UB Fall and Spring Fests: the breakdown

The essential ins and outs of UB’s annual music fests

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For many UB students, Fall and Spring Fests are the most anticipated events of the year.

The university’s annual music festivals are celebrations of both the start (Fall Fest) and end (Spring Fest) of the academic year. The choice in genre for the concerts is an often-debated and speculated – in 2013, students made fake Fall Fest posters featuring a lineup of Drake, Big Sean and A$AP Rocky – topic on campus in the weeks before and after the artists are announced.

For students just arriving to UB, the details, cost and hype of the concerts might be a point of curiosity. Who pays for the concerts? What kinds of artists are UB able to bring in? And most importantly, who is going to perform this year?

But wonder no longer – here is a helpful deconstruction of Fall and Spring Fest history and cost, as well as what’s happening for next year.

History

The first “Fall Fest” was held in 1978, lasted for two days on South Campus and featured smaller artists. Since then the fests have moved to North Campus, been shortened to just one night and grown in scope.

By the 90s, artist likes Nirvana, The Tragically Hip, Iggy Pop and Buffalo rock band the Goo Goo Dolls were performing at the fests. Now, nationally-acclaimed acts like Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, T.I.Kendrick LamarThe Band Perry and most recently, Young the Giant, regularly perform at the fests.

Cost

UB’s student government, the Student Association, controls, organizes, pays for and chooses the artists for Fall and Spring Fest. Along with the annual Comedy Series and other smaller concerts, Fall and Spring Fests are some of SA’s biggest responsibilities.

Annually, SA has $390,000 for total talent budget and $350,000 for production. This money – and all of SA’s budget – comes from the mandatory student activity fee, which nearly every undergraduate pays every semester and is set to increase from $94.75 to $104.75 this year. Fall and Spring Fests are free to UB undergraduates who pay this annual fee.

This fee is larger than other student fees from similar schools in the area, including SUNY Binghamton ($95.50), SUNY Buffalo State ($75) and SUNY Fredonia ($98.25).

SA can choose to distribute this money however it wants. Last year, for example, instead of having only two concerts, SA added a third in the spring. This third concert was held to offer students a more well-rounded list of concert genre options.

Last year, Fall Fest was rap-oriented, Spring Fest featured an alternative rock lineup and a third smaller spring concert boasted electronic dance music (EDM) acts.

Fall Fest performers T.I., Schoolboy Q and Bas cost SA over $200,000 in 2014. Spring Fest with Banks, Young the Giant and In the Valley Below cost about $161,000 and the EDM show, featuring Bingo Players and 3LAU, cost just about $90,000.

Choice of genre

The question of the fests’ genres is often a topic debated among the student body. In the past, SA has attempted to poll for genre and artist preferences, to varied success.

The Fests had been dominated by hip hop artists in recent years, with acts like Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and A$AP Rocky. The Band Perry, Gloriana and Citizen Cope were booked for Spring Fest in 2014 to satisfy calls for country, pop and rock, but some considered it one of the most tepid Spring Fests in recent memory.

The arguments over SA’s choices in genres led the organization to hold an online poll last year for students to choose their preferred genre for Spring Fest. Only 1,119 students voted and EDM won with 37 percent of the vote. EDM didn’t end up as Spring Fest’s genre, but SA did hold a third smaller concert in the spring – Electric Tundra – that featured EDM artists.

UB students and locals alike attend the Fests. Typically, Fall Fest is the most popular, depending on the lineup. Last year, Fall Fest drew an attendance of 8,324 people. Spring Fest and Electric Tundra, respectively, pulled an attendance of 4,572 and 3,749 people.

This year

So far, nothing has been announced regarding the Fall Fest for the 2015-16 school year. Acts are usually announced several weeks into the semester in August.

SA President Minahil Khan said plans for Fall Fest are being finalized with the rest of the university-wide schedules.

Before any talent can be scouted, Khan said, the university-specific scheduling has to be done already. But she did confirm that SA will indeed have two concerts in the spring, like last year.

This choice, she said, is to appeal to as many students as possible.

Brian Windschitl is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com