay Coast.’ We call ourselves that sometimes, and I think it’s pretty funny. To feel ‘Slay Coast’ is to feel awesome.” 

With music Claud described to the audience as “gay little songs,” Samantha Kirschman, a senior English writing major, said they struck a chord with students in the audience who are passionate about the LGBTQ+ community on Pitt’s campus.

“I think Claud feels very sweet, gay and supportive of our community, which is necessary considering the transphobic speakers coming to Pitt this spring,” Kirschman said. “Carly Rae Jepsen is big in the queer community because of that diva-image. Her slay level is beyond comprehensible because of the pop image of perfection she has.”

No matter what the audience prefers in terms of music, Danzeisen said he appreciated Bigelow Bash as a beacon of Pittsburgh’s diverse and welcoming music and concert community. 

“Having a free concert on campus like this and having such an open music and concert community is great,” Danzeisen said. “Everyone knows who Carly Rae Jepsen is, even if they’re not a fan — she brings everyone together.”