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courtesy of Ben Folds
Singer-songwriter Ben Folds is scheduled to perform for Spring Weekend on Sat. April 25. Folds, known for top-40 hits like Brick and Rockin’ The Suburbs, will headline; the opening act is not yet decided.
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Twenty students in conjunction with the Student Activities Office have selected Ben Folds to headline this year’s Spring Weekend concert on Saturday, Apr. 25. Leading up to the main event will be a new festival and a series of events coordinated by student groups.

Ben Folds was chosen based on a November survey, in which participants were asked to rate ten groups and singers based on their likelihood of attendance. Jason Mraz received the greatest number of positive responses (72 percent), but was unavailable for the end-of-April date. Folds received the second highest number of positive votes, with 70 percent of respondents indicating they would possibly, probably, or definitely attend the Ben Folds concert.

“We’re excited about responding to the opinions of students,” said Joshua Velasquez ’08, who is in charge of publicity for Spring Weekend.

However, in an unscientific survey of students on the first floor of the Student Center on a Thursday night, most students had never heard of Ben Folds or were indifferent to his pending performance.

“I’m a fan of his music”, said Ted Tomlinson ’09, “but I just don’t think it lends itself to being performed live.”

An opening act has not been chosen, but the planning team expects its selection to reach a different audience than Ben Folds.

The online poll was advertised to both the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council, who forwarded it to their constituents, but response was primarily undergraduate (938 out of 1,015 students). Velasquez was happy with the participation, but he conceded that the planning committee could have better advertised the survey to the graduate student community.

Within the survey, participants could apply to join the Spring Weekend Action Team, which was responsible for planning the weekend’s event. Eager to acquire as much student input and help as possible, the SAO invited all those interested to serve on the team or volunteer for the event. The SAO continues to welcome additional volunteers.

Pre-Concert Festival Added

While the Spring Weekend concert has been an MIT tradition for decades, this will be the first year the weekend will include a pre-concert festival. Those involved in planning the event wanted to reach out to more students, especially those who may not be interested in attending the concert. The specifics of the festival have not been worked out yet, but the event will be free.

“We’re trying to make it bigger and better, with more groups involved,” Velasquez said.

Initial proposals for the event included replacing the main concert with a large, outdoor musical event. But, the proposals were scrapped because of weather concerns. Instead, they are hoping to attract student groups as well as community organizations and businesses to provide food and entertainment for the festival, which would take place during the day on Saturday, Apr. 25. For example, event organizers are considering asking student a cappella groups to perform.

“We have the basic idea, but the committee is still open to suggestions,” said Student Activities Assistant Director Alicia Erwin.

The Fierce Forever 8 student drag show and Alpha Chi Omega’s annual Lip Sync competition will occur in the days prior to the concert, on Apr. 23 and Apr. 24 respectively. Imobilare will also host a break dancing workshop on Friday and then their annual Breakonomics competition on Saturday.

The price of bringing Ben Folds to MIT is $50,000, which is drawn from Student Life fees paid by students. Funding for the opening act will be limited to a maximum of $20,000. In addition to paying for the acts, Student Life fees are also going toward paying the cost of the festival, which has not been determined, and subsidizing tickets to the concert. Tickets to attend the concert, which can host up to 4,000 people, will cost $15 for MIT students and $25 for MIT affiliates, guests of MIT students, and non-MIT students. Tickets will not be available to the general public. They go on sale Thursday, March 5, for MIT students only; others will not be able to purchase tickets until after Spring Break.

With the opening act and the festival still being worked out, the Student Activities Office continues to solicit student feedback at sw-ideas@mit.edu.