4/2/15 – Medford/Somerville, MA – Concert Board chairs Katie Kurtz and Matthew Marber hold their weekly meeting to discuss Spring Fling on Thursday, Apr. 2, 2015. (Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily)

‘Powerhouse female lineup’ set to take Spring Fling stage

Pop artist Kesha is scheduled to headline this year’s Spring Fling concert on April 25. Her performance will follow opening acts Lion Babe, an R&B artist, and MisterWives, a former ’80s cover band.

It is no accident that women are dominating this year’s lineup, Concert Board Co-Chairs Matt Marber and Katie Kurtz explained. When looking at previous Spring Fling lineups, they said they noticed a historical lack of female representation.

Marber noted that Spring Fling has not seen a female headliner, or even female performers, in the last 20 years.

“We knew we had to change that,” he said. “We don’t want another male artist, we don’t want another rap artist, we want something female, fresh and fun.”

Immediately following Cage Rage in November, Concert Board established its goal to book a female lineup, the co-chairs, both juniors, explained.

“We set out from the beginning, not just to have a female headliner, but we wanted this powerhouse female lineup,” Kurtz stated.

She mentioned that previous co-chairs have tried to book female acts, noting the difficulty in finding “big-enough named” female artists in an affordable range.

“It’s so hard to find a woman who is touring and in our price range, so people have looked at opening acts, they’ve looked at female-fronted bands … Last year, the co-chairs tried for Azealia Banks, but [were] told that she’s too hard to handle,” Kurtz said. She added that when she and Marber were first-years, “Kesha came up in conversation, and one of the talking points was that we can’t book her because we’ve heard she’s ‘rough’ hospitality-wise, which is a story based on nothing. How would we ever know that? It’s just things that we were told to deter us from booking females.”

Assistant Director for Campus Life Ashley Tello, who acts as staff advisor for Concert Board, noted similar stigmas toward women in the music industry and said she fully supports Concert Board’s decision to solidify a female lineup.

“I think female artists in general get a lot of trouble from the music industry,” she said. “They are disrespected a lot, or music isn’t very woman-friendly as an industry as a whole, so I thought it was really important for them to make that decision for the right reasons in saying that we support women as musicians, and we support the women on campus that are going to be at the show.”

Along with its initial $100,000 budget allocated at the beginning of the year for Spring Fling performers by the Tufts Community Union (TCU), Concert Board received an additional $25,000 in supplementary funding from the TCU Allocations Board to ensure a “fuller lineup,” Marber said. He noted that Concert Board also received another $25,000 from a re-allocation of funds within Programming Board, initially intended to finance the Fall Gala tent, which was not rented because the event was moved inside the Gantcher Center.

Marber said that while planning the lineup, Concert Board informally surveyed the student population to determine its genre preferences. He said that most people surveyed preferred a headliner in the pop/hip-hop genre.

The co-chairs organized performances act-by-act, beginning with the headliner and continuing onto the opening acts, Kurtz said.

According to Marber, Concert Board works through a middle agent at Pretty Polly Productions to organize contracts with the performers’ agencies. He said that in late November, the co-chairs reached out to the agent to maximize the options for female headliners.

Marber noted that all of the artists on the agent’s initial list were either too well-known — and therefore out of the group’s budget — or not known at all. He said that the agent would periodically update the list, and the co-chairs would check it regularly throughout their search for a headliner at the end of the fall semester.

“We saw a new chunk of names were added, and in the middle of it was Kesha, and we were like ‘that’s it,’” he said.

Kurtz said that she and Marber immediately responded to ask for more information about pricing and availability, and that upon the agent’s response, they decided to put a bid in to have her perform.

Kurtz and Marber said that waiting for a confirmation from Kesha took much longer than expected, as the deadline for response kept getting pushed back. Marber noted that this anticipation was especially troublesome while trying to organize the rest of the lineup.

In the last week of January, the co-chairs received confirmation that Kesha would headline Spring Fling, Kurtz said.

“From the get-go, having positive female representation in our lineup was super important, and given the options that we had, we had so much hope for Kesha,” she explained. “And so when the show was confirmed with her as the headliner, it was just like ‘everything is starting to come together, and it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen for us, and for the school and to change what the norm has been so far.’”

After Kesha’s performance was confirmed, the co-chairs set out to book the opening acts.

Marber noted that the middle agent initially recommended booking MisterWives to perform at Cage Rage, but that Concert Board was not interested at the time. But when another Concert Board member suggested MisterWives as a Spring Fling opener, the co-chairs decided to reconsider. He noted that after reaching out to the band, the group immediately responded that it was available and that it was in the co-chairs’ optimal price range.

She noted that by that point, the co-chairs were working with limited funds, so they accepted that few members of the student body would have name recognition with the third artist. They were not satisfied with the initial list provided by the middle agent, but upon following up, the middle agent suggested Lion Babe to open the concert. Within the first three seconds of the first Lion Babe video they watched, they said they were sold on her and asked the middle agent to submit their final bid.

The co-chairs remarked that they think they made the right choices, noting positive feedback they have received from the student body.

“Everybody that I’ve talked to who’s put the effort in to look up the artists in the lineup that they don’t know, whether that be MisterWives or Lion Babe, has been very excited to find out who they are,” Kurtz said.

This year, Concert Board decided to announce the lineup via a Snapchat Geofilter, a concept that first came up in a Programming Board meeting. The co-chairs worked with Concert Board Production Assistant Benjamin Averill, a sophomore, to create a design to submit to Snapchat.

In the past, the lineup has been announced at Battle of the Bands, though Marber noted that two years ago, news of the headliner leaked, so Concert Board had to scramble to announce it at a campus event.

Kurtz noted that, to avoid leaking, Averill and the co-chairs were the only three students who were allowed to know about the proposed lineup.

According to Marber, after the first design submission was rejected, the team submitted two more designs and developed an alternate release plan through Concert Board’s own Snapchat account.

“We had people add us on Snapchat,Kurtz said. “We plan on using it during the concert to give backstage snaps, because we thought that would be pretty cool. And we figured we’d have it if, in the worst-case scenario, we really had no other way to announce.”

Fortunately, at about 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, the co-chairs received an email that the Geofilter had been approved, according to Marber. It went live at midnight on Friday, March 27.

According to Kurtz, Concert Board members also generated anticipation by putting up posters with the group’s personal Snapchat code and with various images that were vaguely linked to the performers.

“We wanted to have as much hype as possible, but we wanted to keep the actual names of the artists so far away from the rumor mill, that when it dropped, people were shocked,” Kurtz explained.

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10 Responses

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  1. Tweedle Dee
    Apr 06, 2015 - 02:05 PM

    I appreciate the need to have a female headliner, but I would have preferred to wait until a good act was available. We could have done a lot better than Ke$/sha

  2. Anon
    Apr 06, 2015 - 02:18 PM

    So, we have a hundred thousand dollars to throw a ridiculous Spring Fling, but we spend it on 3 female musicians/music groups not because they’re good but because they’re female? A better option would be to pick the most popular or most desirable artist that we could afford (whether it was a man or a woman or a group), not just picking Kesha because she’s a woman. This is a perfect example of the controversial logic employed by a small (but loud) portion of our student body: we’ve picked an artist not because of her talents but because of her gender, and now a large portion of the student body is pissed that their money was used with the mentality of “let’s 100% have a female headliner.” Looking back, I think that Concert Board messed up by 1) picking an ALL-female lineup (because, to me, it’s been illustrated as “screw the concert aspect, feminism is the point of spring fling”) and 2) advertising the fact that the all-female lineup was intentional. I have absolutely nothing against females or female artists, but I am opposed to this type of logic and hate that our campus can never be satisfied with what we have because we feel the constant necessity to critique race/gender/all the other forms of identity that exist. It doesn’t always have to be about that, and not even the far-left liberals on campus agree that Kesha was a good choice. All in all, I’m disappointed.

    • Kesha
      Apr 08, 2015 - 10:55 AM

      A huge portion of the campus is incredibly excited about Kesha. We will never have an artist that every students is happy with. Stop whining and accept that there are 4 concerts during your time at Tufts and at least one of them might be an artists that isn’t your personal favorite.

      • Anon
        Apr 08, 2015 - 12:48 PM

        It’s not about favorites; it’s about the flawed methodology we used in picking this lineup.

  3. Concerned Tufts Student
    Apr 06, 2015 - 02:53 PM

    I dont know about this but seems to me there is no hip hop act at all. Says alot about the Tufts Community.

    • Albino Squirrel
      Apr 07, 2015 - 08:34 AM

      oh, don’t beat around the bush, tell us exactly what you really think it means – i can’t stand that crap. it literally makes me ill. if i want music (actual music, with real instruments, and words i can understand) appropriated from black culture, i’ll choose some rock and roll, thanks.

      • scastro87
        Apr 09, 2015 - 01:13 PM

        If the rappers are black, are they appropriating black culture? I’m so confused. It’s very problematic that you don’t consider Hip-Hop/Rap real music.

    • jumbo
      Apr 08, 2015 - 10:55 AM

      Yep! It says that for the past 3 years we have had a hip hop artists and they want to mix it up a bit.

  4. James
    Apr 07, 2015 - 11:41 AM

    Kesha is a very talented performer who is a big advocate for animal rights and many other charities. She writes a lot of her own songs and actually has an amazing voice. I saw her in concert with average expectations. She rocked it. She sang live the whole show, danced her heart out and got the crowd pumped. She is actually very intelligent too. She had very high SAT scores and was going to go to Columbia University before getting famous. I think focusing on the positive things she has done would set a better example for her and other artists to continue to do good. Tufts will have a blast with her performing.

  5. literably
    Apr 11, 2015 - 01:16 PM

    It’s a shame that female artists aren’t well-represented enough to make up half of the available acts to events like this, but it also feels strange to wish that more female artists were irrelevant enough to be available for events like this.

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