Last year’s End of Year Bash at Utah State University ended before it had even begun when artist Charlie Puth cancelled his scheduled performance.
Puth said he was “really upset and sad” to be unable to make it. At the time, he not only cancelled his USU performance, but all others that week.
But Puth fulfilled his commitment Friday with a performance at a concert in celebration of homecoming week at USU.
“I made a promise that I would come back,” Puth said, “and here I am.”
Puth’s Utah State performance marked the unofficial kickoff of his “Don’t Talk” tour, which begins Monday in Dallas.
The performance featured all of Puth’s tour equipment, said event coordinator Felicia Gallegos, which would not have been the case had he performed at End of Year Bash as originally intended.
“We’re getting the full show,” Gallegos said. “It’s a unique opportunity to have for $1.”
Gallegos said when the student association originally contacted Puth, “he wasn’t huge yet,” so he was in the school’s price range at the time. After his song “We Don’t Talk Anymore” gained popularity this summer, Puth’s booking price skyrocketed.
Had Puth been as popular when the student association was looking for End of Year Bash performers last year, they “probably wouldn’t have reached out to him,” Gallegos said, “just because he’s out of our price range now.”
Puth’s management chose to honor his original contact, however, so the university got a big bang for its buck.
“I was just super excited when I saw that he was coming back,” said Rachel Israelsen, a student who attended the event. “I needed to get a ticket right away.”
Puth performed his better-known songs, including “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” “One Call Away” and his debut single, “Marvin Gaye.”
He also performed a new song, “Does He Feel?” live for the first time.
“I don’t usually do that,” Puth said, explaining that he felt performing at a university gave him more creative freedom to take risks.
“This is going to be the trendsetting generation,” Puth said. “There are the people who are going to decide if a song is popular or not, so why not showcase it to the audience that’s going to do just that?”
Malyssa Bedke, who attended the concert, said she thinks the song will be popular on the radio.
“It just was super catchy,” Bedke said. “It’s like one of those relatable love songs that everybody loves.”
A recent graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston with a degree in music production and engineering, Puth said his biggest piece of advice to USU students would be to just “do your own thing.”
“Don’t get so caught up in the academia,” Puth said. “Still do the homework, but apply it to real life situations.”
Puth said he spent weekends at Berklee outside record label offices, waiting to submit demos of songs recorded in his music production classes. Sometimes he waited for over six hours and some companies still wouldn’t see him.
But Puth was unphased. He said he’d just take the train home and do the same thing the next week.
“It’s like an Arnold Palmer of education,” Puth said. “Half school, half real life, and that’s the approach that I would take for anything.”
Mimi Knowles, who opened for Puth, said his advice to students would be to “just start.”
“That’s like, the hardest thing, is just starting.” Knowles said. “If you want to be anything, just start.”
The concert was followed by a dance at the Fieldhouse on campus, after which students gathered at the block A in front of Old Main for True Aggie Night.
The theme for the night was “Light the Night,” and Knowles said it was, indeed, “lit.”