Concerts at SDSU: Is anyone going?

Krista Tschetter

Krista Tschetter

For some SDSU students, an up-and-coming band like Phantom Planet may not be quite the big concert they were hoping for.

“I think they need to get a band that more people can appreciate or have heard,” says Kyle Anderson, a freshman nursing student.

But that’s not an easy feat for the University Program Council, who has fought an uphill battle in the last several years to bring in artists that a lot of students want to go see.

The Council, who organizes and promotes a variety of on-campus cultural events, concerts and other entertainment with money provided by student fees, has seen declining concert numbers since selling out a Sugar Ray/Orgy concert in 1999. Two years later, 3 Doors Down drew only about 2,300 concert-goers, 2,700 less than the previous. And last year’s Everclear/Sister Hazel concert sold only about 1,500 tickets.

Abby Bischoff, in charge of concerts for UPC, says it’s important to point out that Phantom Planet isn’t actually one of their “big concerts.” The event is just another semester event, albeit the biggest of the spring, comparable to last semester’s Martin Luther King III speaking event. The semester events are paid for out of the council’s regular funds. Big concerts, however, are paid for through an entirely separate fund that has to be replenished through ticket sales. Lackluster ticket sales mean the council has less money to work with during the next go-round.

“What the student’s don’t really understand, is that when they don’t come to these concerts, the fund doesn’t get replenished,” Bischoff says.

“The moral of the story is even if you don’t like the concert, come anyway, it’ll pay off in the long run.”

Adam Karnopp, UPC advisor, says that there are other factors that hinder the group from bringing in huge name acts.

“I think there’s about three or four different things,” Karnopp says.

“One, the artist’s prices are insane … to get anybody that has massive appeal.”

He also points out that Brookings’ location in between big concert cities like Omaha, Neb., and Minneapolis, Minn., deters acts from wanting to come here.

“Geography doesn’t help us either,” he says.

The council has tried for such big acts in the past.

Last year they put a bid in for the Dave Matthews Band.

“We had an offer out to him, but their artist price is so high and our campus isn’t big enough, or in the right place,” Bischoff says.

“Sure, Dave Matthews would sell, it just costs so much to bring him here.”

She says that big country acts, which would appeal to many SDSU students, are even higher priced.

“There are a lot of country music fans so they can get premium prices for their tickets.”

Within the resources she had to work with, Bischoff thinks Phantom Planet is a good quality band.

The Council has already met it’s goal of pre-selling at least 300 tickets.

Bischoff says several factors played into choosing the band.

“We did some polls on KSDJ and committee members polled some people in their classes,” she says.

Other top contenders were Switchfoot, Blessed Union of Souls and Finch, bands popular on college radio. Bischoff thought Phantom Planet’s “California” being featured as the theme song of “The O.C.” made them current and would sell some tickets.

Bischoff adds that bringing in up-and-coming acts could promote a music scene in Brookings.

“In the Midwest there’s really no college that has a reputation for being ahead of the game (with the) music scene,” Bischoff says.

“But Skinner’s brings in some good people, and hopefully with expanding enrollment, people will want to see these up-and-coming artists, not just big mainstream artists. That’s my dream.”