BY: DALE JOHNSON
Bands play at Cal State Long Beach on a weekly basis. Every Wednesday, there is a stage set up below the Beach Walk (right below where Quiznos is) where bands play. Up-and-coming artists often take a stop off of their busy tour schedules to play the intimate confines of the Nugget.Wait, who am I kidding? No band that has played our school in my time at CSULB is a group anybody has ever heard of. And while we walk to class wondering who this no-name band is that is playing so loud that we need to turn our iPods up to max volume to block out the music, nearly every other major school in Southern California is treated to weekly concerts as well as an annual large scale music festival with-get this-real bands and artists playing them.
Don't get me wrong. I am all for exposure for up-and-coming artists, but that does not mean that smaller bands can't be balanced out by performances featuring music that is known by people other than the band members themselves.
One only has to travel down the 91 freeway to UC Riverside for a successful model of how to pull off a college music festival. On Feb. 23, UCR's second annual Heat Festival is taking place with a lineup full of great music. The concert will include live performances from 311, Mos Def, Circa Survive, Moby, Clipse, Girl Talk and many more across multiple stages.
With the amount of talent that is set to perform at UCR's festival, the $42.50 ticket price seems reasonable. But the real deal maker is that UCR students get in free. The cost is taken out of their student fees.
Schools like UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego and Cal State Fullerton have similar festivals with high-profile bands and artists, all at no cost to their students. UCSD's Sun God Festival has seen headliners such as Ludacris, My Chemical Romance, Busta Rymes, Gwen Stefani, Social Distortion and most recently T.I. UCSB's annual concert was headlined last year by Mickey Avalon and T.I.
Not only do we have a larger student body than most of these schools (nearly 20,000 more students than UCSB and 10,000 more than are enrolled at UCSD), the amount we pay in student fees is much higher than what any of these other schools pay, yet we don't see any benefit from our fees. UCSD students pay $21 for the Sun God Festival and other events throughout the year, and we pay $44 a year for our very limited amount of entertainment.
With more student fees and more students, why are we not seeing our money being put to a better use? The $44 we pay each semester is not an optional fee, yet we have little to no say in what our money is spent on. Lack of space is not an issue, with countless open spaces where a festival could take place, and The Pyramid would be a perfect venue for concerts if it were put to use.
Better use of our students fees would create a more tightly knit and enjoyable campus. Guest speakers, comedy shows, live music acts and other entertainment on campus would help make CSULB more than just a place where students go to class.
And try as the school may, it doesn't seem like the increased amount of coffee shops is doing much to help the school shake its commuter school label. CSULB needs to give students a valid reason to stay on campus, and weekly concerts by bands students actually know, particularly an annual festival of popular music, would not only create a reason for students to stick around campus but also provide opportunities to create relationships beyond standard classroom acquaintances.
A major step towards this would be a big-name music festival like the ones so many other college campuses around us have staged. With higher enrollment and more expensive student fees, this type of concert is seemingly feasible. If students begin to demand a similar musical festival, maybe we can finally get a piece of the pie.