At the French Cultural Society ‘Euro-Trash’ social Friday night, the real headliner wasn’t even at the bar. Jazz-electronica duo Big Gigantic will come to Columbia in two weeks, the Bacchanal committee announced, along with Wavves, a California surf-punk trio, and New Orleans rapper Curren$y. Columbia’s own Spicy Special will open the show.
After the announcement, Nick Charles, GS ’15, noted the disconnect between the theme and the lineup. “It seems to be more Baccha-nonentities than Baccha-90s, but I’m sure it’ll be a good time. I know they’ll do a good job,” Charles said.
Though this year’s acts aren’t stratospheric, there was a buzz outside the event regarding headliner Big Gigantic. Soya Seo, CC ’13, was elated after the announcement. “I love Big Gigantic,” she said. “I’ve been meaning to catch them live for so long. This is perfect.”
The majority of on-campus Bacchanal feedback, however, has consisted of puzzled expressions followed by the question, “Who?” Still, many appreciate the greater variety of this year’s show, as last year’s performance was so rap-heavy.
Already, commenters on Spectrum and Bwog posted an outpouring of mixed opinions. Some applauded the audacious choice of lesser-known artists, while others said that they are opting to attend other Ivy university concerts, such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Spring Fling, out of frustration with the selections.
The issue of Bacchanal’s funding has loomed over the event since 2011’s 11th-hour venue change landed the organization in $18,000 of debt through added security costs. To compensate, earlier in the year, the organization successfully pitched to the school councils for donations before booking this year’s acts.
The selection of artists for the spring concert is a contentious point for Columbia student body—with the event’s $100,000 budget footed by student-life fees, the committee has a tough crowd of stakeholders to please. However, with a track record of booking heavy hitters such as Kanye West, Vampire Weekend and Snoop Dogg, matching the caliber of previous years can be a tall order, particularly when working around extenuating circumstances.
The University does not allow any club to book the steps after April 20. In order to avoid returning to the lawn, Bacchanal reserved April 14—which also placed them directly in conflict with the two-weekend California concert festival Coachella. According to Bacchanal co-chairs, this limited their team as they look for artists they could contact for inquiries.
Despite a degree of animosity from students, Bacchanal president Dan Weinstein, CC ’12, assured Spectator that the selection process followed student opinion, explaining that committee’s decisions were based on a Bwog poll of students’ favorite music genres. “We’ve kept very close to the genres that came out on top,” Weinstein said.
FCS party organizer Marina Chiesa, CC ’13, placed emphasis on the experience, not the performers.
“Bacchanal is Bacchanal, whoever plays. It’s about being out in the sun with your friends and having a good time.”