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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Column: Live on campus

If you haven’t heard already, Band of Horses is playing at Freeborn Hall on May 27. Students can purchase pre-sale tickets at the Freeborn Ticket Office for $25.50 with a student ID tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m.

That’s pretty cool. This is all in addition to the upcoming Passion Pit show, which is still scheduled for April. 14. Tickets for that show are $15 (go figure). Let’s see if they pull a Crepeville-and-run like Bloc Party did last year.

I wholeheartedly support any major on-campus show, no matter how outlandishly boring it might be. When a show is in the dead center of campus – literally a minute walk from Wellman, Olson and Shields library – it’s hard to find a reason not to go. It’s a little like tuning in to 107.9 FM just to hear what’s popular. I mean, why the hell not?

On-campus shows won’t gouge your wallet, either – even if they’re only available through tickets.com. If you’re really that bothered with your selection of on-campus performances, you could always just see Jay-Z at the HP Pavilion for $144.

On that note, it’s strange seeing the amount of outsiders that come for these shows. I remember plenty of Hot Topic-plastered women in their late 20s waiting outside Freeborn before AFI performed back in 2007. How did they find the hall? Was it weird being on a college campus?

But while typical Freeborn acts are usually relatively well-known, it seems like it’s still hard to escape an underlying feeling of mediocrity. Past campus performers like 311, Death Cab for Cutie, Muse and Bright Eyes result in a resounding “whatever” from probably most of the campus, or at least myself. Except maybe Muse, which seemingly never stops playing at the ASUCD Coffee House.

Freeborn Hall itself, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is by far a less-than-perfect venue for larger shows. The sound isn’t great and you often feel like you’re at a high school rally. Imagine what concerts must have been like before the Mondavi Center.

It’s also hard to say whether or not the Freeborn venue itself is a drawing factor. I happen to work at Freeborn, and if I’m not watching one of the major concerts, I’m usually counting tickets, cleaning up vomit and telling people not to sit on the rails.

In this sense, concerts are a nice break from the usual set of Freeborn events. Big shows are few and far between, especially since academic symposiums and luncheons make up the bulk of our event calendar.

My first shift put me on the takedown after the AFI show back in 2007. Years later, I watched Jason Mraz perform the fading hit “I’m Yours” to a packed Freeborn Hall while an obese middle-aged gentleman to my left flipped him off every time he looked in his direction. A woman who I presume was his wife stood next to him, ashamedly mouthing along to the lyrics.

Pre-sale tickets for that concert were $20. The fat guy probably paid for the full $35 ticket, but it was clearly still worth it to see the show – even if all he did was yell, “Fuck you.” He definitely enjoyed himself.

I can’t say I haven’t felt such ambivalence when it comes to previous Pavilion concerts – the Relient K/Switchfoot concert seemed like a waste of spirituality, and I remember sleeping through the Muse/The Strokes concert my freshman year. In my bed.

But really, it’s all we’ve got. On campus shows won’t break your bank. At least bike by Freeborn when the bands are performing.

JUSTIN T. HO is excited to see both Band of Horses and Passion Pit perform next quarter, even though he couldn’t really care less about either band. More importantly, Search Party is in the works. E-mail any questions you might have about the upcoming music competition to arts@theaggie.org.

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