Every year about mid-way through the spring semester, the question begins to circulate.
“Who is playing Art Attack?”
And every year, the answer seems to be divisive, and honestly pretty lackluster.
I am not setting out to write an attack on SEE. Short for Student Entertainment Events, SEE brings different acts to the university throughout the year, ranging from comedy shows to free movies, all culminating in the highly anticipated end of year concert Art Attack.
However, there seems to be nowhere else to place blame for why Art Attack seems to have lost its excitement over the past few years.
As a senior, I have watched Art Attack transform drastically over the span of four years. My freshman year, SEE brought the band MGMT, an indie favorite and the last “rock” act I have seen at this university, and I predict it will be the last one we will see for a long time.
Reviews were mixed. MGMT was a decent get, but their performance left students wondering if going was even worth it. However, in the subsequent years, the choice of performers became much more skewed toward top 40 artists. My sophomore year it was Big Sean, and last year’s performance was Jessie J and the Chainsmokers, who were only famous for their song “Selfie” at that point.
This year, with the announcement of T-Pain and Lil Dicky, there seems to be some sort of blatant pattern emerging. Art Attack is changing from an event that brought in a diverse mix of acts based on genre, to one that seems to be focusing on selling tickets based on big name popular artists, with an emphasis on pop and hip-hop acts.
Don’t get me wrong, I would rather see rap than rock or country. However, I feel there is no longer any intrigue around what kind of performer we will see at the end of the year show. It will be someone who has had a top 40 hit within the last five years.
This fact alone does not annoy me, rather it is the caliber of performers we are now left to see. Other Maryland schools like Towson and UMBC always seem to get better acts than this university. In recent years, they have had Wiz Khalifa, Macklemore and now Fetty Wap, just to name a few. I am consistantly baffled as to why, as the largest school in Maryland and the state’s flagship university, we always seem to get less relevant acts than these other institutions.
The only reason I can give for the uninspiring acts is that SEE spends its money on so many other things throughout the year, by the time May rolls around we are left with marginally famous performers. I may be in the minority here, but I personally would rather have fewer events around campus throughout the year if it means we can get better artists in May. I am a fan of the comedy shows, which SEE usually does a good job with; however, SEE is also a host of many random events throughout the year which I, nor anyone else that I know, have ever attended.
I know SEE struggles with a lack of funds. However, there is also a certain amount of money built into student fees each year to provide for entertainment and events. I just wish that in my four years I had seen that going toward something current and relevant, not bands and performers that elicit mixed reactions at best.
As a final random gripe, I would just like to say I wish they would put Art Attack back in the football stadium instead of the Xfinity Center. What is the point of having a spring concert if you aren’t going to have it outside?
In the end, not many seem that bothered by the lack of enticing acts, mostly because, like myself, people have given up hope that SEE will ever bring someone worth getting excited about.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Eva Rinaldi.
Julie Kearney is a senior English major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.