The Roots Wins Concert Vote
By Jonathan Thrope '10
If students are unfamiliar with this year’s Spring Concert headliner, they will not have to work too hard to get a sound bite. The Roots, whom the Program Board announced as the lead performers at this year’s Spring Concert, are on NBC every weekday at 12:35 a.m. as the house band for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

After three surveys and several twists and turns, Program Board officially revealed this year’s performer on Monday night in a school-wide e-mail. With an overall concert budget of around $60,000, of which The Roots are receiving $40,000, Program Board is still searching for an opening act.

The concert is set for Sat., April 24 in LeFrak Gymnasium. Last year, The Roots were considered for the concert after the originally chosen band, MGMT, turned down Program Board’s offer. However, The Roots had a prior commitment, and The Decemberists were ultimately chosen.

“As someone who sat with dismay wondering how … MGMT had turned into The Decemberists a year ago, I can honestly say that the Program Board hit it out of the park this year with The Roots,” said Association of Amherst Students (AAS) Senator Romen Borsellino ’12, who serves on the Program Board Advisory Committee. “After numerous meetings and surveys in which student input was gathered, Program Board was able to turn student ideas into a viable list and ultimately chose an available and affordable band.”

In the first spring concert survey, administered in mid-November, Akon, T-Pain and Ratatat came out on top. However, Ratatat was unavailable for the date and the other two artists were out of Program Board’s price range. Less than a month later, students were asked to take a second survey, in which Kid Cudi received the majority of votes.

However, he subsequently canceled his tour plans and was unavailable. Finally, just before winter vacation, a third and final survey was sent out. The Roots received the most votes, were made an offer and accepted it.

Yin He ’10, one of the three co-chairs of the Spring Concert Committee, noted that the surveys had impressive student participation, even as the selection process dragged on. The first survey had 969 participants, while the third had 995.

The Roots will be a change of pace from concerts in the past two years, which featured Third Eye Blind and The Decemberists. The Roots became the house band for Fallon’s show in March 2009, and for nearly two decades, have been entertaining with a unique breed of hip-hop that prominently features instrumentation. “The Roots are an amazing group because they have incorporated rock, jazz, funk and rap into their performances,” said Chris Payne ’12. “I think it’s a great pick, and their live shows are amazing. It will really open up Amherst College’s eyes to real hip-hop.”

Last year, The Roots performed at Johns Hopkins University as well as Williams College for their respective spring concerts. And this year, the one-time Grammy award winners will bring their act to LeFrak. “Program Board judges the success of its Spring Concert on its attendance, and by that right, last year’s concert was a success,” said Borsellino. “While that seems misleading based on the fact that many weren’t actually happy with The Decemberists, I can safely say that this year, [it] will be a success when taking student enjoyment into account.”

Issue 14, Submitted 2010-02-10 03:44:43