Fall Fest 2014: Performers T.I. and Schoolboy Q are part of the reliable rap genre SA counts on

If ain't broke, don't fix it


The University at Buffalo has roughly 20,000 undergraduates. Making every single student happy with a music festival featuring only two or three acts is impossible.

A democratic system in which every student of the University votes for their desired ‘fest’ artists would be a logistical nightmare. A school-wide survey wouldn’t work either. The survey would be largely ignored and completely misrepresentative of the student body.

What is the answer?

The responsibility to handpick the artists who should come to UB falls into the hands of a select few SA representatives. This year, Schoolboy Q and T.I. will be coming to UB.

This selection has stirred controversy because of the disproportionate number of rap and hip-hop artists who have visited the University in recent years. In the past ten years, only three concerts have not been rap.

Many students bemoan the lack of musical variety, saying that is exemplifies the Student Association’s inability to put their finger on the pulse of the student body.

From the SA’s perspective, why fix what isn’t broken? The rap concerts have been working out over the past few years. Following this logic, the decision is simple. Continue to bring in rap artists, to the general approval of the student body.

The groundwork has been laid, and this year’s show, like last year’s, will feature a concert dominated by hip-hop.

Herein lies the impasse: should the SA risk bringing a potentially unpopular, but different, artist to campus or continue to enjoy the safety of the status quo with rap, which has proven to be decently popular over the years.

It is easy to attack SA for not offering variety, or not fulfilling the true desires of the students who attend UB. But no matter what happens, someone, somewhere will have a problem with the decisions being made.

This year, SA had $390,000 to spend on talent and spent $212,500 of it so far. In a day and age where it is not uncommon for single acts to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars as compensation for a single show, the budget – as extravagant as it sounds – is not as flexible as it seems. Even smaller acts are more expensive than people think.

The argument could be made that, yes, SA could have brought in a host of smaller acts in lieu of the big name artists. But that could have brought on a different type of backlash. Instead of complaining that ‘we have so much rap,’ students would ask, ‘Who is this band?’ and ‘Why didn’t we get so-and-so?’

Last year for Spring Fest, SA brought Citizen Cope, The Band Perry and Gloriana in an attempt to appease students who wanted more variety. The groups were just as expensive, and weren’t rap or hip-hop artists, but for some reason overall satisfaction dropped among the student body.

Was it the variety that led to the lack of satisfaction or is the problem deeper than just the genre of music?

The problem lies within the student body itself. There is no one or two bands that will make everyone happy. The student body is too diverse, and therein the real issue lies.

No matter what SA chose it was going to be criticized for the decision the group made. It’s easy to point a finger at the decision-makers behind Fall Fest.

SA stuck to what it knew. The organization brought two rappers who have both experienced success at the pinnacle of the music industry, which is no small feat. They are popular, well known and each have a series of hits that have topped the charts and won awards.

It is, undeniably, an extremely similar concert atmosphere to last year, and many years before that. But that atmosphere has proven successful, so can you really blame SA just for playing it safe?

email: brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com