Llama Brings Big Changes

Llamapalooza, Colorado College’s annual music and arts festival, is returning Block 8 with a freshly released lineup. Jay Som, Webster X and Lex Allen, and Crumb will be playing the event, with student bands Promiscuous Stepsister and Honour Council opening. Co-chairs of the Llama Committee, Mads Engel ’18 and Noah Fabie ’19, and Arts Committee member Allie Puneky ’18 discuss music genre and artist diversity, the attempt to prioritize the feature of student art in the festival, and the addition of food trucks to the event.

Photo by Daniel Sarché

The preparation for Llamapalooza begins with artist selection. The committee discusses and cold emails a wide range of possible musicians based on member interest. This year, the committee was particularly intentional about their choices, ensuring that diverse representation was one of their top priorities. “Last year, when Noname canceled, we realized that the lineup that we had to throw together last minute had no women in it,” Engel said. “Saba was the only person of color. As one person put it on the committee, the only femme of color that had been on the line-up was a student in one of the student bands. And, we were like, that’s ridiculous.”

This year, Engel emphasized that committee choices were made with the assumption that artists would fall through. This thought process ensured that back-up artists reflected the same diversity of initial selections. And the final lineup reflects this change. “We just hope that people aren’t like, ‘Yay! We had a diverse line-up, [and] now we can go back to not caring about it!’” Engel said. “Hopefully, it is only just up from here in that sense.”

The committee plans to continue collaborating with the CC Student Government Association’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion to ensure representation throughout the selection process. Due to initial uncertainty surrounding Smino’s availability, and ultimate cancelation, the Butler Center was also provided a list of back up music selections to be distributed to their respective organizations. “Ideally, next year we’d work with the Butler Center earlier in our process to get some suggestions of artists from them,” Fabie said. “We had the Butler Center groups vote on back-up artists, but if we had that happen on the front end rather than the back end, that would be ideal.”

Why are artists so hard to retain? Fabie and Engel describe the difficulty of meeting compensation requests, particularly because the event is free to students, lacking exposure for the artist, and rarely lining up with established tour dates. “Llama is the coolest thing that happens at CC, but, by far, the least cool thing that happens for these artists,” Engel explained. “What happened this year with one of the artists we were looking at is that one of the agents gave us a quote, and the range was like a $15,000 difference between their low- and high-end ask. There are some times when we think we can afford someone, and they come back and say, ‘Actually, it’s going to cost twice as much.” Artists are actively negotiating deals based on fluctuating schedules; the Llama committee, entirely comprised of students, must navigate the difficulties of contract and artist releases.

The committee has a $70,000 budget to execute the event. Funding comes from the annual student activities fee, unlike other large CC organizations who request a budget directly from CCSGA. Yet, at least half of the funds goes towards recurring baseline costs, such as staging, audio, security, sanitation, food, and liquor permits. “There is also a stipulation added by student government that we have to pay at least $11,000 for one artist to have a ‘bigger headliner,’” Fabie said. This stipulation was requested and implemented just this past year. Although beneficial, it is a significant factor to budget and resource allocation. Additional money, largely obtained through tickets and merchandise, is utilized for compensating the deserving student bands.

This year, a subcommittee of Llama worked exclusively to implement student art into the festival. Although this was always a component of the event, it lacked consolidation in years past. “I didn’t even know there was student art displayed at the festival last year,” Puneky said. “The landscape felt barren, though the music was on fire. So, I joined the committee with the hope that I could help contribute to the flow of the space and help integrate the artistic expression of the student body more fluidly.”

The committee created a structure, a quasi-art gallery, to display both 3-D and 2-D student-art pieces. There will also be a creation space for students to engage in their own art at the event. The goal: “To create a space where artists’ works would be safe—a couple people’s works got stolen last year which was not cool,” Puneky said. “I think Llama is more than just a celebration of the end of the year and a fun day of music. It’s also a celebration of the student body and everything they have achieved in the last year.”

Food is also a significant feature of this year’s event. Two food trucks and the CC Picnic Box will be parked on Cascade from 3-6 p.m. Pizza will be delivered at the beginning of the day and again at 8 p.m. Midnight breakfast will follow the headliner performance. “We’re hoping that people will actually be well-fed this year,” Engel said.

Llama begins next Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m. If interested in submitting student art to display at the festival, contact Engel or Fabie.


Llamapalooza 2018 Official Lineup:

Jay Som Webster X and Lex Allen Crumb Promiscuous Stepsister Honour Council

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