Wiz rolls up on Greekfest

Francie Johnson

For the past four years, University of Alabama students have been “partying with a purpose” at Costa Greekfest, an annual benefit concert organized by Greek Affairs and the Interfraternity Council. Friday night, the party is back for a fifth year, this time hosted by Tuscaloosa band Mother Funk, indie-roots band Dispatch and rapper Wiz Khalifa.

The event, sponsored by Costa, has raised nearly $150,000 throughout the last four years. All of the proceeds go directly to various charity organizations, with this year’s profits benefiting UA Greek Relief’s tornado recovery efforts and the Billfish Foundation’s work toward cleaning up the coast.

Matt Ford, public relations chair for the IFC, said much went into deciding what charity to support for the fifth annual Costa Greekfest.

“This year was something special because we really wanted to support UA Greek Relief,” Ford said. “It was a real privilege to give money to UA Greek Relief in addition to Billfish because they’re a really good philanthropy.”

This won’t be the first time Chad Urmston, lead singer of Dispatch, has helped others with his music. Urmston has been involved in several charities throughout his career, including the Elias Fund, with Zimbabwean youth, and Amplifying Education, a foundation geared toward improving schools throughout the United States.

Urmston said giving back helps make his career feel worthwhile.

“What goes around comes around,” Urmston said. “It’s a way for me to live a more fulfilling life out on the road if I feel like the band is doing good things besides just playing. The road can get kind of empty sometimes, so it’s a way to round the experience.”

Dispatch, a band known for merging elements of many different musical genres, reached the peak of its popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The band released its fifth studio album, “Circles Around The Sun,” in 2012 after a 12-year hiatus.

“We just kinda grew up a little bit,” Urmston said. “We’re all more mature. I think we used to be so wrapped up in each others’ identities; we had no life except for the band. It’s good now that we have our own separate lives.”

Dispatch fans love the band for its folkish tunes, but Urmston and his fellow band members plan on changing directions completely for their next project: a dance album.

“We hope that people will kind of embrace us as a band that’s doing different things,” Urmston said. “With artists that I really love, I don’t want to be pandered to. I want them to take me higher.”

Urmston said he looks forward to Wiz Khalifa’s headlining set, a sentiment shared by much of the student body.

“I’ve been listening to Wiz Khalifa since my sophomore year of high school,” John Flis, a junior majoring in mathematics, said. “I stumbled upon his song ‘Say Yeah’ and decided to see what else this Wiz Khalifa guy had recorded. I found a gold mine of music. He quickly became my favorite rapper.”

Cameron Jibril Thomaz, better known as Wiz Khalifa, has released three studio albums, 11 mixtapes and has collaborated with several big names in the music industry, including Lil Wayne, Maroon 5 and Snoop Dog.

“I like his flow and his unique style,” Flis said. He sings about such a free lifestyle and does what he wants wherever he is, just living his life to the fullest each day. It’s inspiring in a way.”

Greekfest will take place Friday in the Northeast Commuter lot behind the Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi houses. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advanced and $50 at the door, and all proceeds will benefit UA Greek Relief and the Billfish Foundation. To purchase tickets, visit studentorg.tix.com.

“We’re hoping to raise a lot of money for the charity,” Ford said. “That’s the whole point driving the event – to make a difference – and of course we’re hoping for a good turnout, a fun uniting event for campus and the student body.”