If the Student Association Activities Board holds a concert by a well known band, will students be willing to pay for a ticket?That is one of the burning questions on the table as planning continues for this year’s Spring Weekend.
It has been more than a decade since SAAB put on their last large-scale concert featuring Run-D.M.C. An attempt was made last year to bring in popular hip-hop group Nappy Roots, but it never wound up happening due to a combination of SAAB’s budget situation and an impossible technical situation.
Last year Andy McQuerrey was elected Vice-President of Activities, the head position on SAAB. McQuerrey immediately made it his goal to get students more involved in events on campus. Original plans were to bring in Blues Traveler, but after their price climbed too high, it was decided to look elsewhere.
After viewing the results of a survey designed to gauge what kinds of bands students would be interested in going to see, focus was officially changed to Guster and their supporting band The Format.
“Guster has an Environmental Sustainability Protection Initiative that makes them an ever more attractive act to bring to Castleton,” said McQuerrey, who also stated that the band, which is from Boston, has a major following in this area.
One potential issue in booking Guster, or any other major band that SAAB may consider if things don’t work out, is the cost. Guster would cost more than $35,000 to bring in. Also, McQuerrey approximates that it will cost about $8,000 for tech and additional costs to hire security and to rent portable toilets. Castleton will be providing its own lights and sound. The money would come almost completely, if not entirely, from SAAB’s current budget.
According to McQuerrey other bands that were considered, such as O.A.R. and Ziggy Marley with Robert Randolph & The Family Band, would cost twice as much and would be out of their price range.
Still if SAAB is going to spend $35,000 on a band, they want to make sure that they are able to make a profit. The current plan is to charge $20 for Castleton students that buy their tickets in advance and $30 for students who choose to buy tickets at the door. The price would be $30 for all non-Castleton students.
“I’ve thought about the positives and I think we can make money to put back into the Student Association, as well as use the concert as a good recruitment tool for both the SA, and Castleton in general,” said McQuerrey.
Another potential problem is where the concert will be held. The current plan for a nice day is to have the concert in the area behind the gym and Castleton Hall that McQuerrey says can hold thousands of people. The plan for a rainy day is to have the concert in the gym, which has notoriously poor acoustics. It is not believed that the Fine Arts Center, which has much better acoustics, is nearly a big enough area to hold a concert of this magnitude. It will be set up as an all day event that will include at least three other cheaper local bands performing before the two headliners.
McQuerrey says that they will not be selling alcohol, as he doesn’t want to deal with the hassles it could cause. He does plan to sell snacks like hot dogs and hamburgers as well as soda and T-shirts. He hopes that clubs will be willing to get involved with some of these vending tables.
But questions persist about whether or not students are familiar enough with the band Guster to be willing to pay that much money to see them.
“The name Guster sounds familiar,” said sophomore Matthew Graham. “I think people will be willing to pay $20 to $30 for that group.”
Freshman Stacey Lariviere is quite familiar with Guster and said that they are a good band who are played on WEQX a lot, and will definitely bring in a big crowd.
Amongst that crowd may not be sophomore Andrew Barber.
“When I heard that SAAB was thinking of bringing in Guster, I figured I’d check out their music on the internet, but I didn’t like what I heard. I think they should go with another band on their list like Third Eye Blind instead,” said Barber.
“I think people on campus will pay, but will complain while doing it, especially since it’s an outdoor event and music can be heard for free,” said senior Seth Tuper. “In other words, why would I want to pay money to be cramped next to a whole bunch of screaming people when I can just stand back and hear it for free?”
Student Association president Steven Vail backs the idea saying “The last big name band to come to Castleton was ten years ago. If places like the Pickle Barrel and the Pottery Barn can bring big names, why can’t we?”
Despite students that say SAAB should go a different way, McQuerrey is determined to try and bring in a band that can reverse SAAB’s trend of drawing fewer than ten students to many of their events.
“Ever since I came to Castleton, I’ve wanted to do something big. I’ve been on the Student Association since my freshman year and I feel it is my job to represent the wants and needs of our students,” said McQuerrey. “After nine months of planning, I’ve found a way to meet those needs and represent our college’s mission in a fun and safe festival filled with music from all over Vermont and the Northeast.