By Shireen Mohyi
Entirely East Lansing
The alternative-rock band We the Kings performed a free concert at the Wharton Center in Cobb Great Hall on March 22 that was sponsored by Michigan State University’s University Activities Board.
“I know why you guys are the Spartans … you kill everything you do!” lead singer Travis Clark shouted to the crowd of nearly 2,000 students and fans, referencing the Spartans’ win against the Virginia Cavaliers earlier that night.
Concert tickets were available for $10 to the public and free for MSU students. According to UAB’s music director Emily Fenger, it varies from year to year whether UAB sponsors free shows. She said that the cost of a ticket depends on UAB’s budget and what events that director has done in the past. UAB makes sure all of their events are either free or low cost for students and the public.
We the Kings made this concert extremely interactive with the audience. The band conversed with the crowd between songs and encouraged the audience to dance and sing along to some of their hit songs, such as “We’ll Be a Dream” and “Check Yes, Juliet.”
The band covered many of its past songs and shared some of their new material. Clark performed a solo cover of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and the band ended the night with a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” a song the band said inspired them to form their group in the first place.
The audience was given a surprise treat when a technical difficulty resulted in lead guitarist Hunter Thomsen diving into the crowd during a song. Thomsen ran through the aisles and hugged and posed with fans.
Fenger said artists that have performed low-cost concerts at the Wharton Center have video blogs on YouTube and use the opportunity of a concert to film more content. Clark mentioned the concert being filmed to the audience several times and encouraged as much dancing as possible.
We the Kings gained popularity when it headlined Van’s Warped Tour in 2008 through 2010, 2012 and 2014. Fans at the March 22 show had attended WTK shows in the past and were excited the band was doing a low-cost show at the Wharton. MSU kinesiology sophomore Kayla Fister has been a long-time WTK fan and was eager to get tickets.
“I’ve been a We The Kings fan since I was 14, 15 years old, so I got these tickets as soon as I heard. I would go to all of those small-venue shows and Warped Tour to see them,” said Fister. “They are always so fun to watch perform. If you told me a few years ago I would get to see them for free, I wouldn’t believe you.”
According to Fenger, UAB works with a middle agent from the company Concert Ideas who goes between the school hosting the event and the agency to plan the concert.
UAB sends the agent a list of artists and he tells the board prices and availability and then he also helps to put in the offer and handle the contract. We put in the offer that the show would be free so the artist knows before they sign a contract what the ticket prices will be.
UAB plans a large variety of events through the academic year. Anything from sports related things, to comedians, to game shows. Fender said that UAB hasn’t found that one type of event is ever preferred over the others. Instead, it tries to program a large variety so it can provide events for as many people as possible.