This past Saturday marked the close of a successful semester for Amherst’s WAMH Concert Series. WAMH, Amherst College’s radio and media station, has been funding concerts that feature a broad range of artists for a few years. Lindon Chen ’15, Tony Russo ’15 and Kat Dominguez ’16 spearheaded the organization process this year. The Student talked with them to hear their insights on the experience this past spring and their hopes for the next installment of the Concert Series, coming in the fall of 2014.
Lindon Chen ’15, one of WAMH’s primary planners, looked back on the experience as a rewarding way to follow his passions and to expose Amherst students to new artists that many hadn’t heard of.
Chen said, “I want to do this for a career. Music is my passion, so doing these concerts and getting funding from the school has been awesome. My mom is a professional violinist, so I did a lot of music as a kid. I don’t want to follow her exact path but I have always known that I wanted to be involved in music, so this is has been a great opportunity for me to do things my own way,” Chen said.
When choosing potential artists for performances on campus, Chen stated that they try to find a variety of styles, often focusing on music with electronic influences.
“What I look for in potential artists are things that we like and that we think would be accessible to the school. We have focused a lot on electronic music because it is great for a party-inducing environment.”
WAMH strives to find music that reconciles the rift between artists that are reputable in the music community and artists the general public might know or like.
March 8th: The Underachievers and Octo Octa
The first concert of the 2014 series took place in O’Connor Commons and featured two artists: The Underachievers and Octo Octa. This was the only WAMH concert of the semester held at this venue. Unfortunately, this concert also received a smaller audience than it hoped for.
“That was probably our least successful turnout of the concerts this semester … O’Connor Commons is kind of a dead space and a lot of people just didn’t go,” recalled Chen.
The night was not a complete let down, however. Chen and some friends ended up bringing Octo Octa back to Marsh House later in the night, where he played a spontaneous DJ set that ended the night on a positive and unexpected note.
March 29th: Wave Racer and Trippy Turtle
The second concert of the series faced a few complications of its own, but in general was a success. WAMH partnered with Marsh for this concert, and the new venue proved to be much more conducive to attracting a crowd. Due to weather complications, Trippy Turtle arrived at Amherst later than expected.
“He didn’t get to play his full set, but I think people still really enjoyed it. I think that Trippy Turtle really helped put WAMH on the map in terms of these concerts. The concert was a loud, crazy party atmosphere.”
April 4th: Ryan Hemsworth and Spazzkid
The April 4th show took place in Seeley, and was probably the biggest event of the semester.
“That show was really successful, we went over capacity for that,” said Chen. “He ended up playing a two hour set rather than the one hour set that was in his contract just because he had a really good time.”
April 12th: Kelela and Lakutis
The final installment of the 2014 WAMH Concert Series took place this past Saturday in Marsh. Rapper Lakutis opened the show and brought energized the crowd. The headliner for the final show was female artist Kalela, who is known for her incredible voice and her edgy hip-hop-meets-electronic vibe. Before the event, Chen predicted a strong turnout in terms of the Five College community, because Kelela is very popular at both Smith and Hampshire.
“Kelela is more of a cutting-edge artist, so I feel like she might be a lot less successful in terms of the Amherst College music taste.”
After the event, Chen remarked that it was a very successful show.
“In terms of artfulness, this show was probably the best and most sophisticated of the semester. Her live vocals were breathtaking … she was so seriously professional and dedicated to perform the best she could.”
In addition to bringing some great new artists to Amherst, the WAMH Concert Series had a larger effect on the campus as a whole.
“One interesting thing that has resulted from the WAMH concerts is that during our concert weekends, Dean Mitton-Shannon, the Dean of Student Conduct, reported that attendance at the socials has been at a record low. We didn’t realize the school-wide impact that these concerts would have, but the faculty has been really encouraging of them.”
Looking ahead to next year, WAMH has big plans for the Fall 2014 concert series, aiming to execute five concerts in the upcoming Fall semester.
“The good thing about next semester is that the Powerhouse is opening. It was a power plant that is going to be converted into a performance space. The capacity there will be around 450, so we can hold bigger concerts.”
Some potential acts for the fall of 2014 may include MK, Chrome Sparks, LIZ, Saint Pepsi and Jacques Greene. One of WAMH’s main challenges is toeing the line between affordable yet recognizable artists. We’re hoping that this successful string of events will convince the campus that WAMH can tap into a talent base that might still be largely unknown — because we don’t have [a huge budget], the artists we bring are up-and-coming,” said Russo.
Russo also added that WAMH hopes to expand the concerts towards covering more types of talent, such as comedian and student performers.
“Additionally, over the next year we hope to get more students engaged in bringing all sorts of talent to campus, streamlining the process and opening up to more voices. And, a new set of DJ equipment in the WAMH studio is allowing students themselves to become the talent and to DJ for parties.”
The WAMH Concerts have proven to be a great way to bring people from different social circles together under one common interest.
Chen concluded, “I’ve seen more and more people at the concerts from all different social crowds, which has been really exciting. I’m hoping these concerts will bring people together with one unifying objective, which is music.”