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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, June 16, 2024

Spring fling: a tradition continues

DiBiaggio-SpringFling
Former Tufts president John DiBiaggio celebrates Spring Fling in 1993.

Since Spring Fling kicked off in 1980, when it was headlined by Pousette-Dart Band and opened by the Beelzebubs and the Willie Nininger Band, a host of great artists have brought their music to the hill.

“We’re putting together a show, not an act," Matt Marber, co-chair of Concert Board, said. "We want to put together a show that people will love from start to finish."

Other notable past Spring Flings include the 1993 show, which featured Violent Femmes, The Lemonheads and Digable Planets, and the 1998 lineup, which included LL Cool J and Less than Jake. T.I. and Lupe Fiasco performed in 2007, and Dropkick Murphys in 2008; other recent acts include DrakeNelly and Childish Gambino.

“We change the show and logistics based on the year before because that’s the only benchmark that we have,” Ashley Tello, Assistant Director for Campus Life and staff advisor to programming board, said.

Katie Kurtz, concert board's other co-chair, said that she and Marber often deal with many aspects of coordinating the show themselves.

“[We] handle everything that can only be done person-to-person when you need to have actual conversation[s], send emails [and] make phone calls," Kurtz said. "Because booking artists is very fast, you have to go back and forth so you can’t always have a group making a decision, which means that it ultimately comes down to the two of us.”

Marber further explained the process of bidding for an artist.

“How the process works is that we start out with a budget of talent, funded by TCU," he said. "We receive funding for talent and funding for production costs. Just for talent, we factor in what we think the student body would want as an overall lineup.”

According to Marber, operations in the music industry work by way of connections, trust and reputation.

“We don’t communicate directly with the artists," he said. "We have a middle agent and we tell him what we’re looking for. He gives us a list of artists with prices. Then we’ll put in a formal bid and he’ll put in a bid with the agency for booking.”

Kurtz explains that the process is centralized because working with artists necessitates quick responses.

"The reason why this can’t be a school-wide process and it has to be the two of us is because deals happen so fast," Kurtz said. "We can’t send out a poll every time an artist rejects us and we’re trying to be as inclusive as possible and unfortunately we can’t make the entire student population happy.”

Tello added that budgeting concerns present another challenge.

“People think that you can put in a bid for anyone that has a song out there," she said. "They don’t understand the actual amount that people cost. We’re always mindful of staying in our budget because we want to be responsible with students' money.”

Marsha Alperin graduated from Jackson College, Tufts' college for women between 1910 and 1955, in 1981. She recalls a Spring Fling that is similar in many ways to this weekend's, but different in others.

"It was mostly one big party in the back yard of the President's house, and it was live music all day and lots of fun," she said in an email to the Daily. "I have great pictures of friends from all classes hanging out dancing ... and no one ended up in the ER."

During her time at university, the U.S. drinking age was just 18.

"Everyone was able to drink and the flow of alcohol was in the open," she said.

The administration’s response to Spring Fling has changed since the '80s. Tello remarked how past administrations focused on making the concert itself safe, while the new administration is focusing on making the entire day safe for all students.

“We are especially mindful of the freshmen who [have] heard about Spring Fling all year and don’t know what to expect," Tello said. "The administration is trying to change the culture that you can wake up at 7 a.m. and drink more than you usually would. Why wouldn’t you just drink the amount that you usually do?”

She added that the change in the administration’s response stems from their awareness of the social climate on Spring Fling.

“Because of Yik Yak and other social media, the administration knows what’s going on and we’re focusing on individual overconsumption of alcohol," she said.

FromAlperin's time up to a few years ago, students could bring alcohol into the show as long as they registered the alcohol beforehand. Since alcohol has been banned from the venue, Tello explained that the safety of students has increased dramatically.

"The challenge is that we have the funnest show possible but also the safest one possible," she said. "I do a lot of risk management, which is difficult to do considering that we have over 6,000 people attending the show.”

Marber and Kurtz agreed, pointing out the potential risks.

“People think that if they’re getting TEMS’d it’s going to be fine," Marber said. "The reality is that you’re going to be in the middle of 6,000 people and if something happens it's really agonizing to see. Nobody knows that it happens but it's scary and we just want to say that it happens and we want [students] to be safe.”

He added that he didn't want Spring Fling to be the next in a series of Tufts traditions to be axed due to safety concerns, like the Naked Quad Run.

“We don’t want to see another tradition disappear,” he said.

This year's headliner, Kesha, was confirmed earlier this semester. Among concert board's goals this year was to book a female performer.

“We confirmed Kesha in the middle of January, which is pretty late, all things considered," Kurtz said. "We put in our bid for her early December, and the deadline to hear back was pushed back twice. Everyone advising us suggested moving on and looking elsewhere because we would run out of time to put together a show if we waited too long. However, we didn’t find anyone else that was within our price range, female and was a fit for what we were trying to ... accomplish.”

Kurtz added that Kesha's popularity will allow students to enjoy the concert more.

“We expect that what happen[ed] with Nelly happens again -- that you’ll know 75 percent of the words to all of the songs and you’ll be able to sing and dance to them with your friends to something that’s fun, fresh and female,” she said.