If last year’s Finals Fest cost students $15, they might have complained about having to spend their beer money, but they would have done it anyway. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were just reaching their peak fame when they rocked the Kibbie Dome last May.
This year, even students that don’t drink decided to keep their money. I hate to say this, particularly because it has come to be known as the most exciting event of the year at UI, but Finals Fest has flopped. The decision to make tickets to Grouplove free was not a result of the university president winning the lottery, but an admission of defeat.
I want to make it clear that ASUI is by no means obligated to provide us with a concert for Finals Fest. That said, Grouplove was a bad choice for a college campus. As an alternative rock band, Grouplove is a niche that doesn’t particularly appeal to a college crowd trying to relieve the stress of dead week. After bringing in rappers the last two years – of Childish Gambino and Macklemore. The target audience of Finals Fest expects nothing short of a party, which is exactly what you get at a rap concert.
Grouplove’s particular brand of music appeals more to a group of singing middle school girls whose ninth grade friend just got their driver’s license, than a campus full of frat boys and hipsters. College students yearn for authenticity and copious amounts of bass, not Kumbaya style sing-alongs.
A point of interest for me is the correlation between the level of perceived authenticity of an act, and college students’ fondness for them.
Macklemore, though some might argue a few of his songs are cheesy, brought an authenticity that was the physical embodiment of cool at the time.
I’m sure the event’s planners will be the first ones to tell you they lucked out with Macklemore, but the drop from an A-list act isn’t the only reason students aren’t talking about Grouplove.
The bottom line is that we are college students, not middle school glee club members and we like to be treated as such.
The students behind Finals Fest worked hard to bring this group to UI, but failed to realize that if you can’t book a high profile act, at least give students the music they enjoy. A rap artist with a less recognizable name would have been a better selection than an alternative rock band with a couple of Zfun hits.
Karter Krasselt can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org