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Indie pop and the odd man out: Music Fest 2018

Indie pop and the odd man out: Music Fest 2018

Hofstra Concerts’ annual Music Fest, held last Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., featured rides and performances from headliners PVRIS, Kirk Knight and Cruisr, with opening acts by Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties and The Last Great Kings. 

The afternoon festival kicked off with Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties, a solo project of Dan “Soupy” Campbell, who had to leave early to perform at another gig later that night with his band The Wonder Years. At Music Fest, Campbell performed a solo acoustic set. The visceral pared-down sound paralleled the day’s overcast skies and primed the audience for the following performers.

The Last Great Kings, who were slated to open first before Campbell’s last-minute schedule change, performed a half-hour set showcasing the bands tell-tale, twangy, indie rock sound.  

The Last Great Kings is comprised of Hofstra students. The group won Hofstra Concerts’ Battle of the Bands, an annual competition between student acts to open Music Fest. Lead singer Tommy O’Connor said, “It was an amazing experience. Being a smaller band, most of our shows are played in basements and small venues. So to be able to play on a festival stage with people working all around to help us sound great was something we’d never experienced before.”

Between the various bands and coordination with administration, Music Fest can be a long and arduous process for the student-run club behind it, Hofstra Concerts.

Francis DeFalco, the vice president of Hofstra Concerts and a junior business management, said, “Music Fest planning honestly starts the day after the previous Music Fest. We start talking about artists we like and would be good for the festival and speculate on whether or not it’s in our price range.”

Hofstra Concerts is the university’s most highly funded student organization, but in recent years with the increase in clubs on campus, funding for Concerts has had to be allocated to newer clubs.

The process of finding Music Fest performers takes a full year, with unexpected difficulties at every turn. “In late July to early August, we reach out to touring agencies who then provide us with quotes for artists in our price range,” DeFalco said. “Something difficult about this is that oftentimes, artist quotes will go up after we send them the initial offer, which can set us back about a month ... then by October and November, we start working with the agencies and Hofstra’s legal department to shape contracts and negotiate terms and sort out insurance paperwork.”

DeFalco expanded on Concerts’ process for announcing artists. “A lot of times the reason it takes us so long to announce is smaller artists don’t have insurance, or the agents handling the college booking are trainees and will move up to a different position, causing us to have our account moved to a new employee or someone who needs to be caught up on our event situation, again setting us back,” he said.

“This year OSLE has really helped us out in pushing this event along, especially within the legal department. Our advisor Denise Boneta [associate director for student leadership and engagement] really helped us to get the contracts signed, as we don’t have any direct contact with legal, so that we could at least have a few days before the event to publicly post our lineup.”

Despite the long wait for the lineup, Music Fest always seems to satisfy. From indie-pop band Cruisr, a former opener for The 1975, to Kirk Knight, who has performed and produced songs with Joey BadA$$ in the past, students seemed to enjoy the wide range of artists in attendance. 

The festival’s headliner, PVRIS, played an approximately 45-minute set with an additional encore. Lead drummer Brian MacDonald threw one of his drumsticks into the audience during the encore to end another successful year of Music Fest.

Charlotte Seay, a sophomore management major, said, “PVRIS’ energy from their performance was contagious and enchanting. I’m glad I was able to experience their sound for the first time live!”

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