By Allie Ward
Hoping to put last semester’s “plain white tease” in the past, the Student Entertainment Council (SEC) has booked rising reggae fusion singer Sean Kingston to headline the fall concert on Oct. 22.
Back in April, rock band Plain White T’s were scheduled to headline the spring concert. However, lead singer Tom Higgenson got sick the night of the show, and the band was unable to perform. Students had to settle for opening acts Danger Radio and Single File.
“With [Plain White T’s], when things didn’t turn out the way we envisioned, I still couldn’t have been any more proud of my kids than I was,” said Nick Barbati, coordinator of campus activities and adviser to SEC. “It was an expertly put-together concert from their end.”
According to Barbati, a campus-wide survey is always distributed to see what genre of music students would like to see in concert. Last year, although Plain White T’s were selected as the headliner, the top vote-getter was actually the hip-hop/R&B genre.
“We just couldn’t find a [hip-hop/R&B] name at the time that would’ve drawn students and really been effective for a college campus,” Barbati said. “That’s how we ended up with Plain White T’s. They weren’t our first choice.”
Nevertheless, it’s a new year and SEC is bringing back the fall concert — the last concert held in the fall was Howie Day in 2005. Barbati explained that this isn’t done purposely.
“A couple years ago, we realized that programming needed to have a more uplifting feel, so we focused a lot of our energy on comedians and last year there was a heavy emphasis on multicultural programming, and we didn’t focus so much on concerts,” Barbati said. “In recognizing that and recognizing that there was such excitement over [Plain White T’s] and it didn’t happen, it’s better to make those things right early on.”
SEC students are “totally thrilled” that such a big name will be headlining the fall concert this year. “Beautiful Girls,” Kingston’s first hit single off his self-titled debut album, earned him a 2007 Teen Choice Award for R&B Track. His second album, Tomorrow, dropped in September. The lead single, “Fire Burning,” was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Song.
Opening acts will be Nina Sky and Livvi Franc. Nina Sky is a dance-pop/R&B duo of twin sisters whose sophomore album Starting Today (formerly titled The Musical) is due out later this month. Livvi Franc is an R&B pop singer from England. She is currently working on her debut album and has collaborated with producers RedOne (Lady Gaga) and JR Rotem (Rihanna).
The concert is scheduled for a Thursday night, something that has many students upset. Barbati said the scheduling of concerts has more to do with time and space, rather than with attendance in the past.
“It’s a matter of space; we have to be able to reserve any space the day before, the day of and the day after,” Barbati said. “We’re really putting a damper on a lot of activities on campus, so while this is a really well-turned-out event, there are of course the gives and takes on the campus. When we had Jason Mraz on a Thursday, we had, for the most part, the same turnout we had with Gym Class Heroes on a Saturday.”
The option of still having a spring concert is not yet out, according to Barbati. If, after evaluating the success of this show, SEC and the university feel that the money would be better spent on a big-name comedian or speaker, then that may be arranged. Yet, the money could very well end up going toward another concert.
The concert is only open to Rider students this year, to keep the cost of the event down, said Barbati. Most students are excited about having a big-name performer like Sean Kingston headline.
“When I first heard that Sean Kingston was performing, I was pretty excited that someone who has recently made it so big was coming to such a small school,” said sophomore Brittany Holowka. “I’m a little upset that we can’t bring any guests.”
Others thought SEC could have booked a different artist that appeals to a wider variety of students.
“I was kind of disappointed when I heard Sean Kingston was performing,” said sophomore Caroline Quan. “I don’t listen to too many songs of his, but the songs I have heard from him are pretty good. I will most likely attend because he is famous and everyone knows him, and it should be fun anyway.”
Sophomore Emily Harris summed up what, perhaps, everyone on campus is thinking.
“I’m really excited for the concert,” she said. “Hopefully, he will show up.”
The fall concert will be held Thursday, Oct. 22 in the Student Recreation Center. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with the show scheduled to start at 8. The concert is free for Rider students. No guests allowed. Tickets are available at both the Lawrenceville and Westminster ticket booths.