Sound of SUB festival brings Noah Kahan, Chelsea Cutler
Kathryn Muchnick | Friday, March 24, 2023
TikTok folk-favorite Noah Kahan and rising indie electronic-pop star Chelsea Cutler will play to a sold-out Stepan Center this Friday for Student Union Board’s (SUB) music festival.
SUB, Notre Dame’s student programming organization, typically hosts two concerts a year — one in the fall and one in the spring. This year, though, the concert committee consolidated into one Sound of SUB music festival, featuring two headliners and four openers, as well as food trucks and games.
Senior Nicole Campbell, chair of the concerts committee within SUB, said that the idea for a music festival arose to appeal to a wider group of students.
“Even if a student didn’t recognize [the artist] you’re bringing, there’s a really cool event because there’s a festival — there’s games, there’s food, there’s a bunch of different artists to see,” Campbell said. “It was going to be something that would draw in a lot of students even if the names might not have been … super mega famous artists.”
Noah Kahan, a singer-songwriter from Vermont, writes about New England on his most recent album, “Stick Season.” He was thrown into stardom after the album’s lead single went viral, garnering him 121 million streams of the single on Spotify. Currently on tour, Kahan has played at multiple universities the past few weeks, including Illinois State University, Indiana University and Purdue University.
Chelsea Cutler began making music in her Amherst dorm room in 2017, before releasing her debut album, “How to Be Human” in 2020. That year, Cutler also released a version of her song “Crazier Things” featuring Kahan.
Cutler and Kahan will be joined by Briscoe, the Austin-based project of Truett Heintzelman and Philip Lupton.
Campbell has been looking for headliners since April of last year, and SUB submitted an official inquiry request in June. SUB works with several music agencies with a history of working with universities, who propose a list of artists that the concert committee narrows down.
“The overwhelming favorite was Noah Kahan on that list, and we were, as a committee, super, super excited to have him,” Campbell said.
After realizing the potential for two headliners, the concert committee looked into bringing Chelsea Cutler.
“SUB has not been able to bring a female headlining artist in a really long time,” Campbell said. “I remember the reaction of one of my committee members [when Cutler’s name came up], just like ‘Oh my gosh, I love her. That’s so exciting.’ And I was like: ‘Cool. That’s the reaction I want the entire student body to have when they see these names.’”
SUB cannot announce the concert headliners until after their contracts are finalized, a process which involves a lot of back-and-forth between SUB and the artist’s representatives.
Senior Milena Fava-Pastilha, co-director of programming who oversees the concert committee, said that the graphics SUB uses to publicize the concert must also be approved by the artist’s agency.
“The artists have to approve the way that we use their name and image and all that,” she added.
Sound of SUB will feature 3 student openers — Lucy Bullock, Libby Garnett and Luke Holen. All three are Acousticafe veterans, which is SUB’s weekly performance opportunity for Notre Dame students.
“Having performed at Acousticafe, we knew that they were comfortable on stage and in that setting,” Fava-Pastilha said. “We didn’t want it to be overwhelming to somebody who maybe we knew had music, but we hadn’t seen on stage.”
Tickets went on sale on March 6 through the Student Shop, and many students had to wait as the website crashed due to high demand.
“I joked that the two hours it took for us to sell out the Stepan Center aged me by probably about 20 years,” Campbell said.
The Stepan Center’s capacity is 2000, but after factoring in production, 80+ volunteers and guests of the artists, SUB was able to sell about 1,800 tickets for $18 each. For students who did not get tickets, a waitlist form was made available.
In addition to the musical acts, entrance to Sound of SUB will grant students access to two food trucks — Junbuggies and Wiener Shack — as well as face painting, a photo booth and a raffle for free merchandise from the artists. Campbell even received her woodshop certification to build a Plinko board for the activities.
Campbell said that the festival format of Sound of SUB fulfills SUB’s mission of programming for all Notre Dame students, even if they’re not familiar with the musical acts.
“We do have really amazing artists coming in. We’re super excited about them,” Campbell said. “But then we also have the rest of this [festival] to build something really special and to hopefully bring the community together.”