Fall Fest 2014: Schoolboy Q and T.I. continue UB's hip-hop and rap trend

SA's spends more than $200,000 on talent for this year's fest

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The Student Association is paying more than $200,000 of student money to bring Schoolboy Q and T.I. to co-headline Fall Fest 2014.

The Sept. 6 concert marks the seventh of 10 recent fests featuring hip-hop and rap. The genre choice leaves some students craving diversity and others thrilled with the lineup that also includes opening acts by Ab-Soul and Bas. SA spent at least $50,000 more on talent cost this year than in 2013.

SA President James Ingram said talent cost and production cost fall within the range of what the organization usually pays for its big concert series.

While the genre and cost may be the norm, Ingram made it a priority to have the fest earlier than in recent years.

Last year’s Fall Fest wasn’t until October, “so I wanted to make sure this year we could try to have it early because I feel like that’s when everyone gets back to campus, everyone’s trying excited to be here [and] most people are trying to get together and have a good time,” Ingram said.

The concert will take place about five weeks earlier than it did last year.

Tickets for the general public are on sale at the Alumni Arena box office and Ticketmaster’s website. UB undergraduate students, who help fund Fall Fest with their mandatory $94.75 student activity feel each semester, will get in for free by showing their ID at the door.

How much does this cost?

According to its ledger, SA set aside $640,000 for this year’s Fall and Spring Fests with $390,000 in one budget for talent costs and $250,000 in a separate budget for production costs. The organization’s ledger currently shows it has spent $212,500 on talent for this Fall Fest and more than $125,000 for production.

Each fest’s production costs average around $150,000, according to Ingram and SA Entertainment Coordinator Marc Rosenblitt. The overall talent cost for this Fall Fest is more than either last year’s fests – Spring Fest, for example, talent cost around $190,000.

The difference between the production cost of an indoor and outdoor concert can vary in excess of $10,000 per concert. Ingram said he’d like to host the concert at Baird Point, but it could be inside Alumni Arena or its parking lot depending on the weather.

SA has spent between $265,000 and $400,000 on each of the past four fests and Ingram said this year’s final cost be in that range. Annually, the fests account for about 18 percent of SA’s roughly $3.5 million budget made up entirely of student fees.

Canisius College also collects student fees to fund its concerts but the smaller school has a less robust budget. Canisius’ student government spends roughly $20,000 on one concert for its 3,000 undergraduates.

Canisius student Emmalene Carberry, who has responsibilities similar to Ingram’s in planning concerts, advocates for student input when spending student money. She encourages student polls.

“I’m a big proponent of spending student tax dollars the way students want them to be spent,” Carberry said.

The question of genre

This year’s Fall Fest continues a recent tradition of fests dominated by rap and hip-hop performances.

Seventy percent of fests in the past five years have featured predominantly hip-hop or rap related line-ups, bringing more than 20 of the genre’s most popular artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Steve Aoki, B.o.B and Bruno Mars to campus since spring 2010. Last Spring Fest, which featured The Band Perry, Gloriana and Citizen Cope, was the only fest of the past six to feature something other than hip-hop or rap.

Vanessa Gyamfi, a senior health and human services major, understands why the SA sticks with rap and hip-hop as part of pleasing the broader interests of UB as a whole, but she wishes the genre would change.

“I think it’s kind of repetitive,” Gyamfi said. “They had country for Spring Fest, but I wish [it was] a different genre every semester [rather] than the same thing on and on and on and on.”

Ingram said SA is trying to please the majority of the student body with the choice of hip-hop. He also considered electronic dance music, but he’s confident in this semester’s lineup.

“We have Schoolboy Q who’s definitely a big up-and coming-rapper. He’s getting very popular,” Ingram said. “And we have T.I., who has had so many hits in his past, and we thought it was a good combination. And then Bas and Ab-Soul just kind of came together and we thought it made for a good lineup.”

Ingram said he’s received positive support from much of the campus, but SA didn’t poll students asking what they’d like to see.

Carberry feels polling ensures student money is being spent in the right way.

SA has experimented with artist polling in the past, but hasn’t since spring 2012. SA received only 3,000 votes for Fall Fest 2011, which was headlined by The Fray – an unpopular choice – while surveys for 2012’s Spring Fest received more than 18,000 votes, but resulted in the eighth most popular pick, Rick Ross, performing on campus.

Carberry said Canisius recently began conducting polls by genre, not artists because the artists the students wanted were either unavailable or wound up being too expensive.

And although Carberry said she would do polls in Ingram’s position, she added she, too, experiences a demand for rap and hip-hop concerts – though the school’s administration doesn’t usually allow it. Their most recent act was popular country artist Love and Theft.

“Maybe we’ll look at switching it up for Spring Fest,” Ingram said of future genre choices.

Students like Sandy Blanc are pleased with the consistent rap lineups and thinks it will be “10 times better” than The Band Perry’s performance in the spring.

“I think it’s great. The lineup is great … I know who they are. I mean you guys can’t get Drake here, come on,” said Krystal Martin a junior sociology and health and human services double major. “I really like the lineup. I listen to Schoolboy Q and I know who T.I is. He hasn’t made a lot of good songs lately, but he’s good.”

Across his eight studio albums, T.I has received dozens of awards, including three Grammys. He had many hit singles that, like his albums, often top the charts when they’re released including “Swagga Like Us,” “What Ever You Like,” “Live Your Life” and “Dead and Gone.”

His work has featured performances by many other hit artists including Jay Z, Eminem, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Lil Wayne.

After recently signing with Columbia Records, T.I is set to release his ninth studio album, “Paperwork: The Motion Picture,” this September.

Ingram described Schoolboy Q as a big up-and-coming rapper who has rapidly gained popularity since the release of his latest album, “Oxymoron.” He is signed to the same label as Kendrick Lamar and opening act Ab-Soul.

Some of Q’s top songs include “Man of the Year,” “Collared Greens” and “Break the Bank.”

Doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com