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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Beyond the Flashing Lights and the Beating Basses of the Concert

    It was through the initiative of members of the university community, that the historic Stony Brook concert series has been revamped. During Moiz Khan Malik’s time as Undergraduate Student Government Treasurer, he and Alexander Dimitriyadi evaluated the old system that was in place for the Student Activities Board and determined that something had to change in order to increase the success of events on campus.

    “We made a list of goals and I think the number one goal that everyone had, especially at that time last [spring] would be the new SAB structure and with Brookfest being a failure last year we wanted to have a big blowout concert and have bigger events during the semester,” said USG President Matt Graham.

    Graham, along with Malik and other members of USG analyzed what the old structure of SAB did wrong and looked to improve it.

    “We clearly saw that there was a clear lack of events that cater to the entire campus community,” Malik said. What Malik found after looking into Stony Brook’s history was that the university was, at a point in time, a destination place for major musical acts such as Van Morrison, James Taylor, The Police and the Doobie Brothers. With the help of Norm Prusslin, the director of the Living Learning Center, Malik and, later, David Mazza USG vice president of communications and public relations, got to work as soon as the school year started after Malik’s predecessor quit on the first day of the fall semester.

    Almost 4,000 fans showed up to the Stony Brook University Arena to see Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae in concert on May 6, marking one of the largest turnouts for a university event in recent memory. (Photo Credit: Aleef Rahman)

    More than half a year later on May 6, through the efforts of Malik, Mazza and more than 55 volunteers, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe and Plan B performed in front of a sold out audience of almost 4,000 fans in the Sports Complex arena. The road to the final product, however, was not the smoothest. Before any of the logistical planning can begin, an artist has to be chosen.

    “If an artist is big when you are planning the concert, they won’t necessarily be big when the concert happens,” Malik said. “So, if someone releases an album in September — give or take the radio cycles — they’ll probably be off the radio by March.” This wasn’t the case with Bruno Mars, who was added to the list as a side thought, despite being an artist that was considered at the start of the planning process.

    Malik and Mazza, who was heavily involved in the marketing aspect of the concert, both knew of Janelle Monáe before the planning of the concert and decided to attempt to book her for a show after a deal with Lupe Fiasco fell through, after he signed a contract to perform at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

    It turned out that Bruno Mars and Janelle Monáe were co-headlining the Hooligans in Wondaland tour, which is sponsored by Pop Chips, in the spring.

    “The really appealing part was that it was a tour which meant that they came with all their own stuff,” Malik said. “They had a set up design already and we didn’t have to design it. So in that sense was that all of the logistics came packaged together. In a lot of ways, on the night of it made it more difficult but planning it made it so much easier because they just kind of did everything.”

    Planning the concert began immediately and the proper steps were taken to get administrative and official approval for the artists. What initially began as a nine-week security clearance process, became, over the course of the year, a significantly shorter process.

    “Because of all the concerts we tried to plan, [the university] spent all winter reviewing that [security] policy,” Mazza said. “Now, we could potentially get a security check done in a week, like it should be. All they ask for us to give them is three reference numbers for other venues [that the artist has performed at] so they could be called to learn what happened at their venue.” Some of the other artists that were a potential possibility included previously mentioned Lupe Fiasco and Snoop Dogg.

    Initially, Malik was against the idea of charging students for the concert; going as far to even say that he would feel insulted if he had to pay for the student activity fee and then, on top of that, pay another $10 or $15 for a concert. However, he and Mazza learned after comedian Aziz Ansari’s performance that charging for a concert or show is necessary.

    “What we learned from Aziz Ansari was that students were more upset that the tickets were free because, as you know, a lot of students who waited on line for hours for Aziz Ansari didn’t get in,” Mazza said. “I felt like the night of [the performance], there were definitely a lot of kids who didn’t show up; the whole stand-by line got in.”

    As a result, a set number of student and off-campus tickets that cannot be adjusted were predetermined by a university policy.

    “It’s to protect the students,” Mazza said. “But it really kind of hurts students because we couldn’t shift the price of the outside tickets.” Student tickets sold out by Wednesday night while the off-campus tickets didn’t sell out until Friday around noon.

    The money that was made from ticket sales, roughly $40,000 according to Mazza, ended up going toward the cost of some of the items on the artists’ riders – the list of things the artist requires the venue provide for them. For example, Janelle Monáe requested a dozen white carnations, non-artificial, fresh ginger and mint leaves and s chilled Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso on ice. Each of the artists requested some kind of alcohol (Bruno Mars asked for 24 bottles of beer, a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, two bottles of Grey Goose Vodka, one bottle of Patron Tequila and a bottle of red wine.)

    According to VP of Communications David Mazza, $40,000 went toward the costs of providing various items for the artists. Janelle Monáe, for example, requested a dozen white carnations, non-artificial fresh ginger and mint leaves and a chilled Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso on ice. (Photo Credit: Aleef Rahman)

    However, due to university policy, none of the artists were supplied with any.

    SAB did have expenses that had to be made, though they were not requested in the artists’ riders or contracts.

    “Athletics has literally never had anything that heavy hang from the ceiling and they needed to know if they could structurally be supported so they had to hire a structural engineer to come in and evaluate the area to see how much weight they can hang,” Mazza said.

    Despite the show starting on time, minor implications did occur before the opening act, Plan B, took the stage. It was believed that the volunteers who worked on Thursday and Friday were going to be granted some backstage access. However, the tour denied them that opportunity.

    “I couldn’t have imagined them denying all those volunteers backstage access,” Mazza said. “If we knew that we would have written that into the contract; we didn’t negotiate that.”

    Regardless, the show went smoothly. Each transition was seamless. Janelle Monáe impressed the audience with her use of painting on stage and her larger-than-life energy coming out of her five-foot-nothing body; Bruno Mars with his stage presence.

    After the show, the 4,000 fans left the arena with memories from the night, whether they were negative or positive.

    But only one person was able to leave the show with Janelle Monáe’s painting: Moiz Khan Malik.


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