If the city of Ann Arbor needed any further indication, the musical “Heat Waves” radiating from the Crisler Center Thursday night made it official: The Wolverines are back on campus. As the first “Welcome to Michigan” Concert in recent years, Thursday night’s event featured British indie rock band Glass Animals and was completely free for the more than 8,000 University of Michigan students in attendance.

Darin Martin, assistant director for the Center for Campus Involvement, wrote in an email to The Michigan Daily that Big Ticket Productions — the University’s concert production organization — chose Glass Animals to play at the Crisler because of their rising popularity worldwide.

“Big Ticket Productions’ mission is to bring quality, big name entertainment to campus that students want to see and can enjoy at an affordable rate,” Martin wrote.

The concert was a stop on the band’s international “Dreamland” Tour, showcasing Glass Animals’ latest album released Aug. 7, 2020. On Sep. 11 of this year, their song “Heat Waves” peaked at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot Alternative Songs list. Glass Animals performed “Heat Waves” as the final song of the night, turning the mic to the crowd during the chorus to encourage students to sing along.

LSA sophomore Rié Vander Schuur attended the concert and said she was only familiar with “Heat Waves” and one other Glass Animals song going in. Still, Vander Schuur said she enjoyed watching Daya’s opening performance and being exposed to some of the lesser-known numbers on Glass Animals’ setlist.

“My favorite part was definitely the ending because ‘Heat Waves’ … is their most popular song, so it was fun for everyone to sing along and jump around,” Vander Shuur said.

The University first announced the concert Sept. 12, with tickets — one per student — at first only being available for first- and second-year undergraduate students at the Michigan Union Ticket Office and online beginning at 10 a.m. on Sept. 14. 

The University initially planned to open up the box office on Sept. 16 to allow upperclassmen, graduate students and professional students to order tickets. However, Martin wrote to The Daily, all tickets had already been claimed by the morning of Sept. 15.

Though the concert sold out earlier than expected, some upperclassmen, like LSA junior Grace Clinger, were still able to snag tickets. Clinger said she had a great experience at the concert.

“I’ve loved Glass Animals for a few years, so it was an incredible concert,” Clinger said. “I was super happy we got to go for free.”

While many upperclassmen were disappointed tickets sold out before they would have been made available to the entire University, a number of first and second-year students were unsuccessful in securing tickets as well. LSA freshman Cassidy Brimer told The Daily she logged on right when the online queue first opened, but became discouraged after the website crashed on her device for 45 minutes. Brimer said she eventually gave up but has seen some students trying to sell their tickets in social media groups — even though tickets were non transferable. 

“I feel like I shouldn’t have to pay for an event the University was hosting for free,” Brimer said. “I wish the University had better prepared their website so people wouldn’t have had to deal with the frustration of … (getting) error messages.”

Though the Crisler Center has the capacity to accommodate more than 13,000 attendees, CCI elected to reduce the capacity by about 40% in an effort to mitigate COVID-19 transmission. Martin noted several additional precautions CCI instituted to prioritize health and safety at the event: Vaccines, masks and ResponsiBlue checks were mandated for all attendees, and the band members would be socially distanced from students while performing. The band also did not have a meet and greet to limit contact, Martin wrote.

From the stage, Glass Animals still made an effort to acknowledge the new Wolverines in attendance and celebrate their return to campus. At one point, the neon lights and set pieces on the stage were all lit up in maize and blue. As the show concluded, lead singer Dave Bayley called attention to the “Michigan” shirt he was wearing and expressed his optimism about the coming academic year.

“Welcome back to the school year,” Bayley said. “You’re going to have a fucking amazing year, I know it.”’

Daily Staff Reporter Roni Kane can be reached at ronikane@umich.edu.