Last Friday marked the fourth anniversary of FredFest — MIT’s largest outdoor concert — held in East Campus courtyard.
Joseph F. Graham Jr., East Campus house manager and primary FredFest manager, estimated about 200–300 people present at any given time, and up to 500 people to have passed through during the course of the evening. Two students who attended the concert said at least 50 students were present during the time they were there.
“The freshmen this year were especially energized,” noted Thomas J. Delaney, East Campus housemaster.
Featured bands on Friday included Adam Ezra Group, Mission Hill, and Air Traffic Controller. This year’s line-up sported credits such as a nomination for MTV’s Best Breakout Artist and opening acts for Ke$ha and Usher.
Delaney attributed part of FredFest’s appeal to its well-planned timing. Early in fall semester the weather is relatively cooperative, Rush has ended and students are not yet bogged down with schoolwork.
Still young, the idea for FredFest was formulated in early 2008 by Graham and two students at Walker Memorial Basement Radio (WMBR), MIT’s student radio station. It was a natural outgrowth of their regular show, which featured local bands and musicians. “Why not make [the show] live?” thought Graham.
FredFest is an introduction to the local music scene — an integral part of Boston’s nightlife culture — added Graham.
True to its roots, FredFest is still focused on fostering local music. He and WMBR are always on the lookout for small groups with high potential. FredFest is booked by February, in hopes that the then-unknown groups will explode over the summer and become circulating names by the time September rolls around, sometimes even on the national scene.
Concert veterans and new attendees alike applauded this year’s talent pool. “The bands were so much better than I expected … the second percussionist, he really made it. That was stellar!” said Camille E. Richman ’15.
Graham noted that the Boston music scene is swelling and bands now regularly approach him about playing in the annual concert, instead of him approaching them.
“The bands are all excited to play for MIT, to play for us, and every one that has gotten involved has had a good experience with that,” said Delaney. Mission Hill, who also performed on the closing night of orientation, will return to campus in December.
Driving the works is the East Campus Concert Committee, a core of 7–8 students elected by the dormitory each January. Band selection is made solely through committee voting. The committee is also responsible for every aspect of concert organization, including acquiring funding from major student groups — Large Event Fund, Dormitory Council, and the Undergraduate Association — to keep the concert free.
Although FredFest is advertised as an East Campus event, its goal is to span the entire MIT community, said Graham. Each year, ConcertComm and WMBR receive more and more input from the whole student body regarding the musician roster, he remarked. In addition, planning will begin earlier this year so that FredFest V may be held in the Stratton Student Center, a more central campus location.
“[FredFest] Five — that’s already an achievement,” said Graham. “As long as the students are passionate, I’m willing to help. It’s great to see them make it happen.”
Delaney adds his perspective as an audience member: “It is built upon successes.”
If FredFest IV is any indicator, its successor is not looking to disappoint. Stay tuned.