For a small school in the middle of nowhere, UR Concerts works to put us on the map. Every year, this club brings big names in music to the River Campus for concerts with discounted prices for the Rochester student body. With Dandelion Day coming up this Friday, I wanted to interview UR Concerts President Nicole Itzkowitz to find out what goes into planning these shows and to (maybe) get an inside scoop about who will be taking the stage on D-Day night.
I recently sat down with Nicole to talk about her work as ‘Prezowitz’ (my highly-original nickname combining her title and her last name if you didn’t catch that). And here’s our conversation.
Matt Lerner (ML): “What is UR Concerts and what does the club do on campus?”
Nicole Itzkowitz (NI): “UR Concerts is the musical programming board on campus. We put on three big shows per year, usually one big show in the Fall, one in the Spring, and then the Dandelion Day show. We also set up a student stage for both Yellow Jacket Weekend and Dandelion Day where student performers have the chance to perform for their peers. We also do smaller programming, such as Roc Thursday events, where local bands perform at the Drama House or in the May Room. We also have a weekly concert series called Friday Night Live in Starbucks, where student performers play acoustic sets every Friday night!”
ML: “How long have you been involved with Concerts, and what roles do you have/have held?”
NI: “I went to my first UR Concerts General Interest Meeting as a wee little first semester freshman and have stuck with it ever since. My sophomore year I was elected to be hospitality chair, where I was responsible for providing hospitality needs for the artists. That meant setting up dressing rooms, ordering food, picking up supplies and driving the artists between the airport, hotel and campus. My junior year I served as co-President in the Spring semester, where I learned how to oversee all of our programming and really got familiar with all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a successful show. Now as a senior, I’m serving my third and final semester as President!”
ML “What is your favorite memory from working with an artist or band?”
NI: “There’s so many! All of the artists have been so cool and super fun to work with. I guess one of my favorites was when I was hanging out in the green room with The White Panda after they performed on Dandelion Day in 2015 and they let me try on their iconic panda masks. It was awesome.”
ML: “What is the most ridiculous request or favor an artist or band has asked Concerts to do?”
NI: “Dandelion Day. 2014. Busta Rhymes. I was working as the hospitality manager at that time so I left my name and phone number in his dressing room in case Busta needed anything. At some point his ‘hype man’ named Spliff called me to request about $400 worth of very specific Jamaican food, and I had to search the entire city of Rochester for the dishes they wanted. Also, Busta Rhymes refused to speak directly to me, and would instead tell things to ‘Spliff the Hype Man’ who would in turn tell them to me, even if I was standing right there. It was a very strange experience altogether.”
ML: “Throughout your time in Concerts, what has been your favorite performance and why?”
NI: “I’m going to have to go with Hoodie Allen in the fall of 2015. In high school I was a HUGE Hoodie fan… I’ve seen him in concert like 7 times, have all his CDs, signed drumsticks, etc. So when we decided we wanted them to perform here I literally lost my mind I was so excited. The show was amazing and he even did a little freestyle specifically about the U of R, which I helped him brainstorm for! Afterwards we had an after party for Hoodie and his band and the UR Concerts E-Board and it was super fun just hanging out with everyone, especially his drummer who I’ve always had a little bit of a celeb crush on. The 17-year-old Nicole inside of me was crying tears of joy.”
ML: “If you had to pick, who are three artists or bands that you would’ve loved to see come to campus?”
NI: “I think Haim would have been an incredible show, plus they all just seem so cool and I would have loved to hang out with them. We tried to get them to play this year but they got pretty popular pretty quickly so they’re out of our price range at this point. I would also personally have loved to seen Flume and MGMT here because I think they’d be so fun!”
ML: “What is something that goes into working with performers that you think would be most surprising for the student body to know?”
NI: “Nearly every artist I’ve met doesn’t fit into that big-shot-drama-queen-rock-star stereotype at all. A lot of the time they’re super down to Earth and goofy and really just normal people who say normal people things and make normal people mistakes. I remember when Young the Giant came to play in 2014, they forgot to bring drumsticks with them and didn’t realize until right before they were going on stage. It was hilarious because they were just like ‘oh shoot now what do we do.’”
ML: “So, with D-Day coming up this Friday, any inside information about the headliner?”
NI: “All I can say is that I am SO EXCITED. Be prepared for the best Dandelion Day concert in the history of Dandelion Day.”
Check out the Dandelion Day show at 8PM on the Zornow Field outside of the Goergen Athletic Center. Artist TBA, but definitely gonna be the best one yet.
UR Concerts with The White Panda, Dandelion Day 2015.