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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Lutefest still afloat despite low budget

By Peter Farrell
Executive Editor

Friday, March 24, 2006

Late last week, Pause Concert Committee Chair Mike Vandelinder '08 sent out an e-mail message informing committee members that 10 bands were being considered as possible Lutefest headliners. Vandelinder listed the bands the Concert Committee had selected and encouraged members of the committee to “look through the list, give the bands a listen [and] talk to your friends.”

Of course, students took Vandelinder up on his suggestion. Spring Concert is the second biggest musical event on campus and students eagerly weighed in on the issue. The Pause was inundated with messages of support for certain artists on the list, while others expressed dismay over the lackluster choices.

“"I just don't understand why they keep picking bands no one at this campus is that interested in,”" Eric Spooner '08 said. “The Lutefest list looks pretty crappy.”

In order to stem the tide of student response, Pause Co-Coordinators David Mahnken '07 and Melissa Kuisle '06 sent out a disclaimer e-mail reassuring students that the Lutefest selection process was just getting underway. The executives advised patience in regards to the selection process while also apologizing for a failure to present the information to the student body in an organized fashion.

“"We had intended to present this information to the students in an organized and well thought-out manner. Oops. The potential here for miscommunication, misinterpretation and misunderstanding is endless, and the Pause has a responsibility to the students to be as accurate as possible,”" Mahnken and Kuisle wrote in the e-mail.

Mahnken and Kuisle's desire for accuracy is understandable. Since the Fall Concert fiasco – when headliners The Bravery failed to impress or draw a crowd, –complaints about the committee's lack of resources and organization have persisted. An advertised Heiruspecs concert got cancelled with no explanation, while others have noted that the concert calendar pales in comparison to last year.

Vandelinder readily admitted that the Concert Committee's task is daunting.

“Last year was a phenomenal year for us, and I think a lot of people are expecting a Ben Folds and Nickel Creek sort of thing,” Vandelinder said. “But that can't happen every year.”

Contrary to popular belief, the reason the Concert Committee has struggled at times this year is not because Vandelinder blew the budget on the Bravery. Rather, Student Government Association budget cuts have significantly hindered the Committee's ability to attract high priced performers.

“We actually didn't lose money on The Bravery. We didn't make money, but the reason we're working with less money is because the SGA cut some of our funding,” Vandelinder said.

Bearing that in mind, Vandelinder now regrets sending out the list of possible Lutefest headliners.

“The problem is that people don't understand the logistics of getting a band for an event like spring concert,” Vandelinder said. “The response we got shows that [lack of understanding].”

For example, the Pause received a number of e-mails from students in support of putting Ben Kweller on top of the Lutefest bill. But even though Kweller is definitely in the running for the headlining spot, the final selection process is far more complicated.

For large events like Spring Concert, the Pause works with an organization based out of Green Bay, Wisc., called Event Resources Presents (ERP). The Concert Committee contacts ERP and presents the agency with a price range, a list of genres and a specific date. ERP gets in touch with representatives from different bands that will be on tour and available for the specified date. The list Vandelinder sent out was the result of ERP's first canvassing of obtainable bands.

After the Concert Committee receives a final list from ERP, the organization narrows it down to three bands. Only then does the bidding process begin.

“"It is very possible that we will end up with a band that wasn't even on the list I sent out. Even if people really want Ben Kweller, he still has to accept our bid,"” Vandelinder said.

Thus, the search for the perfect Lutefest headliner continues. Whether or not the initial batch of bands disgusted or delighted you, Vandelinder still thinks the process should be inclusive as long as people take into consideration the conditions the Concert Committee must work with.

“Now that people know some of the bands in the running, I hope more people will come to our meetings and help make the decision with us,” Vandelinder said. “We want a band that's going to entertain the whole campus.”

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