The dust has settled on another Sun God. The A.S. Concerts and Events office’s $540,000 behemoth of a concert went off with a few minor glitches, like running out of student wristbands on the first day and a few performance disappointments; but despite these small problems, Sun God 2011 was a relative success.
While the concert had its successes, student tickets were a big factor in drawing the ire of students who didn’t get their desired wristbands. A month ago, guest tickets sold out in four days. Then, the day before the festival, student wristbands ran out on the first day of distribution.
This is the third time in Sun God history that all 17,000 student tickets and 3,000 guest tickets sold out, and the first time that student tickets ran out on the first day.
It’s frustrating not to be able to bring friends to the party of the year, and worse to pay $23 in student fees for the festival and still be denied entrance. But given the “caging” of the festival on RIMAC Arena starting in 2009, and RIMAC’s 20,000 maximum capacity, there’s not much that A.S. Concerts and Events could have done to make things run more smoothly. The office can only sell as many wristbands as RIMAC can hold, and had already cut the number of guest tickets so more undergraduates could attend.
When it comes to wristbands, it’s a lose-lose situation for the organizers: Increasing the number of wristbands would lower the number of guest tickets sold. And given how poorly that strategy went with guest tickets, that solution wouldn’t exactly please everyone either.
On Thursday, sales started out on a bad note with ASCE choosing to open the line more than an hour before its announced 12 p.m. distribution time. ASCE Media Liaison Oliver Zhang claimed that this was done in order to prevent unnecessary line build up, but the move that ultimately hurt students who planned on waiting in line within the time frame set by ASCE.
Still, the line moved briskly, and was nothing compared to the epic lines that stretched all the way to Warren College in 2009. Plus, with tickets on sale for seven hours, there was time for all but students with the most packed schedules to retrieve their wristbands.
Though students are ultimately responsible for picking up wristbands themselves, ASCE could have avoided some of the anger by altering its marketing methods.
The office’s announcements that wristbands would be available on both Thursday and Friday implied that tickets would be available both days, providing a false sense of security. Instead, the office should advertise that ticket lines will open on Thursday at noon and will reopen on Friday if wristbands are still available. That way, students will feel more compelled to actually get their tickets when the lines open instead of at the last minute.
Though Sun God primarily advertises the big name artists it manages to snag, some students just came to dance. Others fled RIMAC field after mistaking Big Sean for Wiz Khalifa (according to Big Sean’s Twitter feed on Friday: “Today is just not a good day for me”).
Last year, the dance tent hit the 3,000-person capacity at 9 p.m., causing it to be shut down and cutting short DJ Z-Trip’s set. In response, ASCE decided to turn the tent into a stage instead — an open arena, flanked by pillars, that was a smaller version of the main stage. The stage lost the enclosed, club-like atmosphere of the tent, which, despite the overcrowding issue, was a crowd favorite in years past.
Still, the new, open dance stage managed to keep the character of last year’s tent without any space issues. In the end, the stage is a worthy compromise between having 1,000 students angrily try to push their way into a tiny structure and having no place to learn how to dougie at all.
Due to possible conflicts in scheduling large campuswide events, attempts to permanently reserve the seventh Friday of Spring Quarter as the Sun God Festival date have proven unsuccessful.
Sports Facilities and Programs Director Don Chadwick said he supports the idea but believes that unforeseeable circumstances could make institutionalizing the change unlikely.
A.S. media liaison Oliver Zhang said the main reason Associate Vice President of Concerts and Events Wong wanted to have the seventh Friday of every Spring Quarter earmarked is so that other departments could plan their events around it.
“Brian got a call from Revelle College [over the summer] asking what date the Sun God Festival was so that they could plan their events around it,” Zhang said. “Brian could not give them an answer.”
Chadwick said UCSD officials also want to accommodate the seventh week date, but there are also other on- and off-campus events that may be scheduled during the same week, such as regional sports conferences.
“[For] real major events, such as the U.S. Open, we will know a few years in advance, but most other events aren’t like that,” Chadwick said. “Suppose our softball team does really well one year; we would want to be open for some home-turf post-season games, which are usually controlled by the conference we’re in.”
According to Chadwick, if UCSD had to host a post-season game, the date of the Sun God Festival would have to change, as UCSD would not be able to handle the influx of visitors.
“The Sun God Festival is just so large — with almost 20,000 participating — that you can’t really do much else during that time,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick said he recognizes the problems of event planning.
“We understand the difficulties of planning for an event of such magnitude and we want to ensure seventh week, but sometimes there are just [conferences or events] beyond our control,” Chadwick said.
Wong has been in contact with administrators since the beginning of January regarding a tentative hold for the festival.
By the end of February, Chadwick decided the move wasn’t feasible, though he and Wong established an agreement to ensure that the date of the festival will be announced by the first week of Fall Quarter.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue and Campus Events Manager Alex Kushner told Wong that some faculty members want to see the Sun God Festival moved to a Saturday, because they recognize that the Friday event encourages students to skip class.
“There was a push to change Sun God to Saturday, but there isn’t consensus for this across administration,” Zhang said. “One of the reasons that some administrators want to change Sun God to Saturday is that Friday is a school day and the festival encourages ditching. One way we’re trying to address this problem is starting the festival at 2 p.m. instead of 12 p.m.”
Another benefit of holding the concert on a Friday is that it deters non-UCSD members and community members from attending.
“One reason that it should be kept on Friday is that there is no free parking on Friday,” Zhang said. “This helps keep the festival for the students. In 2007, we had a lot of [non-UCSD students] and the majority of the arrests were of [non-UCSD students].”
Hosting the event on Saturday would also make it difficult for the Concert and Events office to clean up afterwards.
“We have an agreement with RIMAC to return the field by Sunday [following the festival] at noon,” Zhang said. “If the festival were to be held on Saturday, there would be no way for us to do the clean up and dismantling in time.”
Wong is continuing to negotiate with Chadwick to have next year’s date of the festival announced before the agreed-upon date of the first week of Fall Quarter — ideally during the summer or the end of the previous academic year.
The line-up for the Sun God festival will be announced during the second week of Spring Quarter.