As the last of the snow melts on the quad and the birds reluctantly return to Brunswick, students are starting to close their eyes and imagine the infamous and quickly-approaching Ivies weekend. Picture it now'65 degree temperatures, all of your friends together in one place, Nalgene in hand?and a downpour of rain.
These poorly-timed April showers, while arguably essential for the growth of May flowers, have almost unfailingly forced the festivities of Ivies indoors during recent years.
Bear AIDS, the outdoor spring concert traditionally held on the Saturday of Ivies weekend, has suffered the most due to bad weather, since while college students can don raingear and continue to celebrate, the electrical equipment required for a concert cannot sustain the moisture of a rainstorm. Although bad weather simply means moving the stage and bands to dryer ground, holding a spring music festival inside Smith Union just doesn't have the same feel.
"It's dangerous to have such a big production dependent on the weather," said Eric Penley '05, a Head Co-Chair of the Campus Activities Board, the student group that organizes Bear AIDS each spring. For this reason, the A-Board has decided to change the traditional lay-out of concerts this semester by scaling down Bear AIDS in exchange for a much larger concert earlier in April.
"The weather can potentially ruin the concert," said Jason Tsoutsouras '07, Co-Chair of the A-Board's 'Concerts and Comedy' committee. With this in mind, the A-Board has shifted the majority of its concert funding from Bear AIDS to a much larger concert to be held this weekend on Saturday, April 9. With the extra funds, the College was able to attract Reel Big Fish, a well-known punk-ska band hailing from Southern California. Without reduction Bear AIDS funding, such a popular band would never have accepted a bid to play at Bowdoin.
"Since most schools have a Spring Fling the same weekend, big bands will choose to perform at other schools that can guarantee a larger audience and more funds," said Fariha Mahmud '06, also a Co-Chair of 'Concerts and Comedy.'
"If your band is going to be playing a spring weekend, why play in Maine?" agreed Penley. "Our location is really not advantageous."
Bowdoin has found it difficult to attract large bands to Brunswick until now, since the college is a smaller venue than most other colleges and far from a decent-sized city. However, by holding the college's large concert a few weeks earlier than other schools, the A-Board was able to secure a much bigger name for a show not dependent on the weather.
For those wary of attending a Bear AIDS without music, have no fear?there will still be live music on the quad for the entire afternoon. In fact, while the college has opted not to attract big-name bands for the Ivies weekend concert, the bands selected will offer a much larger variety of music than in past years. Bands include an Indie Rock group called Phantom Buffalo, the campus band The List Exists, and DJ Daryl McLean '07, a regular attraction at the pub.
The headliner for Bear AIDS is "The Awesome," an 80s cover band out of Portland that plays music by David Bowie, Micheal Jackson, The Clash, and, Duran Duran, to name a few.
"The focal point of the act is definitley lead singer Mike Taylor, whose ability to mimic both 80s classics and cheesy one hit wonders is uncanny," said Tucker Hodgkins '05.
To compensate for changes in Bear AIDS, the Campus Activities Board plans to add new activities to the standard inflatables and slip-n-slide. Members are currently looking into renting a dunking booth for the afternoon.
While the unpredictable weather was a main factor when changing this year's concert schedule, A-Board members were also weary of holding the concert in the name of AIDS research when recently, so little money has been raised through Bear AIDS.
Proceeds from Bear AIDS have traditionally been donated to Merrymeeting AIDS Support Services, with money coming mainly from T-Shirt sales at the event. However, since students rarely carry money with them during Ivies Weekend, if ever, the event usually never raises more than a few hundred dollars for the foundation.
"The amount of money we generally make has been very low," said Mahmud, "so we're debating outlets on other weekends when we could collect."
Tsoutsouras agreed, saying they hope to "collect money on a day when people are more open to listening."
This is not the first time that changes have been made to Ivies weekend. In past years, Bear AIDS started in the late morning, with A-Board members setting up for bands as early as 9:00 a.m. Last year, the board opted for a later starting time, with music beginning in the early afternoon. The change was a success, especially since A-Board members "didn't feel so consumed about keeping people's attention for hours," according to Mahmud.
Until Saturday night's Reel Big Fish show and Bear Aids are complete, A-Board members do not know whether this change will be permanent.
"At the end of this year, we'll reevaluate and choose what path to take for next year," Tsoutsouras said.
"It's my guess that people won't see much of a difference," said Penley. "Bear AIDS is more about the atmosphere than the music."