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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Robbed by State Radio

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Opinions

Criticism is a multi-headed monster that means something different to everyone. For a critic, it’s a job that offers the comforts of a sustainable lifestyle while critiquing art. For a reader, it’s a window into a (hopefully) well-constructed viewpoint that can easily shed light on a subject that was previously unknown. Yet, in a living, breathing community, criticism is another beast entirely, and one that isn’t entirely welcome. Constructive or destructive in nature, our amiable connections to nearly everyone in this tight-knit and small university often makes it hard for the fine points of criticism to be taken seriously. As our tangled social webs can impede our ability to grow and prosper as a community through criticism, I find myself in a situation where my conscience has gotten the better of me and (hopefully) the better of the community. Under these circumstances, I turn to the recent lineup announcement for Springfest 2008.

Springfest, the yearly outdoor festival cosponsored by Student Events and WBRS, is one of the great highlights of the spring semester. Say what you will about the big Student Events concerts – it’s unfortunate, but not every student will be satisfied with a single performance group that is meant to be the big event of the semester – but to be upset at the event that is Springfest is heresy. The combination of several bands of different genres brings a sense of musical and ideological diversity to a performance space; the key elements of a large free event that is held on a beautiful day outdoors (provided there isn’t any inclement weather) creates the image of a bustling community, where large numbers of students can be seen basking in the sunlight and simply enjoying being together. Yet, with the lineup announcement, I find myself half joyful and half appalled, upset, and incredibly disappointed.

I applaud the decision to bring the Pietasters, Minus the Bear, and Jedi Mind Tricks, a diverse set of acts that are at the top of their respective genres of ska, math rock, and underground hip-hop. Yet, the decision to place State Radio in the headlining spot at Springfest is overwhelmingly and profoundly upsetting at best, and fiscally irresponsible and irrevocably damaging to the pride of this campus at worst. Immediately, I realize that some may question my level of disappointment due to my personal taste; true, I am not a fan of State Radio, and to shield that fact in any way would be deceiving. But ultimately, they are just a band, and that is not the major problem at hand – musical aesthetics and fiscal responsibility have nothing to do with each other and are better kept that way. The problem with State Radio’s inclusion in the Springfest lineup is one that ultimately affects the rest of the Brandeis community, and one that students in this university should take issue in.

State Radio was one of the headlining acts for Springfest 2006. This means that half this campus already had the ability to see the band at the exact same event. How State Radio managed to fill in the same slot in a two-year period of time is baffling: there cannot be a single excuse other than simple selfishness that could account for State Radio’s upcoming appearance. Fiscally, this decision is one of the most irresponsible moves made on this campus in years, but considering Student Events’ recent idea to charge students $10 for a concert featuring a band that hasn’t created an album worthy of purchasing since before most of the students at this school were in high school, I can’t say I’m too surprised. On the website for Pretty Polly Productions (, a Waltham-based company that helps hire musical groups, State Radio’s listed performance price is in the range of $12,500 – $17,500. Of course, this doesn’t take into effect whatever behind-the scenes bargaining may have gone into effect, but considering their minimal online list price it’s ultimately a shocking revelation. As a campus leader, I understand just how difficult it can be for clubs to get money, especially considering the fact that our university’s endowment is miniscule in comparison to other area schools.

State Radio’s minimum asking price was greater than the amount of regular marathon funds that the following non-secured clubs received for the Spring 2008 semester: AHORA!, Adagio, African Club, African Dance Club, Alpine Snow Sports Club, Arab-Jewish Dialogue Group, Argentine Tango Society, Asian American Students Association, Asian Baptist Student Koinonia, B’yachad, BaRuCH, Ballet Club, Ballroom Dance Club, Ballroom Dance Team, Bellydance Ensemble, Black Student Organization, Bollywood Club, Boris’ Kitchen, Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society, Brandeis Equestrian Club, Brandeis International Relations Council, Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee, Brandeis Official Readers Guild, Brandeis Orthodox Organization, Brandeis Players, Brandeis Quiz Bowl, Brandeis Science Scope, Brandeis Society for Creative Fantasy, Brandeis Swingers, Brandeis University Conservative Organization, Brandeis University Kayak Association, Brandeis University Marching Band, Brandeis Zionist Alliance, Business Club, Capoeira Brandeis, Catholic Student Organization, Chabad at Brandeis, Cheerleading Squad, Chinese Cultural Connection, College Democrats, Comic Book Club, Console Gamers X, Counseling and Rape Crisis Hotline, Culinary Arts Club, Cycling Club and Team, Diverse City, Ensemble Theater, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Gravity, Gymnastics Club, Hillel First Year Council, Hillel Theater Group, Hipnosis, Hold Thy Peace, Holocaust Remembrance Week, Hooked on Tap, The Hoot, Ice Skating Club, International Club, Jam Society, Japanese Student Association, Juggling Society, Just Fencing, Korean Student Association, Laurel Moon, Medieval Society, Mitzvah Corps., Mock Trial Association, Mountain Club, Namaskar, National Collegiate Volunteers, Paintball Club, Peers Educating about Responsible Choices, Philosophically Speaking, Photography Club, Physics Club, Playback Theatre Society, Club, Pottery Club, Pre-Dental Society, Pre-Health Society, Pre-Veterinary Society and Animal Appreciation Club, Psychology Club, Punk, Rock n’ Roll Club, Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, Russian Club, Salseros, Skydiving and Future Endeavors Club, South Asian Students Association, Southeast Asia Club, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Peace Alliance, Student Sexuality Information Service, Students United for Israel, Students for Environmental Action, Table Tennis Society, The Blowfish,Top Score, Triskelion, Tympanium Euphorium, Vagina Club, Voices of Praise, Volunteer Vacations, Where the Children Play, Works in Progress, Yiddish Club, and Yoga Club.

To say that the decision to bring State Radio back is a poor one would ultimately be an understatement. To even think about what the 107 clubs on this campus could have done with the same amount of money is sickening to say the least. Brandeis prides itself on its vibrant and engaging community – yet, it’s during times like these when I’m left to question the image of our fair university.

In the end, this is simply a band in what is simply an event in a year filled with other events just like it. Yet, it is the principle of it all that is really upsetting and has lead me to write this article that is critical of people who I am lucky to work with and call “friend.” Before I decided to publish this article, I sent this article to associates of mine involved in organizing Springfest so that they could know my opinion before I spilled it to anyone who picked up this newspaper. Ultimately, this is my opinion and no one else’s, and ultimately it was my choice to submit this article for publication. It will be my choice when, on April 6th, as a senior, and card-carrying member and former E-boarder for WBRS, I will attend Springfest to see sets by the Pietasters, Minus the Bear, and Jedi Mind Tricks. And it will be my choice to leave the event when State Radio’s equipment is brought out onstage.