Let's talk about that one made-up word that’s proven to be extremely contentious over the past few weeks on BC’s campus—that’s right, let’s talk about Plexapalooza. Hopefully the student body has had enough time to digest and move on from the frenzy that surrounded this occasion. Friday, Jan. 29 turned out to be quite a topic of conversation, whether you got tickets to the sought-after event or not. And among the fortunate rave-goers, seemingly everyone was a Chainsmokers fan that day.
It wasn’t the first time that the Plex was packed, sweaty, and full of energetically dancing students. What is unique to this year is that tickets sold out within the first two minutes they went on sale. This means that over 1,200 students logged onto the Robsham Theater webpage at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m. on a Tuesday to obtain the highly coveted tickets that most of the student body had been raving about over winter break—pun intended.
Nevertheless, BC’s Campus Activities Board (CAB) is ultimately responsible for the range of emotions that filled the air in the two weeks that followed the infamous day that tickets went on sale. Sophomores Riley Kinney, MCAS '18, and Samantha Ng, CSOM '18, both members of CAB’s Live Entertainment (LE) division, share some of the inside details of what the process is like for getting the popular entertainers and for putting on such sought after on-campus concerts.
Last spring CAB snagged DJ Dillon Francis for Plexapalooza and Ludacris for Modstock. While the name Dillon Francis didn’t necessarily ring a bell, Ludacris seemed to be more familiar from his hits "Money Maker" and "My Chick Bad." Since Luda was on campus, things have only gotten better, as the Chainsmokers #blessed the basketball courts. Not too shabby.
Ng and Kinney explain that booking artists for these events is a multi-step process: “The CAB executive board has to approve [the artist], then it goes up to the BC administration with a list of the artist’s top songs and their lyrics,” says Ng, which is why LE had been brainstorming potential artists since the summer time. “We brainstorm a lot of people but don’t really get that many…” Ng explained.
The LE division of CAB is comprised of 10 people, and of these, the head of department holds the most individual responsibility. At the end of the fall semester, he or she goes to a talent conference to sign different acts to come to Boston College. And while it may seem as though LE is nothing other than a group of the most well connected 20-somethings, this is not necessarily the case. The group has an assigned agent who deals directly with the agents of the big names they bring to campus.
Ng and Kinney say that CAB's live entertainment division, while responsible for bringing Plexapalooza and Modstock to life, organize many smaller events to supplement the headliner concerts. “We do hands-on events like comedy shows and guest speakers, but with lower budget events we e-mail [the performers or their agents] directly,” Kinney explains.
Comedians, guest speakers, and additional entertainment aside, Plexapalooza and Mostock are without a doubt the biggest events that LE hosts, and so far this year has been nothing but successful. The group is ecstatic with the results of bringing the Chainsmokers to campus earlier this semester, as opposed to Dillon Francis, whose performance elicited mixed reviews.
This year, LE brought on an additional production company to enhance the experience of Plexapalooza by setting up more props—including LED screens, CO2 cannons, T-shirts, and glow-sticks—among many other rave staples. This second production company, called Group Boston, “wanted to brand Plexapalooza better,” according to Kinney, so that “people would want to come based on the experience.”
Bringing more elements to the Plexapalooza experience required a thoughtful reallocation of funds, but Ng does clarify that “most of the time we don’t break even; we’re not expected to,” to which Kinney adds that LE “budgeted everything hoping that it would sell out.” And that it did.
Regardless of what your experience was with Plexapalooza this year, it’s hard to deny the event’s success. The night certainly marked one the most memorable concerts that BC has hosted to date. Modstock has enormous shoes to fill, but based on this year’s precedent, LE appears very capable of taking on the challenge. If there’s one thing the student body can be sure of, it’s that LE knows how to put on a show.