The Brown Concert Agency's Fall Concert this Saturday will be an unprecedented event — and not necessarily because of the dub-stepping talents of Starkey or the psychedelic strumming of Real Estate. The real surprise for students this time around is the ticket price: gratis, frei, free.
"As far as I know, it's never been free," said Gillian Brassil '12, BCA booking chair, who referred to the Fall Concert as a "baby Spring Weekend."
The Undergraduate Finance Board usually provides funding for the cost of the talent, Brassil said, and production costs are paid for by revenues from ticket sales. This year was supposed to be no different, but over the summer, the game plan changed.
BCA compiled a list of artists they were interested in bringing to campus and put the short list before the student body on BlogDailyHerald July 31, Brassil said. The results revealed Tune-Yards, Curren$y and Theophilus London as the student body's top three choices.
Real Estate came in seventh, receiving only 40 votes out of 616. Starkey was not listed on the poll — BCA had already booked him after last year's positive reaction to the similar-sounding Stegosaurus.
Going down the list of acts, each one was either already booked or unable to make it to the concert, Brassil said. Curren$y, for example, recently broke his ankle, she said.
As a result, the combined cost for booking Real Estate and Starkey was much less than expected, Brassil said.
"We had only spent about half of our budget on talent," she said. UFB allotted $20,000 to pay for the acts this year. The organization considered trying to book a third act but decided against it to keep ticket prices down, Brassil said.
"We were like, great — tickets will only have to be five or seven dollars," Brassil said. But then they thought, why not make it completely free?
And so the group approached UFB Chair Jason Lee '12 and Vice Chair Mike Perchonok '12 with the idea of using the remaining budget to fund production in addition to the talent.
"They wanted to lower prices so more people would come," Lee said, and UFB was on board. "We don't want money to be a prohibitive factor" for students to attend events, he said.
It's "worth it to have cheaper bands if it's free," Brassil said, citing the greater number of students who would come to the event and be exposed to lesser-known musical talents if cost were not a factor. Based on student reactions, it was a very good call.
"Last year I paid money, and I hated it, so I wasn't going to go this year," said Becky Specking '13. But now, because admission is free, she said she is likely to go.
"I have trouble forking over money for Spring Weekend," added Kayleigh Butera '13, so going to a smaller concert with lesser-known acts for a similar price was not high on her to-do list.
"When it's free, I can make an appearance and then leave," said Raquel Bryant '15.
BCA would love to have another free Fall Concert, Brassil said.
UFB "didn't want to set a precedent with this," she said. But if this year goes well, she said, "who knows?"