Wesleying’s announcement yesterday regarding the 4/12 Matisyahu/Chiddy Bang show inspired heated reactions in the comments section. Given the debate spilling across campus, on and off-line, this should surprise no one. “People will enjoy the concert no doubt,” writes one anonymous commenter. “However, it’d be great if people knew the story behind the controversy.”
Most of you—including those who lined up at 10 in the morning for tickets—realize that the show has been embroiled in campus-wide controversy and objection. But many are confused why, and details are hazy.
Zain Alam ’13 writes to Wesleying:
Over the last few weeks many of you may have heard of the Matisyahu and Chiddy Bang concert planned next week. As students involved in helping set up and book shows here at Wesleyan, we’d like to bring to your attention some facts we find most troubling about this show. This Wespeak was to be published two weeks ago but was revoked after a promise by the show’s booker that the event was definitely going to be canceled. That promise was broken and it is regretful that we were unable to make campus aware of this earlier. Our intentions now are to ensure that something of this scale does not happen again.
More from Alam after the jump.
First and foremost, the event will end up in total costing more than Spring Fling, whose budget this year was $55,000. Other acts with similar costs to Matisyahu’s include George Clinton with Parliament/Funkadelic at $30,000-$35,000, Cut Copy at $35,000-$50,000, and Chromeo at $40,000. For some other points of reference in terms of actual shows at Wesleyan this year, Titus Andronicus was $2,775, Bear Hands $1,000, and Dr. Dog $4,786. These figures should speak for themselves—a lot of shows can be put together with more than $55,000.
Funding from multiple sources is being cobbled together to make sure this show happens. These range from $25,000 drawn from the new “Campus Initiative Fund” resulting from an SBC surplus last year, $7,500 from the Concert Committee, and $12,500 from the SBC itself. No individual, or even a few, should have total control of a budget this size.
The show is to take place in the hockey rink on a Tuesday night. With many of us having dealt with sound for shows, we have little hope that anything can sound good in a space that enormous and enclosed in concrete. The capacity of the rink is 1,300 and with tickets expected to cost $5 each, we are also doubtful that a show of this nature on a weeknight will even come close to filling up.
There have been some concerns all year with the music scene and concert committee at Wesleyan. Last semester in particular, there was a noticeable lack of activity in terms of booking acts and music in general compared to years before. Some shows, ranging from No Age to Odd Future, have ended up falling through due to a variety of reasons.
Towards the beginning of either semester this year, the Concert Committee took too many weeks to make decisions on offers for acts while waiting for new members to be selected. Just as the SBC is expected to meet at the start of the semester, so should the Concert Committee. Even more troubling however is the rejection of some shows, never more than a few thousand dollars, on the grounds that committee members were not familiar with the band or didn’t see the show being successful.
Though initially put together by a group called WesUnity (whose members choose to remain anonymous), certain members of the SBC and Concert Committee were primarily responsible in navigating budgetary bureaucracy and securing funding. In the real world, if any elected representative heading a budgetary committee diverted huge sums of the people’s money in this manner, there would be a serious outcry. Having brought this event to light, we hope this too is the case at Wesleyan. Though word is that Chiddy Bang and Matisyahu’s contracts have already been finalized, we hope students speak up and hold student budgetary committees at Wesleyan accountable.
This is your money. There should accordingly be checks on it for events with such enormous costs and some manner of oversight amongst those we’ve elected. We believe most of campus would hate to go down a route where Wesleyan has just a few big shows planned every semester like so many other schools. Those passionate about music in particular came here having seen a place where there were not only a lot of shows but also a lot of diversity amongst them.
The music scene has been something the students here have always been pretty passionate and proud of regardless of how it ebbs and flows. Whether the scene of a smaller punk band on a Sunday night or that of the next big thing that weekend on, we should try and encompass it all. We are in no way opposed to big shows like this one but there must be a greater sense of responsibility when dealing with so much of the students’ money. Concentration and homogenization are not what any of us envision as our music scene’s future. For something we so cherish, it really would be quite a shame for so many of its resources to be drained in one swift moment.
Zain Alam ‘13
I-hui Chow ‘12
Adrien Defontaine ‘13
Ethan Cohen ‘13
Dylan Bostick ‘13
Ethan Young ‘13
Matthew Bernstein ‘11
Neo Sora ‘13
Hannah Baker ‘14
Michael Ullman ‘12
Jesse Ross-Silverman ‘13
Charlie Hanna ‘12
Scott Infusino ‘12
Tennessee Mowrey ‘14
Charlie Ellis ‘13
Gil Sunshine ‘12
Rayna Edwards ‘11
Isaac Silk ‘14
Casey Feldman ‘12
Sam Lyons ‘12
Zully Adler ‘11
Andrew Zingg ‘12
Nathaniel Draper ‘12