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Concerts gears up for Spring shows

Violeta Ruiz Espigares is the chair of SGA Concerts. Photo by Taek Lee
Violeta Ruiz Espigares is the chair of SGA Concerts. Photo by Taek Lee
Violeta Ruiz Espigares is the chair of SGA Concerts. Photo by Taek Lee

The SGA Concerts Committee is gearing up to bring a host of emerging new artists to campus this semester. The spring 2015 season will kick off tonight at 9 p.m. in Gardner with Ballast, a Los Angeles-based DJ who evokes a hip-hop sound, and Doctor Jeep, a New York-based DJ relying on heavy electronic beats.

SGA Concerts Chair Violeta Ruiz Espigares ’15 explained the process that goes into compiling the lineup for each semester.

“I take suggestions [for artists], and then narrow it down, taking into account people that we can afford, people coming through the Midwest and the variety in the lineup for the semester,” she said.

Ruiz Espigares then contacts artists’ agents and begins negotiating performance fees, concert dates and the feasibility of bringing the artist to Grinnell. Last semester, the committee received $45,000 of SGA funds, and Ruiz expects the budget for this semester to amount to about $55,000.

“Maybe two-thirds of the budget goes to paying the bands, but we also need to allocate money to pay our workers, to pay for food for the band, stuff we need on the day of the concert and motels and flights [to bring the artist to Grinnell],” Ruiz Espigares said, noting that another important segment of the committee’s funds goes towards maintaining and upgrading equipment that allows for the concerts to occur.

Students involved in Concerts are responsible for every aspect of the setup and performance process, from student drivers who pick up artists from the airport, to those who monitor sound during the concerts in Gardner. Committee members design posters to publicize upcoming events and maintain a social media presence via their website (, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Photographers document the concert experience itself, and hospitality coordinators purchase food and other supplies to accommodate the artists. Writers publish blog posts as previews and reviews of upcoming and recent concerts. Many of these are paid positions.

While some students complain that SGA Concerts fails to bring artists with greater name recognition, Ruiz Espigares explained the limitations of Gardner as a concert venue in terms of its small space, limited sound and acoustic capacity and the number of people required to host such an event.

“I look at past spreadsheets and see what previous concert chairs have paid. Usually there’s one big expense, a maximum of $5,000 [for performance fees], then some medium expenses of about $2,000 and a few small expenses that are less than $1,000. Because of the capacity of our venue, booking someone that would cost more [than $5,000] is a big enough show that we can’t actually provide the service they would require,” Ruiz Espigares  said of how she decides to break down the funding in terms of which artists to bring in.

The full lineup for the semester has not yet been posted. The second show for the semester will feature Ne-Hi and Basin, who will appear in Gardner on Saturday, Jan. 31. Ruiz Espigares is especially excited for the Baltimore-based rapper-producer duo TT The Artist, Mighty Mark, Lust for Youth, a Swedish dream-pop group recently relocated to Denmark and Saba, a Chicagoan rapper “about to make it really big.”

“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” Ruiz Espigares said.

The SGA Concerts Committee meets Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. and is open to everyone. The group always welcomes new members. Interested students should email [concerts] for more information about how to get involved.

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