On Tuesday, April 12, Matisyahu, Chiddy Bang, and Wesleyan DJ YeaMann will perform at the Spurrier-Snyder Hockey Rink—an event that has sparked debate about the allocation of University funds for concert booking. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and the $10 tickets went on sale today, April 5, at the University Box Office.
The headlining Hassidic reggae artist Matisyahu is a concrete departure from the more obscure artists that currently comprise the University’s music scene. Some students have expressed concern about the choice of artists, date, venue, and cost of the concert.
The scheduled concert has revealed opposing views about booking concerts at the University. According to Dylan Bostick ’13 a member of the Social Committee, which plans Spring Fling, there are two principal philosophies for concert booking at the University—booking artists with bigger names for a few well-attended concerts throughout the year, or consistently booking two or three lesser known bands every weekend. Bostick said he prefers the latter method.
“I just think we should be bringing more music here because that’s the unique thing about Wesleyan, that we have this awesome music scene that no other school can compare to” Bostick said. “But I think that having a big show like Yeasayer and Dr. Dog is also great because it appeals to people who may not know these smaller bands that are playing here.”
According to Head of the Concert Committee Donovan Arthen ’11, the most talented and active bookers on campus tend to bring artists that all fall within the same genre, which he believes can be limiting. Joey Mehling ’14 agreed that many of the concerts on campus fall under the same genre.
“I don’t care that we’re not getting big, famous, expensive bands—and we have gotten some pretty awesome bands,” Mehling said. “The one downside is that the not-big-name bands we get are all kind of in the same genre—up-and-coming indie rock and smaller bands—which for me is great because I love that, but I can understand it getting a little homogenized.”
Many students have also expressed concern about the cost of the concert, which according to the SBC, will amount to at least $50,000 in total. $30,000 was provided by the Campus Initiatives Fund, $12,500 by the Student Budget Committee (SBC), and $7,500 by the Concert Committee. According the SBC, the Concert Committee’s budget this year is $84,000. This year, Spring Fling will cost a total of approximately $75,000, including staging.
The show’s date marks the due date for senior theses or the celebratory “Thesis Day.” However, Arthen said that he thinks the event will be an opportunity for the entire community to come together, not just the thesis-writing seniors.
“The way that I see it, is that we’re one big community on campus,” Arthen said. “When a large group of people on campus have something to celebrate, why not be able to spread that and share that with as many people as possible?”
Some students have voiced concerns about the event being on a weekday.
“Maybe if it was on a Saturday and free, I would go,” said Faith Harding ’14.
Others have raised qualms about the choice of the Hockey Rink as the venue, which in the past has held events such as Feet to the Fire and Waste Not. According to some critics, the rink is similar to the Bacon Field House both structurally and acoustically, where Girl Talk performed in December 2008 to a number of complaints reference the space.
Arthen said the venue was chosen specifically for its high capacity, and he hopes the show will have a large turnout. He said he believes the show will offer an alternative to smaller shows on campus, allowing for more than just several hundred students to come together.
Other students argue that a niche artist such as Matisyahu does not have wide enough appeal to warrant the both the ticket price and the amount of money spent to bring the artist to campus.
Still, for others, the draw of a big name such as Matisyahu surpasses any qualms about location, date, or price.
“Since Matisyahu makes really good music, I would go even on a Tuesday night,” said Anisha Wilmink ’14.