Reel Big Fish and The Cool Kids are tentatively set to perform during Bowdoin's Ivies Weekend. The Entertainment Board (E-Board) announced this week that the two groups accepted bids to perform on May 1, 2010.
Lucas Delahanty '10, co-chair of the E-Board, stressed that because the bids are non-binding, the groups are not yet obligated to come.
"Their contracts will be completed over Winter Break," he said. "Nothing is final until the last contract has been signed by both parties. They send us a contract, we make amendments, send it back, and we [go back and forth] until everyone is satisfied. Then, and only then, are they guaranteed to come."
There is also an outstanding bid for the group Passion Pit, though when the Orient went to print the group had not responded to the E-Board's bid. E-Board Co-chair Chris Omachi '12 said that the current concert lineup depends on Passion Pit accepting the offer.
"If we get Passion Pit, then we will [have] our three artists for Ivies," he said. "If we don't get Passion Pit, then we are going to rethink the concert. We think that those two artists aren't sufficient enough without another big name. We plan on keeping The Cool Kids, but also submitting bids for Vampire Weekend or Phoenix."
The E-Board used a survey to gauge student opinion on a diverse list of artists. The survey was advertised in two e-mails and 982 students—approximately 57 percent of the student body—participated. Omachi said that he was satisfied with the results of the survey.
"The comments on the poll were very helpful and insightful," he said. "We devised a system for reading the poll by weighing the positive comments for an artist versus the negative comments for that artist, in addition to volume of feedback for that artist. We then ranked the results [and] based on availability and price, we chose Passion Pit, Fleet Foxes and Reel Big Fish. But Fleet Foxes were busy recording, so instead we submitted a bid for The Cool Kids."
While Delahanty acknowledged that some students might be unhappy with the E-board's selections, he noted that it is difficult to please everyone.
"Bowdoin has very ecclectic...and opinionated music tastes, which makes choosing hard," he said. "If people are dissatisfied, they should try to get in touch with us."
The format of the concert will differ from recent years, in that it will not feature a wildly well-known artist. Traditionally, a regionally popular group opened for an expensive, hyped-up, nationally prominent musician. Delahanty dubbed this the "all-your-eggs-in-one-basket format," given that the student body tends to judge the entire Ivies concert based on the performance of the big-name artist.
The change comes on the heels of two years of disappointing top-billed artists, Talib Kweli in 2008 and Sean Kingston in 2009. For example, in the aftermath of this year's Ivies concert, "Kingston, Kingston, Kingston" became a derisive catchphrase on campus thanks to a performance in which the rapper exhibited a preference for repeatedly chanting his own name instead of singing.
Delahanty said of Kingston: "Everyone was really excited for him, and then he got here and really shafted us...His act was extremely short and his backup vocal guy wasn't actually his backup; he did most of the singing instead of Sean. And Santigold, who wasn't really well-known at Bowdoin, kind of stole the day."
"I've found that very hyped-out acts...cost a lot of money, and they come here and are really here just for the money, rather than to perform," he added. "This year, the E-Board wants Ivies to be about the experience rather than about one big, brand-name event."
To avoid disappointing students again, the E-Board settled on what Omachi called "a small acts festival." Rather than splurging on a nationally popular act, the E-Board will split its roughly $65,000 Ivies budget between three moderately well-known groups.
"There was a good deal of support for the idea, and so that was why we chose it over having a big name," Omachi said. "With a small acts festival, we will go for a $35,000 band, a $20,000 one, and a $10,000 one."
In past years under the previous format, the big-name artist could command up to $50,000, with the smaller act receiving a sum in the $10,000 range. Despite recent cost cutting at the College, the 2010 Ivies budget will not be any smaller than last year's.