Last Friday’s concert at Carnesecca Arena has been called a lot of things.
Its official title was Urban Music Fest. Its unofficial, but more accurate, name was Black Music Fest, the original name of Haraya’s annual music festival. It’s been called a success, a failure, a drawn-out profanity fest, a helluva time, and everything in between.
One thing the concert definitely was, was a step forward in St. John’s recent efforts to host large-scale concerts. Whether it’s a step in the right direction, well, that’s debatable.
The biggest complaint concerning this concert was the narrow demographic it appealed to.
Like Haraya President Patricia Ambroise said, this concert should have been called Black Music Fest.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Haraya, who co-sponsored the concert, is the official Pan-African organization at St. John’s. So to ask that the concert showcase anyone other than who Haraya’s members wanted would be like asking President George W. Bush to nominate a liberal Supreme Court Justice.
Why would they?
This was not a concert whose main purpose was to draw the most diverse crowd possible. If Haraya wanted to do that, there would have been at least a few inexpensive local acts opening for Papoose and Elephant Man.
There wasn’t, and that’s more than fine.
For Haraya and the Campus Activities’ concert committee, this concert was a success, bar none. Despite the hours that saw only a DJ playing recorded music, the crowd of 1,429 was into it. People were dancing, singing, and clapping – the majority of the crowd was obviously having fun.
Even freshman soccer star Gary Lewis got in on the fun as he found his way on stage before getting yanked off by a couple of Public Safety officers.
And for the concert’s critics, mainly composed of white, Long Island, rock and roll types that crave a Suburban Music Fest, your voice is definitely legitimate and necessary.
Like I said, there was no reason for Haraya to book anyone other than who they wanted. With over $80,000 in their budget, the Pan-African organization has the capital and man-power to drop $50,000 on a large-scale concert.
The problem is that there is no organization at St. John’s with that kind of financial status. The Italian or Gaelic societies could not throw a concert anywhere nearly as big as Haraya’s was, even if they wanted to.
The students on this campus who complain about not having Maroon 5 or Green Day visit St. John’s have to understand that, without the man-power and sense of identity that Haraya has so successfully demonstrated over the years, that will never change.
So, for now, the administration, namely the concert committee, needs to represent those students outside of Haraya’s demographic. The next concert on this campus that is not thrown by Haraya has to appeal to a wider audience.
It’s all about money. And until an organization has the kind of finances that Haraya does, concerts will never appeal to a wider demographic.