It seems that every time the headlining artist for a Boston College concert in announced, most students can only say “who?” or “why?”
This year is no exception. Stokes Set will host Nico & Vinz, a Norwegian afro-beat duo who are on the rise in the music world, on Sept. 23. Mike Florio, CSOM ’19 and Director of Live Entertainment (LE) on the Campus Activities Board (CAB), sat down with The Heights to discuss the upcoming concert, the artist selection process, and the LE division of CAB.
LE is the part of CAB that organizes all of the concerts on campus—Stokes Set, Plexapalooza, and Modstock—as well as smaller entertainment events like the brunches with live music, comedian nights, and even some hypnotist performances.
Florio—and CAB, for that matter—is excited for Stokes Set this coming weekend. The group wants to brand Stokes Set as an “event,” rather than make it driven by the artist. Rather than promote the 2016 Plexapalooza as a Chainsmokers concert, for example, Florio explains that CAB would prefer to highlight the event itself.
“It’s not just the artist, it’s the ambiance,” he said. “It’s the experience that happens there.”
Nico & Vinz can help them accomplish this goal. The duo is known for being incredible to watch live. CAB wants to create an experience out of their performance. What they envision is an evening of entertainment. The sun sets on Stokes Lawn, Nico & Vinz put on a wonderful show, and people have good food and drinks. Florio even hinted at some sort of special lighting for which students should be sure to look out.
The selection process is more complicated than just picking an artist that they think fits with the vibe of each concert—for example, Plexapalooza is EDM while Modstock is hip-hop or R&B. But Stokes Set didn’t have an identity yet.
So at the end of last semester, CAB wanted to hear from the student body about what they wanted to see. Students filled out a survey for if they wanted Stokes Set to be country or alternative rock—most of the survey-takers chose the latter. Over the summer, LE began to target certain alternative rock or similarly-genred artists that would fit within their budget. Florio did not disclose CAB’s entertainment budget, but he emphasized that the money they receive must be divided between all of the major concerts, as well as the smaller events they host on campus. Florio gave an example of the common complaints from people who are unaware of selection process details.
“A lot of the time you’ll get ‘Why can’t you bring Beyonce to campus?’” he said. “Because Beyonce is worth a million dollars and that’s not what we have in our budget.”
Most of these artists don’t offer student discounts either. CAB tries to find artists who are talented, but are also “on the rise.” Nico & Vinz have released a few hit singles and dropped a new EP last year. LE also tries to find artists who are marketing themselves toward younger crowds. This way, a college campus is more appealing to them than a typical concert venue. CAB doesn’t need to pay Beyonce-level fees to host them, and the artist gains more popularity among their desired fan-base.
Besides the monetary constraints, CAB must also find artists that would be appropriate to host at a Jesuit institution like BC. Some popular artists might be unattainable because of their content. Florio explains that this causes more difficulty for some concerts than others. Modstock is usually a hip-hop or R&B concert, and LE must work to find artists that the administration will approve that are also within their budget. Florio explained that LE tries to anticipate the administration’s desires, saving them a lot of time and work throughout the selection process. To Florio’s knowledge, LE has become adept at ruling out potentially controversial artists, and they have not had a suggestion rejected.
In spite of these external constraints, CAB still wants to provide what the students want. Florio was keen to stress that he, LE, and CAB in general are always available to the student body. They have planned a few events this year called Coffee with CAB. Students can come to meet with CAB representatives to ask any questions provide suggestions. Florio even offered their office as a potential place to connect with CAB.
As far as Stokes Set goes, the people at CAB have put a lot of time, effort, and heart into the event, and they want to be sure that the students love it as much as they do. They will have fall-themed food and beverages in the form of apple cider and apple cider donuts, as well as a light-show that will occur during the concert. Florio also wants students to be on the lookout for some of the smaller upcoming events like the hypnotist nights, the acoustic brunch, and of course the coffee with CAB.
Students might not always know who these artists are when they are announced. What CAB wants, however, is to choose performers that they think the student body will like and that will appeal to the demographic present at these concerts.
Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor