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DRAM to headline Spring Concert

The Spring Concert Committee has chosen Virginia-born rapper DRAM to headline this year’s festival, which will be held on Saturday, May 25. The decision was announced via the Spring Concert Facebook page on Monday, May 13. 

Alongside DRAM, other acts include student bands such as Battle of the Bands winners Algae and Dex Arbor and the Maple Street Kids, Minneapolis-based reggae and ska group Dred I Dread, pop artist CVBZ, Minneapolis-based husband and wife duo iLLism and singer/songwriter Gavin Turek. 

This year, the Spring Concert Committee was allocated $124,000 by the Carleton Student Association (CSA), an increase of $4,000 from last year’s budget. 

Miiko Taylor, SAO Assistant Director, noted that the “Student Activities Program Board (SAPB) requested more funding for this year’s Spring Concert to keep up with the cost of production—stage, audio, lights and staff—along with artist fees.”

Of this year’s budget, $60,000 was allocated to hiring artists. The rest was dedicated toward setting up tents and running the event. This is in line with the typical spending patterns regarding Spring Concert: half of the budget usually goes to artist fees and hospitality while the rest is directed towards production, equipment, security and other non-musical entertainment like food, snow cones, lawn games and fireworks.

DRAM (which stands for Doing Real Ass Music), was born Shelley Marshaun Massenburg-Smith. DRAM is best known for his song “Broccoli,” which hit number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and number one on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop songs chart. He was selected to headline after much deliberation by this year’s 11-person Spring Concert Committee.

“We began our search with hundreds of artists. Each week, we would slowly narrow down the list based on who was available on the date of Spring Concert—which canceled a lot of our top choices out—who fit within our budget and left enough money for opening acts, and who would provide a lit performance overall,” said Joy Onyeanu ’21, Chairperson of the Spring Concert Committee.

To assess performance value, the committee researched the artists in terms of performance, music and stage presence.

“The selection process relied heavily on YouTube videos of all suggested artists’ performances, looking out for a fun stage presence,” said Mayte Aldrett ’19, a member of the Spring Concert Committee. “We started with headliner decisions, which depends on who we can afford according to artists’ availabilities, which is provided by the agency that Student Activities Office (SAO) hires to get in contact with artists.”

“Our first candidate was Chloe x Halle, then Noname, then Hayley Kiyoko, then Teyana Taylor, then finally DRAM,” added Aldrett. “He was always part of the discussion, but we were also in search of an artist who gave a very active or intimate performance.” 

Adlrett also noted that DRAM has been a runner-up for the Spring Concert headliner for the past couple of years. While the committee was dedicated to securing an exciting headliner, they were also interested in making sure that the lineup is diverse and represents multiple genres.

“The selection process comes with discourse, and we discussed local, queer and women representation in the lineup. Our goal was to get a variety of genres that still offered a great time to all students,” said Aldrett. 

“This year, we have pop, we have reggae, we have hip hop, and we have electronic pop. We’ve tried to increase diversity of music,” added Taylor.

The Committee made diversity a priority for this year’s Spring Concert in response to student feedback from past years. The SAO continuously seeks to improve the Spring Concert experience year to year.

“Typically, after the concert we send out a survey to see what students liked, what students didn’t like and feedback that they have,” said Taylor. “One example is students saying they want more bands instead of solo artists. The other one is variety of music, not just having one genre.” 

Onyeanu, along with other members of the Committee, is excited and hopeful about this year’s headliner and overall concert.

“I think DRAM will be a fun upbeat headliner,” said Onyeanu. “He’ll definitely have everyone dancing and having a good time singing along to his songs.” 

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