Breaking new ground with off-campus bands

Musicfest, something of a tradition on the Williams campus, undergoes a significant makeover this year. The outdoor concert, weakened in past years by a dearth of campus bands, reemerges May 2 as a major event. Contributing to the heightened buzz surrounding this year’s Musicfest are two main factors: the recruitment of off-campus talent and a unique cooperation between SAC, WCFM, and the House Presidents, the three organizations presenting the affair.

According to Fitch House Co-President Stephanie Lovett ’98, Musicfest might not even have existed were it not for this cooperation. Lovett says that this year’s Musicfest was borne out of what was originally a plan for a Berkshire Quad concert put together by Fitch House. As she and Fitch Co-President Kaiva Klimanis ‘98 realized that there were few interested campus bands, they appealed to WCFM for help in scheduling acts from outside Williams.

WCFM External Music Director Erik Klemetti ’99 speaks on WCFM’s role in the planning: “we more or less used WCFM contacts with the record industry, and in particular the Boston music scene, to get good local acts at good prices.”

The good Boston groups of which Klemetti speaks are Jack Drag, Veronica Black Morpheus Nipple and Star Ghost Dog (see accompanying article). Filling out the lineup are student bands Ray Brower and Faraway Laughter, Williamstown folk singer Bernice Lewis and alumnus Drew Bunting ’97 of the band Saturnine. Professor Ping keeps the lineup seamless with DJ spots between sets.

Soon, SAC entered the picture, and the concert first intended as daytime entertainment during Spring Fling took on a greater role as Musicfest. The event, traditionally held on May 16, was moved to May 2 in order to accommodate those who might be “musicked out,” in the words of SAC Representative Kevin Bolduc ‘99, from the They Might Be Giants to be held the following week.

SAC has now assumed a role of importance in providing manpower for the event. It also has unique interfacing: it has dealt with the bands performing and the Williams student body. Klemetti notes that “SAC has the organizational skills and on-campus contacts” necessary to carry out Musicfest this year.

With an arsenal of talented acts from the bubble and beyond, all parties are sanguine. Klemetti said “all the bands are excited about playing here, their albums have been successful on WCFM, and I hope that’ll translate to a good turnout for the show. The more people attend shows like this, the better chance we have of hooking the big name acts.” Lovett is optimistic not just about the event, but about the implications of the cooperation making it all possible: she hopes that Musicfest will represent the “coronation of a new tradition of student activities and organization.”