Matt & Kim, The White Panda take campus by confetti storm

BY JULIA CINQUEGRANI ’16
Campus Life Editor

Saturday night’s Spring concert at the ASFC saw the culmination of more than six months of planning, as Matt & Kim and The White Panda performed in front of an energetic audience.

Organization for the concert began in October and was led by the F&M Concert Committee, headed by Eric Belser ’13 and Ed Sinitsa ’13, and overseen by Kelly Kennedy ’04, director of college programs.

During the Fall they began working with a third-party booking agent to choose a band.

From the booking agent they received a list of hundreds of potential artists, and from that narrowed down the list to about 50 artists based on name recognition, talent, and live performance skills. Next, they talked with the administration to discuss the potential bands and the cost of each. They narrowed the list of bands down further and sent out an email questionnaire to students to gauge interest in the remaining potential bands.

After receiving about 1,000 responses from students, the Concert Committee narrowed the list down to about five bands with the highest interest, and around Winter break, the committee began contacting the bands. It eventually picked Matt & Kim and The White Panda band based on their cost and availability.

Planning was a collaborative effort among Kennedy, Belser, and Sinitsa, and they have had weekly meetings for many months to coordinate. Kennedy handled paperwork through the Business Office that was necessary to obtain funding from the administration. Belser and Sinitsa helped advertise the concert among the student body, encouraged students to volunteer to help set up the day of the concert, and coordinated the timeline for the concert day.

Organizing the concert, however, was a collaborative effort among many groups on campus. David Proulx, associate vice president for finance, helped coordinate money for necessary payments, and Facilities and Operations helped with setting up the ASFC to host the concert.

“I think in order for the concert to be a success you have to have buy-in from every single part of campus,” Kennedy said. “And that is students primarily, but it’s also administration.”

This is the first year in many the concert has featured two separate bands. After securing Matt & Kim, the Concert Committee began looking for another act to open, and eventually settled on The White Panda. They hoped the pairing of the two bands would increase attendance at the concert by bringing in students with disparate music tastes.

“As much as the bands are different, they pair up well,” Belser said. “We wanted to broaden interest in the concert; we’re trying to reach out to different groups on campus.”

Also new this year, the concert was held in the ASFC instead of Mayser Gymnasium, where it was held in past years. The main reason for this change was the over-crowding and crowd-control concerns that occurred at last year’s concert, as the ASFC provides a bigger space for the event.

On Saturday, final preparations for the concert began in the ASFC around 8 a.m. and were coordinated by Belser and Sinitsa. Student volunteers helped throughout the day to set up the venue, coordinate with the bands when they arrived in the afternoon, and help clean up after the concert.

Every year funding is provided by many different places within the administration because there is no designated source of funding for the Spring concert. While money from ticket sales help cover the cost, they do not cover all of it, and the administration makes up for the difference.

Kennedy and the Concert Committee hope to have the price of the concert made a permanent part of the College’s budget to make the tradition sustainable in the future. Belser also believes that if a large concert remains an annual event, it will increase student attendance.

“I think what we’re seeing a lot with students is that even if they don’t know who Matt & Kim is, if they knew that the Spring concert was always a thing every year, it would be a little bit less of ‘who’s coming?’ and a little bit more of ‘oh, I’m definitely going’ because it would be a yearly tradition,” Belser said.

However, low turn-out to the Spring concert for a few successive years could jeopardize the Concert Committee’s ability to organize concerts in the future because low ticket sales increase the cost the administration has to pay for the concert.

“If attendance isn’t great and the school is paying more than they thought they were going to pay, we will question whether we will do future concerts,” Belser said. “So even if it’s not exactly what people would want, we are bringing a good concert; we can guarantee that. And we need to support the concerts year-to-year to keep having concerts in the future.”

Promoting this year’s concert and getting students excited about it have also proved difficult.

“You can get the word out, but people will come if their friends are going, if it’s cool to go,” Kennedy said. “When the name of the band isn’t as catching as previous names, how do you get students to come? That’s the challenge.”

Another explanation for the seemingly lower excitement among students was the different genre of music that Matt & Kim perform compared to bands that have performed in recent years.

“We chose Matt & Kim and White Panda because we knew they would put on a good show; we would never pick someone that was bad,” Belser said. “But people don’t know what to expect.”

Indeed, White Panda’s opening performance of remixed pop and rap songs raised the energy of the crowd and built a fun, energetic vibe throughout the audience. Matt & Kim’s performance was continually high-energy and entertaining, as they interacted with the crowd, encouraged the audience to sing with them, and dropped balloons and confetti.

At one point during the show, the audience began chanting at Kim asking her to twerk. Kim eventually obliged by crowd-surfing into the middle of the audience and performing her best twerk, in spite of having a cast on one foot.

Judging by the excitement this caused, Kim and Matt’s efforts were highly appreciated by the audience.

Questions? Email Julia at jcinqueg@fandm.edu.

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