Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Behind Program Board’s pick for Spring Fling

Photo used under of Creative Commons license
Photo used under of Creative Commons license

No student organization gets picked apart quite as much as Program Board after its Spring Fling headliner announcement.

The announcement came Sunday, as Jay Sean, known for the 2009 hit “Down,” and openers Wavves, a rock band, and DJ duo Haile Supreme and Congo Sanchez will play the April 12 show in University Yard.

The artists seem like an odd combination – and even a letdown for some after last year’s high-profile show that featured Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Jon Carfagno, executive chair of the Program Board, emphasized that this year the focus was creating a concert that had something for everyone.

“We wanted to diversify this year. We really wanted to have a number of different music styles that connected to the GW community because everybody has such vastly different music tastes,” Carfagno said.

What goes into choosing a headliner for the most anticipated on-campus event? Here are four things we learned about the Spring Fling creation process:

1) Coachella and Sweetlife festivals caused scheduling hiccups.

When choosing an artist, Carfagno said that a lot of factors come into play, including availability, popularity and affordability. In past years, Program Board used about $40,000 to book its headliners, according to contracts previously obtained by The Hatchet.

It didn’t help that Spring Fling falls on the same weekend as Coachella, which boasts hundreds of popular and up-and-coming artists and effectively places them out of GW’s reach. The Sweetlife festival is just a few weeks after Spring Fling, cutting out a few options, as well.

“The proximity of that festival also complicates things in terms of scheduling, because certain contracts have proximity clauses that you can’t perform a show if it’s going to be within a certain time frame,” Carfagno said.

2) There was a push for female artists.

The group heavily lobbied GW to offer rapper Angel Haze a spot at Spring Fling, according to a source close to the Program Board, who requested anonymity because discussing the other artists considered would be a breach of contract.

The group tried to book her because of her outspoken involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, and because she is a female artist. No woman has headlined Spring Fling in the past four years, a trend that runs against GW’s majority-female campus.

But the University requested that she not curse during her set, which made booking her more difficult, the source said. A similar artist Iggy Azalea, known for the recent hit “Fancy,” was also considered.

Other acts up for consideration included Haim, who are playing at Coachella the same weekend. Tegan and Sara, Fitz and the Tantrums, Icona Pop, B.O.B. and Capital Cities were also lost to Coachella.

3) Jay Sean isn’t as much of a “throwback” as you think

Although Jay Sean seems dated, reminiscent of high school prom days, Carfagno said the rapper’s repertoire and recent album release made him stand out as a solid choice.

“We were more focused on his new work and what he’s put out in recent years, especially because he’s been linked to other major artists like Pitbull, Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne,” Carfagno said.

Jay Sean’s latest album, “Neon,” was released in July 2013. Rolling Stone panned it, saying “even at its best, ‘Neon’ barely flickers.” But let’s face it, everyone is going to be waiting to hear “Down.”

4) Senior Haile Supreme could make it big

Haile Supreme, the GW senior-turned-DJ whose given name is Abbay Misganaw, is opening with Congo Sanchez of Thievery Corporation. The senior is continuing a music career that put his time at GW on hold.

Carfagno hopes that the Spring Fling performance will help Misganaw keep up his momentum after performing at last year’s South by Southwest and local venues like the Brixton on U Street.

“He works really hard at his craft and we want to be able to give him that spring board to hopefully increase his fanbase. Considering he already has a pretty significant following at the University, this could be a great way to continue to expand on that,” Carfagno said.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet