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Rain dampens band, attendees, not spirits

John-Paul Witt | Monday, November 13, 2006

Despite the leaky roof that let rain into the Stepan Center – and onto Ben Folds – Friday night, 1,800 students jammed into the building to hear the singer’s unique style of piano rock.

“We knew if it rained it was going to leak, but we didn’t have any other options due to the high cost and limited availability of the JACC,” said Student Union Board manager Patrick Vassel.

Students questioned SUB’s choice of the Stepan Center.

The Stepan Center was the largest venue SUB could provide, Vassel said, even though the building was not in the best condition. SUB worked to increase the concert’s capacity from 1,500 occupants to 1,800 to allow as many students as possible to attend.

And Folds made the most of the situation, Vassel said, deciding to “make up a few songs” about the rain rather than end the show early. Folds sang an expanded set for 90 minutes – 15 minutes longer than expected.

Students in attendance said Folds handled the environmental setbacks well. Sophomore Tim Politano, who “loved the music,” said Stepan was “all right, especially because [Folds] was poking fun at it.”

Piskurich also appreciated the way Folds dealt with the rain, saying the musician’s “charismatic nature” made it worthwhile.

The concert was a huge success for SUB. Vassel said SUB expected to sell out due to Folds’ popularity, but he “did not anticipate selling out as quickly as we did.”

“No one can remember the last Notre Dame SUB concert that was this successful,” he said.

Although more students could have been accommodated in the Joyce Center, Vassel said the facility was “prohibitively expensive” and SUB was able to obtain cheaper access to the Stepan Center, controlled by the Student Activities Office.

The sale of tickets generated an estimated $24,000 in profit for SUB, which Vassel said would go toward the cost of the spring concert.

When asked about potential spring concert artists, Vassel said SUB would take a “weekend to recover” before planning for next semester.