Extraordinary spring storms force concert location change, cannot stifle end-of-year celebration

As UT students and faculty prepare to close out another spring semester on Rocky Top, Volapalooza: The Kickoff to Commencement arrives to give the community a jolt of excitement before the end of the school year.

One big change in this year's event is that it has been moved from its usual venue at World's Fair Park.

"Due to inclement weather, Volapalooza: The Kickoff to Commencement will be relocating to the REC Sports Intramural Fields located at 2106 Andy Holt Ave.," event coordinators said in a formal statement.

Weather was a major issue in the venue change.

"There were a lot of problems with tire tracks and mud last year," Brian Stevens, chair of the Campus Entertainment Board, said.

This year's festivities will start with Senior Hour at 6 p.m.

All seniors will be able to enter the grounds early and will receive free food from vendors including Domino's Pizza, Sweet CeCe's, Pitmasters Barbeque and Rita's Italian Ice.

According to Stevens, seniors will also get the chance to get prime seats for Volapalooza.

"It's a good chance to come when it's not crowded, and (seniors) will be getting the best seat in the house," he said. "This is our way of treating the seniors by giving them the best experience possible."

The gates for all non-seniors will open at 7 p.m., and the show will start at 7:45 p.m.

The show is free for all UT students with valid ID.

Besides a free concert and giveaways, outgoing SGA president Tommy Jervis, an SGA member of the Volapalooza committee, said the event will have a great atmosphere.

"Everyone is finally done with school and in a good mood," he said.

Volapalooza is free for all students, but that has not always been the case.

"A few years ago, it wasn't free, and the turnout wasn't desirable," Jervis said. "We are all college students, and we don't have money trees in our backyards. Having a concert of this caliber for free is huge."

But Stevens said if students each paid a fee of $5 it could triple the budget for Volapalooza.

"Vanderbilt has a two-day show and brings in big-name artists, and people always ask why we don't mimic Vanderbilt, but we don't have the money," he said.

Stevens' idea is not to charge for tickets, though. He proposes adding a $5 Volapalooza fee to tuition.

"Now, part of the student recreation fee goes toward Volapalooza, and if every student paid $5 more, we would have $150,000 more in the budget," Stevens said. "We could make Volapalooza even bigger and better."

Stevens said he doesn't think many students would be upset by this fee.

"I think students would be fine with paying a little extra to get big name artists that you would pay $20 or $30 to go to otherwise," he said. "People loved Matisyahu and Big Boi."

Although the event's venue may be different, event coordinators promise to deliver as good a show as the Campus Entertainment Board has ever put on. With Girl Talk, Matt Costa, and openers The Kingston Springs, CEB (with the support of the Cultural Attractions Committee and SGA) shows that it is not afraid to dish out a little bit of everything.

"We always aim for diversity and try to represent the campus as best we can," Kyle Zanath, senior in biological sciences and a member of the Volapalooza subcommittee, said.

While Girl Talk and Matt Costa may be more familiar to college students, opening act The Kingston Springs could be the next big thing coming out of the Nashville-area music scene.

The band, which actually calls Kingston Springs, Tenn., home, has only been putting together music for a few short years and has already found itself on the Lollapalooza lineup.

Comprised of lead singer/guitarist Ian Ferguson, bassist Alexander Geddes, drummer Matt Demaio, and jack-of-all-trades James Guldry (guitar/keys/horn), the musicians have taken some time to establish themselves in the area surrounding the Music City.

"I like to think of it as almost a boot camp preparing us, because if you can do well in Nashville, you can do well anywhere," Ferguson said.

"Although we're in Nashville a lot, we're still kind of separated," Guldry said. "I like how we have our little (home) right outside of Nashville."

The band is currently recording a full-length album, but for now, a seven-track EP, entitled "The Vacation Time," is its sole collection of music. Despite not ever having been on a tour prior to last fall, the band has learned to love the bonding experience.

"Being in the car together and ... just doing what we love, that's the best part about touring," Demaio said.

With performances at both Volapalooza and Lollapalooza on the horizon, it isn't too difficult for the musicians to look back and see how far they have come.

"It was fun going from coffee shops to bigger venues and then eventually from Nashville to out-of-state shows," Ferguson said. "We started in our basement and built from there ... so that's something we are pretty proud of."

The Kingston Springs may appear to be the smallest part of the Volapalooza lineup, but the group shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

"We're starting to get bigger shows, and we have a lot of new stuff that we want to bring to the table," Guldry said.

With the mash-up skills of Girl Talk and smooth melodies of Matt Costa, the addition of The Kingston Springs brings together what event coordinators are hoping to be the perfect combination.

After Volapalooza's last concert drew more than 8,000 in attendance, event coordinators are pursuing an even greater crowd to celebrate the end of the school year.

"Last year set a big bar for us as far as attendance goes," Zanath said. "This year, we actually upped the amount of public tickets we can sell, so we are actually striving for a little bit more."

Volapalooza: The Kickoff to Commencement begins with Senior Hour at 6 p.m. followed by gates opening for the concert at 7:00 p.m.