Arts & Culture

‘Gigs on the Grass’ features student musical talent

U.’s first student-only festival kicked off Saturday, best acts chosen for “Spring Prekend”

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The first annual “Gigs on the Grass” showcased student performances at Pembroke field, culminating in a “Battle of the Bands.”

Student bands took turns at the two stages on Pembroke field Saturday afternoon, drawing a steady flow of concertgoers up from Thayer for Brown’s newest festival, “Gigs on the Grass.” The first festival at Brown to exclusively feature student artists, “Gigs” was organized by the Brown Concert Agency and the Class Coordinating Board with the support of the Student Activities Office.

It is also the first event that the BCA and CCB have coordinated together. Senior members of both groups said it marks the beginning of an annual tradition and an important platform for talented student musicians.

But “Gigs” is more than a concert. After a “Battle of the Bands,” a panel of three judges, all recent alums, announced the winners: Luk and Val Make Music, Pure Evan, DIASPORA and richard. These four bands will be featured in a concert to be scheduled just a couple weeks ahead of Spring Weekend; the CCB will call it “Spring Prekend,” said Pia Struzzieri ’18, president of CCB 2018.

The judges seem to have been impressed by the contestants, as they found themselves unable to winnow down the list to only three bands as they originally intended.

Most of the musicians at the concert delivered skilled performances. The four groups headed for Spring Prekend showed an impressive combination of energy, spot-on vocals and infectious rhythm. The Prekend lineup promises something for every taste, from DIASPORA’s intense raps to Luk and Val’s more simple, indie melodies.

The creation of these concerts was spurred by a desire to elevate student musicians and reach out to new students looking for opportunities in the musical community, said BCA co-chair Riley Ryan-Wood ’17.

Speakeasies, small shows for student musicians, were discontinued this year partly because they were “poorly attended,” Ryan-Wood said. The BCA believed it could accomplish more with a larger concert event.

Meanwhile, the CCB was planning a similar event to help address the “lack at Brown of events that feature student musicians or student artists,” Struzzieri said.

“The two groups kind of came up with our ideas independent of each other and then realized that we had the same goal: (an) event that would showcase Brown student talent and bring people together,” said BCA co-chair Anisha Rathod ’18.

“Of course, we came at it from slightly different angles, and I think that they really complimented each other,” Struzzieri said.

After discussions that began not long after last Spring Weekend and continued through the summer, the BCA and CCB jointly held auditions.

Out of 84 groups to express interest, 45 groups were invited to audition, Struzzieri said.

Struzzieri and the co-chairs of BCA stressed that the process was organized to be as fair as possible, and both a dedicated committee and an algorithm created to reduce the bias in the notes of the evaluators chose the same list of bands.

Once the groups were chosen, they were given important “tools to promote themselves,” Ryan-Wood said. These included “taking professional-quality photos of them (and) getting them to actually record a song,” she said.

Around 1,400 people attended the concert, though not necessarily for its full length.

“It went off pretty much without a hitch. As it becomes an annual thing, I think more and more people are going to attend,” Struzzieri said.

Struzzieri was reluctant to highlight a single band for praise but spoke highly of Electric Kitty and Luk and Val, among others, and she called Sam Hill “the smoothest rock ever.”

As the BCA focuses its efforts on next semester’s Spring Weekend, the CCB will organize Brown’s first Spring Prekend.

“That’s going to be an event that’s put on entirely by CCB,” Struzzieri said. “It’s going to be nighttime, it’s going to be these four bands, and they’re going to really have full control over their performance.”

“My main goal is to just keep bringing attention to student musicians,” she added.