BY CHASE GORSKI
The annual Gullfest concert that takes place each spring now has a counterpart in the fall.
SU’s Student Organization for Activity Planning (SOAP) has added another concert to the yearly calendar and it is set to happen this semester.
On Nov. 30 Eric Paslay, joined by Love and Theft, will make up SOAP’s fall concert in the Holloway Hall Auditorium. The event, planned by SOAP Concert Chair Shelby Tittle, will bring the country genre back to SU.
Paslay is a singer and songwriter known for songs like “Friday Night” and “Song About a Girl.” Paslay is rumored to be working on his next album “Dressed in Black.”
Love and Theft is a group made up of Eric Gunderson, Stephen Barker Liles and Brian Bandas. They have been together since the mid 2000s and are best known for their platinum selling song “Angel Eyes” from 2011. They most recently released their album “Whiskey on My Breath” in 2015.
Last year Salisbury hosted an event with GrooveBoston, but Tittle felt improvements could be made.
“It wasn’t very well attended, we needed to market it better,” Tittle said. “Before that I don’t think there has been any ‘big name’ artists other than Gullfest in the spring.”
In her first semester as Concert Chair, Tittle took the idea of a fall concert and ran with it after hearing about some backlash from Gullfest. Many students have voiced their displeasure with the past two Gullfest events, and Tittle feels this fall concert is a great way to help boost the bad reputation.
“I wanted to try out country, and I’m hoping if that brings a decent crowd people will be excited about Gullfest as well,” Tittle said. “Hopefully people will see this concert and think Gullfest will be different this upcoming year.”
Director of Center for Student Involvement and Leadership Tricia Garvey Smith has also had concerns regarding the spring event, specifically regarding the lack of attendance in comparison to the funds spent on the event.
“It frustrates me to see so much money spent and then 600 to 700 people going, which sounds like a lot of people but not when you’ve spent nearly $200,000,” Garvey Smith said.
Garvey Smith also feels that there is a lack of awareness surrounding Gullfest’s budget amongst students. While the budget is substantial, it is nowhere near the amount of money needed for most superstars in the music industry.
In order to alleviate some of the financial concerns, Tittle has gone in the direction of allocating a portion of the budget elsewhere.
“I think that it is great to have a smaller scale concert where we can do something like country music that we know our students like,” Garvey Smith said. “I think it will help to raise awareness of Gullfest in the spring and hype students up.”
Tittle also feels that if SOAP were to split money to make sure more popular, well-known artists would come as opposed to one big artist and a handful of unknown groups, attendance would be greater.
“I was not a person that does stuff on campus before SOAP, so I wouldn’t go unless I knew the artists,” Tittle said. “I know there’s a lot of people that are like me so if they know who it is hopefully they will come.”
The small-scale concert will be in Holloway Hall, which seats up to 700 people. Tittle wanted to explore other indoor concert ideas besides Maggs Gym after it was announced that Gullfest was taking place there.
The lesser scale also gives SOAP a better guarantee of attendance. With such a limited number of tickets, the odds of selling out are much higher.
“We haven’t had a fall concert since 2013, it was extremely successful we sold out the first night since it was limited,” Garvey Smith said. “It was a great show with good energy and a lot of fun.”
The decision to have Love and Theft opening for Paslay came much easier to Tittle than other negotiations have been in the past. The well-known fiasco in which Logic backed out of his contract last spring has made many weary about the process.
The selection process comes down to feasibility in terms of budget as well as what artists or groups are available at that time. SOAP typically uses a middleman service to handle the contract negotiations, and is using Concert Managers for the fall.
“I told Concert Managers our budget and they sent a list of artists that we could afford, I picked out three or four and we sent out the offer letters,” Tittle said. “I did not think it would work out because these were my first two choices, but it was really easy.”
The sole rough patch that Tittle experienced was Love and Theft’s concert on Dec. 1 in Nashville, but it was solved once SOAP agreed that the group could perform an acoustic set.
Tickets for the show this month are set to go on sale on Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. and SOAP will cap the maximum limit of tickets at 700. Tickets will be $5 for those who buy on the first day, and $10 for any day thereafter.