The first time Edward Goldschmid, a sophomore communication major, went to the UB Tailgate Concert Series last year, he felt out of place.
The ratio of adults to college students was, as he put it, “mind-blowing.”
He gave the series another chance this year and the results were nearly the same.
“I haven’t been to many, but the ones that I have been to, I didn’t have that much fun at,” Goldschmid said. “It was a huge older crowd and I kind of felt out of place.”
The Tailgate Concert Series, a free UB Athletics-sponsored concert held roughly two hours before home football games, often brings in a mix of oldies, country and cover bands that don’t always attract students.
Todd Garzarelli, senior associate athletic director for external affairs, said it’s a balancing act between finding an affordable act and an act that can appease to both the older crowd and student crowd.
“You don’t want to overspend on it,” he said. “We’re trying to attract the students and the general public. You build a vibrant pregame atmosphere. So we don’t want to overspend on it because it’s not our primary focus of the day. It’s really the football game … A family-friendly atmosphere.”
Still, Garzarelli views the third installment of the Concert Series this season as a success.
“I think each year, we continue to build on the previous year and continue to grow it with different amenities we offer on game day with the Concert Series,” Garzarelli said.
Garzarelli, who oversees the communications, ticket sales and promotions for UB Athletics, did not have the exact costs and attendance of the concerts immediately available.
But he said there was a “nice increase” in attendance from the first year of the Concert Series to the second year, and a “modest increase” from the second year to the third year.
Garzarelli said the program isn’t spending “as much as you think” on the Concert Series and states that the focus is more on a “family-friendly atmosphere.”
Some of the acts have been cover bands like Rumours and oldie bands like KC and the Sunshine Band. Garzarelli said KC and the Sunshine Band was a popular band for homecoming last month because the alumni from the ’70s and ’80s were appeased.
But one genre has begun to take over the Concert Series: country.
Three of the six scheduled acts this year – Old Dominion, Thompson Square and Eric Paslay – are country artists. According to Garzarelli, Buffalo’s appeal as a whole for country music is roughly 65-70 percent.
But UB students may not think the same way.
David Brunette, a senior exercise science major, isn’t a country fan, but he “doesn’t mind it” and said the genre is “growing on him,” due to exposure to it from the concerts. He said he thinks the Tailgate Concert Series is more geared toward the adults that come to the game rather than the students.
Garzarelli said each year UB Athletics screens students and have “dialogue” with them before signing acts to a contract. Garzarelli said the department asks members of True Blue, student-athletes and the overall student body for perspective and opinion.
Before officially signing artists, UB Athletics goes through a process that analyzes their possible acts, inquiring about ticket sales, recent success and overall likeability.
“A lot of what we brought in is that if you look at the photos, what we brought in appeals to the students,” Garzarelli said. “They may not be familiar with the band, but a lot of weddings, a lot of songs that they hear when they’re out and about in the community are coming from those individual bands.”
But Goldschmid, like Brunette and other UB students, would like to see a change. Goldschmid is not a fan of country music and would like to see some variety in the acts. They are both not fans of country music, despite the country upswing. Possible acts Goldschmid would like to see would be ’90s alternative acts and possibly hip-hop, even though the latter is unlikely.
Brunette just wants to see variety.
“Maybe more of a balance,” Brunette said. “Everything seems to be like old-disco, which is great, but they need more of a balance. You throw country in there, maybe some alternative.”
Garzarelli said there will be a fourth installment of the Concert Series next season and the hunt for acts has already begun, but UB Athletics cannot set the concert schedule until next season’s football schedule is set in place.
Next season’s homecoming act has been narrowed down to certain artists, but they have not been announced.
Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.