This Saturday, the Main Green will once again become music festival stomping grounds — this year’s edition of Gigs on the Grass will be taking place on the campus’ largest quad. The third annual day-long festival celebrates student performances from a wide range of musical styles, complemented by food trucks and art. Gigs on the Grass is presented by the Brown University Class Coordinating Board and the Brown Concert Agency.
Organized by Melissa Lee ’20, community outreach officer of the 2020 CCB, and Marisa Kouroubacalis ’19.5, president of the 2019 CCB, Gigs on the Grass will present 14 student acts throughout the day, including solo acoustic performers, DJs and bands. Lee and Kouroubacalis hosted auditions for 60 individuals and groups for the event before selecting nine musical groups and five solo performers.
Gigs on the Grass is the brainchild of Pia Struzzieri ’18, Kouroubacalis explained. When brainstorming events for CCB, Struzzieri’s housemate expressed frustration about the lack of on-campus events for student bands. “She kind of created the idea based on that, so she started the event two years ago and (she ran) it entirely by herself” until she graduated, Kouroubacalis said. Struzzieri graduated last May but continued to help with the production of Gigs on the Grass this year by offering her references, notes and guidance through FaceTime calls. “It’s set up to be at Brown forever because of all the amazing work that she did,” Kouroubacalis said.
In the past, Gigs on the Grass engaged crowds on smaller fields, beginning on Pembroke Field in 2016 and moving to Wriston Quadrangle in 2017. It was originally structured as a battle-of-the-bands with two opposing stages facing each other, Kouroubacalis said. This year, the event is moving to its largest venue yet — the Green — with only one large stage, as Lee and Kouroubacalis decided to remove the battle aspect. “We didn’t want it to be like a competitive thing where someone walks away winning,” Kouroubacalis said, continuing, “we just wanted to showcase the talent.”
“We didn’t have any (particular) musical theme in mind per se. We just wanted to create a cohesive lineup that showcases Brown’s musicians,” Lee said, emphasizing they considered what the student population would enjoy in making their selections.
Bree Zhang ’22 will be performing solo on the guzheng, a twenty-one-stringed Chinese harp. “Since I was young I’ve been trying to perform to spread the culture of the instrument so that more people can know about it and more people can appreciate the history that comes with (this) instrument,” she said. She will be performing three songs, including an original composition and a lyrical, traditional piece titled “Spring Comes to the Snowy Mountain.”
“I think that it’s important for events to show off any sort of talent. It doesn’t have to be just music, … but whatever kind of capabilities we have at Brown,” Zhang said, adding that the range of talent at the festival should reflect the diversity found at Brown. “It kind of brings us together,” Zhang said.
Haley Barthel ’20, another individual performer, will be showcasing her soft pop sounds on Saturday. “I’ve always liked singing and playing guitar, but … I kind of just do it for fun, and so it seemed like a cool opportunity to put myself out there and perform,” she said.
Gigs on the Grass will “really (be) an event for the students from the students, … so we hope that everyone comes out and enjoys it,” Lee said.