Student Association holds first ‘Electric Tundra’ in addition to Spring Fest
Dual spring concert series finds support among student body
UB’s first ever “Electric Tundra,” an EDM fest, is slated for April 17.
“Electric Tundra” will be headlined by Bingo Players, comprised of Dutch artist Maarten Hoogstraten, and will feature 3LAU and DNNYD.
The Student Association has split up the Spring Fest budget to support two separate concerts with different genres instead of one Spring Fest concert. Spring Fest will be on May 2 and feature an alternative rock group. The EDM show will take over the inside of Alumni Arena, which houses roughly 6,000 people.
SA’s goal this year was to cover as many genres as they could, according to SA President James Ingram. In an interview right before spring break Ingram told The Spectrum that’s why SA surveyed students in the fall – they wanted to find out which genres were the most popular.
There will be 1,500 tickets set aside for the general public for $30; students will be able to get concert admission with a valid student ID on a first come, first serve basis the night of the show. The concert is funded through SA, paid by students’ mandatory student activity fee. This year, that fee was $94.75 each semester, but it will be $10 higher starting in the fall.
“We were looking at our budget and thought we could put together a good EDM show and have money left to put together a good Spring Fest concert,” Ingram said. “I wanted to make sure we switched up the genres a little.”
The cost of talent for the EDM show is just under $90,000, Ingram said. SA is still finalizing production costs of the concert, but Ingram said he thinks inside Alumni is the best place on campus for EDM shows, which are known for elaborate light setups.
Ingram said SA made it a mission this year to provide a variety of genres to students – that’s why SA made a survey in the fall.
In a poll of 1,119 students, 414 students voted they wanted an EDM show. Other popular genres included pop with 406 votes, hip-hop with 399 and rock with 396.
Brandon Alexander, a junior communication and digital media study major, supports the new format completely.
“It was definitely a great idea to split the two shows, especially after how many people were unhappy with the country concert last spring,” Alexander said. “This lets people who aren’t a fan of some genres go to a concert without having other genres shoved down their throat.”
Ingram said this support is why the change was made for the spring concerts.
“I’m glad we were able to bring in a genre that students had a say in and that students should be excited about,” he said. “Bingo Players and 3LAU are great EDM acts and are going to bring a good show to Buffalo.”
Maia Pidsadnick, a junior studying theatre performance, has, admittedly, never heard of the Bingo Players.
But she said she believes the switch to two concerts was a positive one.
“Sometimes students are so busy it is difficult to make it to one concert,” Pidsadnick said. “I think having them separated gives more opportunities for students to go out and have fun.”
Bingo Players, once a duo before the death of Hoogstraten’s partner Paul Baümer in 2013, is currently on a world tour and has performed at New York’s Electric Zoo. Their songs feature bouncing synthesizer and guitar-like riffs, accompanied with strong, driving beats. They went from the house scene when they started in 2006 and are now an EDM giant with songs like “Nothing to say,” “Get up (Rattle), “Cry (Just a little) and “Mode.”
3LAU, the stage name for artist Justin Blau, has also performed at Electric Zoo and released the track “Viking” last year on Dim Mak Records. DNNYD, an up-and-comer in the EDM scene, released his track “Get the Party Going” this year.
Ingram said he is aware of the potential risks of hosting “Electric Tundra.” He recognizes the negative connotations associated with the EDM scene, which is often linked to drug abuse, particularly to the synthetic psychoactive drug MDMA (ecstasy).
“It’s a valid concern,” Ingram said. “It came to mind for me because you do, almost semi-regularly, see these horror stories of a large group of young people, students, ending up in the hospital because they’ve all taken a bad batch of some sort of drug.”
Fifteen people have died at music festivals around the world, according to a 2014 Billboard article.
But in 2013, when there were seven drug-related deaths at music festivals, the majority of deaths were accidental, according to Billboard.
Coleman Thomas, a junior political science major, said these drug concerns are legitimate, but he said UB should be able to handle any problems that come up.
Ingram said he talked to Student Life about these concerns and is working to ensure campus security is aware of the potential danger of drug use.
The most common cause of MDMA-related medical emergencies is heatstroke, according to DanceSafe, an organization that helps “young people in the electronic music community stay safe,” according to its website.
Thomas Tiberi, director of Student Life, said Student Life will be taking all precautions necessary to protect the students, including safety stations, police patrols and pre-concert security screens.
For Thomas, the potential dangers of the concert are outweighed by the excitement he feels.
“The student body was left hoping for something new and different for this year,” Thomas said. “As long as UB’s primary goal with these events is for the students to safely have a good time, and this goal is kept in mind by concert-goers and concert-hosters alike, the show will be a success.”
This article has been updated with the correct date of the EDM Fest.
Sara DiNatale contributed reporting to this story.
Brian Windschitl is an arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org