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MS MR concert draws in just 204 UB students

Small spring concert brings in low attendance

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Lizzy Plapinger, vocalist of MS MR, told a crowd of UB students she felt like she was at a “middle school assembly.”

These words echoed through the sparsely filled seats of the Center for the Arts Saturday night.

Only 204 students attended the Student Association’s most recent concert for indie-rock duo MS MR. SA had 1,740 free tickets available for students, and although it gave out 1,200, just one-sixth of those students actually came through the door. No tickets were available for purchase for the general public.

All undergraduate students could attend the concert for free with a student ID, as they pay SA a mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 a semester.

The show cost SA about $30-40,000 in production costs and $30,000 in talent costs, according to SA Entertainment Coordinator Marc Rosenblitt.

David Monegro, a senior chemistry major, did not attend Saturday’s concert and said he had previously never heard of MS MR.

“Why pick out a random band to play and hope people like it?” Monegro said in an email.

While an intimate and seemingly enjoyable show for the students who did attend, the indie-pop group’s arrival on campus nearly went unnoticed.

“We really wanted to cater to all UB students,” said SA President Minahil Khan. “There’s a lot of history of hip-hop and electronic music, we don't usually do a lot of alternative and we have a lot of students that are into that.”

Rosenblitt admitted he didn’t imagine the attendance would be so low, but said he is viewing the concert and attendance in a positive light.

“We gave 204 students the opportunity to sit front row of a band they enjoyed in a very intimate atmosphere,” Rosenblitt said.

Rosenblitt said one can never be sure of turnout until patrons start walking through the door and that SA is always looking for ways to improve and implement new ideas.

MS MR’s performance was part of an annual effort by SA to hold a third, smaller concert in addition to its Fall and Spring Fests – which are SA’s largest concerts and normally bring in big-name artists.

Last spring, SA’s third concert was a successful Electric Dance Music (EDM) concert that packed the larger venue of Alumni Arena, which has a capacity of more than 6,000.

Khan said UB Athletics did not give SA any available dates to use Alumni Arena other than the upcoming Spring Fest concert, so SA purposely aimed for a smaller scale concert than last year’s EDM fest. She said using Alumni Arena allows a larger budget because the concert can hold more people.

Smaller concerts in the CFA don’t provide an opportunity for SA to subsidize concert costs through general public ticket purchases, as the organization would like to provide as many tickets to students as possible.

“Our goal is to always minimize amount of tickets sold so we can get the most amount of students at the show,” Khan said.

Rosenblitt said SA didn’t count out an EDM concert but there were other variables to take into account.

“There wasn’t any sort of decision not to do an EDM show – rather based upon our available venues, budgets, schedules and a litany of other factors, we came to the conclusion that MS MR would fit in as a nice part of our semester,” Rosenblitt said.

SA has yet to announce the artist or date for Spring Fest, but the concert is typically held in early May.

Tom Dinki and Brian Windschitl contributed reporting.

Kenneth Kashif Thomas is the arts editor and can be reached at kenneth.thomas@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KenUBSpec.


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