A sea of camouflage hats, flannel shirts, and cowboy boots filled the Abersold Recreation Center (ARC) gymnasium Sunday evening for SRU’s spring concert hosted by the University Program Board (UPB) in preparation for country artists JJ Lawson, Thompson Square, and Justin Moore.
Senior communication and emerging technology major and president of UPB, Vince Bianco, 22, said he was ecstatic for this year’s performers.
“I was more than pleased with everything,” Bianco said. “I had our amazing staff to back me up and I’m thankful for all of their help. We couldn’t have pulled it off without them.”
The concert committee, comprised of 75 members, researched and worked to prepare this year’s spring concert, hoping to find artists students would want to see perform.
“The way it goes in preparing for artists first starts with our committee making a wish list of performers we’d want to bring to campus,” Bianco said. “So we reach out to agents to see if they’re available and throughout the year we’ll also reach out to students through online surveys to get a feel of who they’d like to see come to campus.”
The contacting process can be challenging at times, Bianco said, but he praised his committee and his advisor Julie Varnish for helping to keep him calm.
This year’s set of performers were generally easy to work with, Bianco said.
“You run into small issues every now and then,” Bianco said. “But we were able to work everything out I think.”
Many performers were also generous with their time and willingness to perform, Bianco explained.
“Thompson Square actually flew in that morning,” Bianco said. “So we were very grateful to have them.”
The months of preparation to create a concert UPB hopes students will love can be a difficult task, Bianco said.
“Everyone’s watching you,” Bianco said. “You want to please everybody but it can sometimes be hard to do. I thought my job would be the easiest thing in the world. You book the stage, you book the artist, simple! But it takes a lot more than that.”
Bianco said the UPB concert committee began researching for the spring concert after Mac Miller performed in December.
“We spent all of winter break looking for someone to perform,” Bianco said.
This year’s spring concert series show opened with up-and-coming musician JJ Lawson warming up the crowd. Lawson opened for country music duo Keifer and Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square performing songs from their new album “Just Feels Good” such as “If I Didn’t Have You,” “I Can’t Outrun You,” and many more. They also performed favorites from their previous self-titled album “Thompson Square” such as “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” “I Got You,” and others.
Thompson Square also surprised the audience with their cover of some chart-topping hits such as “Some Nights” by Fun, “Locked Out of Heaven” originally performed by Bruno Mars, and “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty, just to name a few.
Country artist Justin Moore finally took the stage as he rose from beneath his platform with many lights introducing his presence.
The crowd went wild when Moore performed songs from his album “Outlaws Like Me” with songs like “Redneck Side,” “Guns,” “Til My Last Day,” and a special tribute to loved ones with the song “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”. Moore encouraged the audience to spark their lighters or wave their cell phones in the air to pay respect. He even called out specific members of the audience saying, “You in the pink dress, you’re not too cool to do this! Get your cell phone out!”
Moore also performed songs from his first self-titled album, “Justin Moore” with songs like “Small Town USA” and “Grandpa”.
Moore proudly exclaimed, “This is no rap country, or pop country, this is twang country! And if you don’t like it, you can pack your stuff up and get the hell out.” The crowd roared at Moore’s statement.