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Arts & Culture

‘Not Quite Spring Weekend’ broadcasts musical artists, raises money for COVID relief

Student-run virtual benefit concert streamed live for 10 hours May 30, raised over $2,000 for COVID response funds

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, June 5, 2020

Ben Stewart’ 20, known artistically as folk-pop singer Tetrapod, plays guitar on the steps of the Stephen Robert '62 campus center.

Not Quite Spring Weekend, a virtual benefit concert organized by a group of University students, rocked the screens of many via BeLive and Facebook on May 30. The festival comprised 12 student performers and 10 professional acts, which altogether provided students and the public with over 10 hours of original music. 

From the steps of the Blue Room, Ben Stewart ’20, known artistically as folk-pop singer Tetrapod, strummed his guitar in a surgical mask; Bree Zhang ’22 performed a mesmerizing and ethereal piece on the guzheng, a Chinese plucked string instrument. In a pink wig, New Zealand artist Theia danced to splashy electronic beats in front of five sparkling images of Britney Spears; Lily Porter-Wright ’20 strummed powerful and folky ballads, as members of the audience cheered “GO OFF” and “I love this song!!!” in the comment section. 

Shubham Makharia ’21, Anwen Lin ’23, Jack Riley ’23, Katie Baumgarten ’23, Joey Urban ’21, Zach Kapner ’21, Alex Park ’23 and James Bove ’23 organized the virtual concert in response to the cancellation of Brown’s beloved Spring Weekend — a University tradition that dates back to 1950. The team is part of Tunes For Change, a student organization that “puts on benefit shows and student busking drives during the year,” Kapner said. 

Although Not Quite Spring Weekend was neither a part of Tunes For Change nor affiliated with Brown, the group of friends organizing the event sought to continue their organizations’ message virtually. “One of the issues we ran into was that since it’s outside of the Brown calendar it’s not allowed to be a Brown event. So even though the (organizers) are all in Tunes for Change, the event itself is not affiliated with Brown” Lin said. But for that reason, the event was not just open to Brown student listeners “but students everywhere.”

The team started planning their virtual concert in early April after students left campus due to the pandemic. “We started talking about planning some kind of virtual thing. We had seen a bunch of videos on Facebook, on YouTube, lots of folks able to stream and share,” Makharia said. “We knew that Spring Weekend was canceled, so it seemed like a good synergy.” 

All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Entry to the online festival consisted of an early-bird $5 donation or a $7 donation from May 28 onward. The organization ultimately collected a total of $2,100 for the Rhode Island Foundation and COVID-19 Response Fund. 

“It’s kind of a win-win, we’re raising all this money to give to a really great fund and we also get to hear some really cool artists,” Lin said before the festival. “Most of them are performing live and we have student performers too. It’s just a cool community event and I’m really excited to be able to interact with some of these artists.” 

About 180 participants were admitted to the private Facebook group that streamed the festival. Twenty-five performers, including students Chance Emerson ’23 and Zoe Butler ’20 alongside professional artists and groups like DAP the Contract, The Greeting Committee and We Three, streamed live or sent in recorded performances, playing and singing from their bedrooms, basements, garages and more.

“It was fun to play music for people again,” Emerson said, acknowledging that “Livestream concerts are different and arguably harder than playing live because you don’t get much immediate feedback from the audience. Sometimes it can feel like you’re playing to a metal box.” 

“I think my favorite part (of the festival) was Tetrapod and Amelia Chalfant. I think that’s also when the stream was in highest attendance,” Makharia said. “Everyone was just really vibing in the comments. People were really positive and loving. It was cool to see the most attended part was when students were performing, not when the other conventionally larger acts were. People were interested in seeing their friends play, which was really cool to see.” 

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  1. Samuel Fantl says:

    wow..

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