Walking on stage Saturday night, Los Angeles recording artist Mayer Hawthorne looked out to a relatively small crowd of students at the Siegel Center for the Back to School Jam concert.
Each year at the end of Welcome Week, the Activities Programming Board holds a concert or interactive activity1. The event has nearly sold out in years past, but only about 300 tickets were sold from Break Point Games & Lounge before this year’s show. Even fewer were sold at the Siegel Center.
“There’s a lot of empty seats, don’t worry about these two big, scary guys guarding the stage, everyone come up front,” said Andrew Mayer Cohen, known by the stage name Mayer Hawthorne, during the Back to School Jam.
Everyone had the opportunity for floor seats this year as security allowed everyone to move closer to the stage because of the lack of attendance.
“To look at the glass half-full, I always say it is always better to have some than none,” said Rhonda Moton, concert chair for the APB. “So I’m glad that people did come out, and the people that are here are feeling the music.”
The APB selected the neo-soul artist for this fall’s Back to School Jam after some previous artists became unavailable due to MTV’s upcoming Video Music Awards on Monday night, said Mary Bramley, coordinator of student programming.
Many students said they didn’t know who Mayer Hawthorne was before the event, and some were surprised by the tone of music for the back to school concert.
“Honestly, I was a bit surprised. He’s a bit mellow for Welcome Week,” said senior graphic design major Mark Caasi.
Freshman business major Madison Duzan said she had fun even though she didn’t know any of the songs.
“It was a way to get everyone together, there were not that many people, but it was still good,” Duzan said.
Despite the relatively low turnout, Hawthorne interacted with the students to make the concert more intimate.
“I like how Mayer Hawthorne just told them to come up to the front and be in the crowd. He tried to interact with them; I think that really helped,” Moton said.
Moton added that more freshmen came to this year’s concert.
“I’m glad there were a lot of freshmen because it was mainly for them,” she said “I hope next time more people come or spread the word.”
1. In 2010, artists B.o.B and Asher Roth came to the Siegel Center. In 2011, “Last Comic Standing” finalist Ralphie May and Aries Spears of “MADtv” came to deliver some laughs. Then in 2012, APB held a Laserpalooza where students were able to play laser tag.