March 28, 2010

Independently Mainstream

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Slope Day has become one of Cornell’s biggest traditions, but within the Ivy League it is hardly unique. Right now, almost all the other Ivies are gearing up for their annual outdoor Spring concerts — concerts each school considers among its own great traditions. And though we had the rest of the League beat in all things March Madness, after looking at the other schools’ lineups, some Cornellians might feel a little jealous come May.The first of these Slope-like concerts is UPenn’s Spring Fling to be held on April 16-17. The festivities, which include food stands and giveaways, will bring around 10,000 people to Penn’s quad for performances by Kid Cudi, Snoop Dogg and Shwayze. The next day, Kid Cudi will travel to Harvard Yard as the main act of Harvard’s annual Spring concert, Yardfest. The show will also feature singer-songwriter Patrick Park as the opening act.Perhaps the most enviable event in the Ivy League, however, is Brown’s Spring Weekend. Apr. 23 and 24, students from Brown and nearby Rhode Island School of Design will gather on the Main Green for two days of debauchery. The first day of this year’s Spring Weekend will have performances by Major Lazer and MGMT. Snoop Dogg, fresh from his appearance at Penn, will perform the next day, along with Wale and the Black Keys — reinforcing Brown’s reputation as the most hipster Ivy.The very same weekend, students at Columbia will also be celebrating with their Bacchanal — a weekend of entertainment and revelry that always includes an outdoor concert on the campus’ Low Steps. Last year they had Talib Kweli and Columbia alums Vampire Weekend, but have not yet released word on who to expect for this year’s show. However, since 2010’s Bacchanal is being billed as “Chewbacchanal,” Columbia students should expect something of epic proportion. The very last of the Ivies to have an event similar to Slope Day is Yale (Princeton’s Spring “Houseparties” celebration is somewhat different in format from Slope Day). Yale’s concert is also called Spring Fling and will be on Yale’s Old Campus Apr 27. Like Brown’s Spring Weekend, the main act is MGMT, but the duo will instead be joined by Mike Posner, the Ying Yang Twins and rising indie stars Matt & Kim.But while Penn and Harvard seem to be coping with sharing Kid Cudi, Yalies and Brunonians are not too happy about having their respective indie prowess challenged. On the Facebook event page for Yale’s Spring Fling a Yale student stated, “Brown’s getting MGMT too … but they’re straight posing, cuz we booked them back in NOVEMBER. Yale 1, hippies 0.” In response, a blogger on Brown’s Blog Daily Herald said, “anyone who says ‘straight posing’ like that is, well, straight posing…”Ouch.But given how different Cornell’s lineup is from the rest of the Ivy League, many may feel that Cornellians are the real posers. Knowing that most of the Ivies have kept fans of diverse musical taste in mind by booking well known alternative and rock artists (Patrick Park, Matt & Kim, MGMT, the Black Keys) may cause even more frustration with the Slope Day Committee, which has already garnered lots of criticism from student body for picking ultra mainstream groups like last year’s Pussycat Dolls. Though a tight budget, and having to work around artists’ tour schedules (which don’t usually include stops in Ithaca) limits the Committee’s options severely, it is clear that the past few years’ choices have had a mainstream leaning, and moreover have generally favored hip-hop acts like Asher Roth, Gym Class Heroes and T.I.. Performances by truly alternative groups in the last few years have been rare (no, Hot Hot Heat doesn’t count…), or overlooked, like the Apples in Stereo’s 2009 set. And though 2010 performers Francis and the Lights definitely count as indie, they are still too much of an unknown to get the kind of enthusiasm from the student body that a larger act like blues rockers the Black Keys would…But hold your complaints.While most of the other concerts are, like Slope Day, free with student id, Brown and Penn’s Spring extravaganzas range from $18-30 — a considerable sum for the cash-strapped college student. Day-of tickets and tickets for non-students are even more expensive, and spots fill quickly. The fact that Cornell is the proverbial odd man out and is not sharing its lineup with any other Ivy can be seen as a good thing. True, it means no Kid Cudi or MGMT, but for the time being at least we can stand apart from the Ivy infighting and name-calling going on in cyberspace.

Original Author: Hannah Stamler