By Julia Ernst
Text messages started flying around 7:30 p.m. last night. Cell phones started ringing, and people lined up outside the Student Recreation Center (SRC) started buzzing with confusion and frustration.
“The lead singer of Plain White T’s is ill and he is unable to perform tonight,” said Dave Keenan, director of campus life, announcing the cancellation of the band’s appearance.
The band was formally named as the headliner for the annual Student Entertainment Council Spring Concert last month after weeks of debate and discussion among students. The total cost to put the show on was “20-something thousand,” said Keenan, who added that Plain White T’s had not yet been paid, and that contractual matters were going to be discussed later.
“We’ll be working with that over the next few days,” he said. “We have to sit down with the contract and go through it to see what will be paid and what won’t be paid.”
No details were available as to the nature of lead singer Tom Higgenson’s illness. Plain White T’s are scheduled to appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight. The band has released five CDs in its nine-year career and garnered a Grammy nomination for its hit “Hey There Delilah.”
“The band has been [on campus] all day, but he’s just not well enough to play,” said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell. “Everything was set up and they [had done] their sound check.”
About 700 $5 guest tickets had been sold for the concert, Campbell said, and several hundred Rider students were expected to pick up free tickets at the door. The SRC can hold up to 1,800 people when set up for a show like this.
But when the news was delivered, hundreds of students headed out. The crowd for opening act Single File dwindled to about 300.
“I’m really mad,” said sophomore Jamie Spampinato. “If this was at any other place, he would have sucked it up. He just said ‘whatever’ because it’s a small school.”
However, there were some students who hung around for the opening acts.
“I got there and everyone thought it was a giant joke,” said sophomore Joanna Grillo. “Everyone looked like they were having fun. The first band was really good.”
Though Plain White T’s did not play, the two openers — Single File and Danger Radio — still went on. According to Keenan, the students who were still left in the SRC were not terribly upset about the cancellation.
“The student reaction here has been very good,” he said after the announcement had been made. “I think the students understand.”
Neither Keenan nor Campbell was able to say for sure if the show was going to be rescheduled.
“SEC is going to try to reschedule, but at this point in time, I don’t know if it’s going to be possible,” Campbell said.
However, there were some students who weren’t planning on going, anyway, and didn’t really mind that the show had been canceled.
“I’m not pissed at all,” said junior Brett Raczynski. “I wasn’t even there. My friend told me. I guess I would have been upset if I had wanted to go, but I don’t like them, so I don’t care.”
But sophomore Sylvia Hyra “thought it was total crap” that the band canceled at the last minute.
“I really think he should have been able to sing unless he was on his death bed,” Hyra added. “One of our friends met them this morning and said they looked fine.”
Additional reporting by Allie Ward