IAN TICE/THE HOYA Last spring, GPB brought electronic artist Calvin Harris to McDonough Arena. Tonight, Big Sean and White Panda will perform.
IAN TICE/THE HOYA
Last spring, GPB brought electronic artist Calvin Harris to McDonough Arena. Tonight, Big Sean and White Panda will perform.

The Georgetown Program Board’s Spring Kickoff Concert — featuring Big Sean, White Panda and two student DJs, Tate Tucker and Keylow — starts tonight at 10 p.m. in McDonough Arena. The concert is open to the general public, but Georgetown students earn a $15 student discount.

The GPB concert will be the kickoff to Big Sean’s college tour, which includes events at the University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University. Calvin Harris and Wiz Khalifa performed during the last two spring concerts, respectively.

The planning process for the concert began in early November when the concert committee received the concert’s official date and budget.

“We tried to get Harbin Field, but the only date that we could do it, Relay for Life had already booked the field,” GPB Vice Chair Kevin Phelan (MSB ’16) said. “Between various athletic activities, this was the only weekend available for McDonough Arena.”

The committee reached out to a middleman, who presented a list of artists available at the time of the concert. According to Phelan, the committee looked for artists who would be interesting for students and active in the spring. GPB Vice Chair Andrew Minkovitz (SFS ’17) said the board looked into holding the concert at 2 Chainz’s 9:30 Club performance, which was scheduled for two weeks before the GPB concert.

However, a clause prevented GPB from having an open concert that allowed attendees other than Georgetown students at the 2 Chainz venue.

“We need to sell out to break even, so restricting our attendance would not have been ideal,” Minkovitz said.

The committee chose hip-hop artist Big Sean, who released his second studio album “Hall of Fame” in August 2013. Minkovitz also had the idea to reach out to White Panda, an electronic duo that is known for mashups and remixes like “Midnight City.”

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about either Big Sean or White Panda,” Minkovitz said. “People are usually interested, if not in one, then the other. I thought White Panda would be good because they’re not a pure electronic act. They’re mashup artists who deal with hip-hop and other genres as well.”

According to Phelan, student interest in the concert is high, although some students are unfamiliar with the performers.

“Big Sean would be cool to see, but I hadn’t heard of White Panda until now,” Joshua Davis (COL ’17) said.

However, even students who are unfamiliar with the artists are still interested in attending.

“I don’t know that many songs by Big Sean, but I know him, and it would be fun,” Jennifer Holloway (COL ’16) said.

Others expressed disappointment with ticket costs: $20 for Georgetown students and $35 for non-students. Last year’s concert required a valid GOCard for entry.

“We deserve more of a student discount, though, since most concerts with artists like [Big Sean] are $20 anyway,” Davis said.

A date conflict with the Diplomatic Ball has also posed problems for GBP during the planning process.

“Unfortunately, the date conflict was unavoidable [dependent on the availability of McDonough Gym]. Obviously, we were never planning on having that happen,” Phelan said. “I think I’ve seen people say both ways, that they’re missing Diplomatic Ball for the spring concert and vice versa, and overall, there’s enough interest in both.”

Despite these roadblocks, the concert is almost sold out.

“We have some more tickets to sell, but not that many anymore, after this past week,” Minkovitz said.

Overall, planning has gone relatively smoothly in light of last year’s challenges. During the fall of 2012, GPB conducted a poll to gauge student interest in prospective artists; the eventual performer, Calvin Harris, was not on the list.

“The way we got Calvin Harris was so hectic and last-minute, so we tried to revise things this year,” Phelan said. “Even before we got our budget, we looked at interest within the [GPB] group. By joining, you were able to have a say and express your interest for genre and potential artists.”

However, this year’s logistical challenges remain formidable.

“We’ve had multiple meetings with a lot of heads of departments going over details that I hadn’t even considered, like where to put DPS, how many porta-potties to place and how to coordinate a potential evacuation,” Phelan said.

For those on GPB, the day of the concert will certainly be a long one.

“Our day on Friday starts at 7:15 in the morning, and we’ll be volunteering until 4 a.m. on Saturday,” Minkovitz said.

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