Jesse McCartney Concert Met with Mixed Feelings

The end of the academic year here at Saint Anselm is traditionally marked by the annual Spring Weekend celebration, which features a variety of events that usually include a concert hosted by the Campus Activities Board. CAB recently announced that the artist for this year’s Spring Weekend Concert is Jesse McCartney, a singer-songwriter who rose to stardom in the early 2000s.

McCartney gained popularity in the early 2000s. In 2003, he released his first solo album which featured one of his most popular songs to date, “Beautiful Soul.” His career as a teen heartthrob in the 2000s further increased with his guest appearances on Disney Channel shows such as Suite Life of Zack & Cody as well as Hannah Montana. This past March, McCartney released a new single, “Better With You,” which will also appear on his upcoming album.

The announcement of Jesse McCartney as the Spring Weekend artist was met with mixed reactions from the student body. Freshman Jordan Cook is looking forward to the concert. “I’ve heard a few of his songs when I was younger. He wasn’t my favorite artist but had some hits that I definitely didn’t mind listening to on the radio. I was a little bit surprised [when they announced Jesse as the artist] but a concert is a concert so I can’t complain with it. I do think it would be a great idea to give students more say in who we choose, like in an election.”

Sophomore Emily Provencher agreed about the need to involve students in the process. “I’d definitely like to see more input from the student body,” she said, “but I understand that this can be difficult when you can’t always disclose all the information. I enjoy a great throwback like Jesse, but I’m not sure I’d choose for it to be my whole concert experience.”

Sophomore Emerald Shea was not impressed by the artist selection for Spring Weekend. “At first when I heard that Jesse would be the artist, I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was actually going to happen.” Emerald does not plan to attend the concert, citing different taste in music as her reason for skipping out. “I’d love to see different, more popular artists coming to our college, but understand that this isn’t always possible due to budgeting and school size.”

Other students, like senior Sam Brandeis, are planning to go to the concert even though they are not pleased with the artist. Sam has never been a die-hard fan of McCartney, but he plans to attend the concert regardless of who performs. “My first reaction to hearing Jesse McCartney was the Spring Weekend Artist was ‘I hope he shows up,’” Sam said, referencing the infamous T-Pain cancellation in 2016. “I have yet to be able to see an artist perform at spring weekend, and I hope McCartney is the exception. I honestly have nothing better to do.” Like his fellow students, he wishes that student input would be taken into account more but understood that “too many suggestions create too much havoc.”

Ryan Whalen, who is currently studying abroad and won’t be at the concert had a hard time masking his displeasure with the artist selection. “My first reaction was pure joy. I was and still am so happy I am not missing out on a real spring concert.” He went on to elaborate, “I am paying to come to the school and would like to have a say or vote on the artist.” Ryan says that he has brought this complaint up before and that he has been told to join CAB. “My reply is: I did join CAB for two and a half semesters and it was as though I had no voice,” he continued. Whalen went on to explain that he felt as though he never experienced a Spring Concert at Saint Anselm, “T pain cancels, Clean Bandit’s performance was nothing more than hip swinging, and now Jessie?”

Junior Alec Flynn posted this image in the SAC 2019 Class Facebook group to protest McCartney’s concert.

Some students took to social media to express their distaste with the announcement of McCartney as the headliner for Spring Weekend. Junior Alec Flynn was one of these students, posting in the Class of 2019 Facebook group that he would be boycotting the concert and encouraged other frustrated students to do the same. “I’m abhorred,” Alec said when asked what he thought of McCartney being hired as the concert artist. When asked if he was a fan of McCartney growing up, Flynn stated, “I liked the power rangers, too, but you don’t see me walking around campus in a red jumpsuit.” Alec Flynn, like other students, expressed a desire to see more input from students in the process but admits that this would be a difficult process, “Once you do that then there are hoops to jump through. CAB would say ‘okay here is who we can afford’ then when there’s a clear front-runner or someone not half-bad they would say ‘oh well his/her music isn’t very appropriate or Anselmian’ or whatever. Bottom line is this school has messed up a spring concert for 3 years in a row now, and there seems to be no one really calling them out for it.”

Abbie Reynolds, the student in charge of the Campus Activities Board, was transparent about the process for selecting a spring artist. “CAB works with a middle agent that gives us a list of artists that are within our budget, and then we are able to take a look at the list and decide on a couple of different artists. Our middle agent will go back and see if any artists are interested in us!” She explained that there are many factors that need to be taken into account when searching for artists, such as cost and finding artists willing to perform “a clean set that will respect our Benedictine and Catholic values.”

As for the planning process, there is a Spring Weekend Committee that consists of smaller sub-committees that handle specific areas of making the whole weekend of events possible. “The spring weekend committee as a whole is for anyone that wants to be involved in planning spring weekend.” When asked about input, Reynolds explained that due to contract negotiations, it is not possible for CAB to release information prior to the signing of the contract. However, all students are welcome to attend CAB meetings to voice their opinion.

“Our meetings are always open to the whole student body and we always want to hear student input! We always have members in CAB listening to what they hear in Dav or from their friends to get a gauge of what students want,” Reynolds said.

CAB relies entirely on student volunteers for all of the events they host on campus. CAB meetings are usually held on Wednesday nights and are open for all students to attend.

In addition to the Spring Weekend Concert, on April 26 CAB will be hosting a “Found Footage Festival,” which is a comedy show built off of old VHS tapes found at yard sales and thrift stores. “It’s like America’s Funniest Home Videos, but better!” Reynolds explained. In addition to this, there will be Paint Dance Party hosted by CAB and SGA on Saturday, April 28, the night after Jesse’s concert.

Cover image from Fairmont State University.

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