UB Fall Fest genre: Is there any dissent by now?

Despite some rumbles, no conclusive evidence points UB away from the hip-hop trend

This year's Fall Fest will see some strong acts take the stage. Big Sean, Tink and Jeremih are fantastic performers who are sure to draw a large crowd. Yet there is some disappointment that for the fourth year running, Fall Fest is relying on hip-hop for its genre of choice.

The Student Association has chosen to supplement its seemingly rap-concentrated Fall Fests with smaller concerts and Spring Fests featuring other genres. In the past two years, Spring Fest has featured a country and alternative lineup, and SA hosted Electric Tundra, a small EDM concert last spring. Polls have failed to provide any alternative to this new formula, so in lieu of any concerted opinion from the student body, there seems to be no reason to change this trend.

Fall Fests garner impressive attendance, with some 8,000+ concertgoers at last year's Fall Fest featuring T.I. and Schoolboy Q. When compared to the much smaller numbers Electric Tundra, featuring Bingo Players and 3LAU, and Spring Fest 2015, which hosted Young the Giant; Banks; In the Valley Below; Bear Hands and The Royal Tongues, pulled 3,700 and 4,500 respectively, it seems like rap and hip-hop acts are the way to go.

But the reason for this disparity lies in the popularity of the acts SA brings in. Fall Fest tends to feature more widely-known artists who draw larger crowds than the non-rap shows. Spring Fest 2014’s country lineup of The Band Perry, Gloriana and Citizen Cope drew only 2,500 people. The considerably larger attendance numbers of Fall Fests seems much more like a predestined outcome in this light.

These acts don't come cheap either. Last year's Fall Fest budget was just over $200,000, while Spring Fest got $161,000 and Electric Tundra operated on a measly $90,000. Are there no cheaper hip-hop acts? While this formula of varying genres across the three major concerts seems to have garnered support, there is no real reason that the order of the genres has to be set in stone. Prioritizing a different genre each year in the prime Fall Fest slot – the biggest possible bang to start off the school year – would allow for some variety in the big names that come through campus.

But straying away from rap and hip-hop could be a divisive move. While alternative music remains an option, it becomes harder to point toward sure-fire winners. Furthermore, Buffalo's local scene supports a fairly wide variety of alternative, rock, and EDM acts at venues such as the Town Ballroom and the Waiting Room. SA could argue that instead of splurging on a less-certain rock act for UB's Fall Fest, students could venture out to local venues for their alternative/rock fix.

The biggest issue remains the lack of any conclusive feedback. SA polls have proved wildly useless in the past in helping to identify what the campus wants, simply because students don’t respond. Last year's poll only had 1,119 students vote and a majority selected EDM. While the resulting Electric Tundra proved successful, the poll hardly helped SA figure out where to go with Fall Fest.

Though SA appears to have found a method that appeases the majority of the study body, it is still responsible for actively taking an interest in our own affairs. If you care about what acts headline Fall Fest, if you don't like the steady stream of rap artists, if you want your own genre to be represented, you have to step up. Email SA or participate in polls when they’re posted. Otherwise, we can expect the status quo to continue indefinitely.

Our editorial board can be reached at editorial@ubspectrum.com