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Spring Concert: What Really Goes on Before the Curtain Opens

Lauren Foster ’15, Staff Writer

When you walk in to Lawler Arena for spring concert it can be easy to assume that the rink was converted into a concert arena by professionals. In reality, the Merrimack Programming Board (MPB) transforms the rink within just 48 hours, although planning begins months beforehand.

In September 2013, students were polled as to which genre they would like to see. Unfortunately, not a large percent of students took advantage of this opportunity, as only 200 completed the survey. It was sent out multiple times via the What’s Up e-mail.

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“It’s a very lengthy process of trying to find an act that is in our price range that is also in the type of genre that students are interested in. The concert choice has to coincide with the college’s mission and values as well,” stated Tyler McCarthy, MPB’s president.

Students were polled in a recent Beacon edition asking which artists they would like to have come for spring concert. Some responses given were Drake, Luke Bryan, and the Rascal Flatts ― all of which are outside of the spring concert budget and are artists who do not perform on college campuses.

This year’s artists are a co-headlining act: the up-and-coming duo, A Great Big World, and the well-known group, Plain White T’s. Prior to both acts performing, there will be a DJ opening. Having three separate talents is something that Merrimack has never had before.

So how is the artist chosen? After the surveys are collected, the concert committee ― consisting of two co-chairs, MPB’s president and advisor, and OSI’s grad fellow ― meets with a middle-agent and discusses which artists of that genre are within the concert’s budget, among other requirements.

Although some students seem to be disappointed, MPB still managed to break the record of most tickets sold at a reveal event this year.

When someone talks about “Merrimack” planning the spring concert, whether it be negative or positive, they assume it is professional staff members who put it on, but it is an event planned by their peers.

“I know how hard MPB works on providing a concert for the Merrimack community,” commented Donna Swartwout, dean of campus life. “Having two co-headlining acts is pretty amazing.”

It is true that “Hey There Delilah” was released in 2005, but the Plain White T’s have continued to release music since, including three new albums. With a record coming out later this year, students can expect them to perform previews from their yet-to-be-released album.

The Plain White T’s are currently headlining the NHL Stadium Series while A Great Big World’s “Say Something” was certified double platinum and sold over three million copies as of February in the United States alone.

Rose Dolan, assistant director of student involvement stated, “A Great Big World is an up-and-coming band that has received a lot of positive media and has been featured on many award and television shows.”

Although MPB’s Springapalooza, as well as Relay for Life, have a throwback theme this year, it is hard to call the spring concert a blast from the past, as A Great Big World is new to the scene and Plain White T’s continues to produce new music.

“I know the concert (and Springapalooza weekend) is going to be a success!” Swartwout commented.

Matt O’Neil, a co-chair of the concert stated, “Spring Concert has been my life at Merrimack every since I was a freshman and no matter who comes it is always the greatest event of the year.”

As the curtain closes and students leave the arena bound for other spring weekend festivities, it is the MPB members that will be there taking down what led to a memory we will all remember.

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