Muller and Nadkarni: More transparency, variety needed in Mayfest’s selection process for Dillo Day


Yoni Muller and Rohan Nadkarni

As of Thursday, two days before Dillo Day, Mayfest has not yet released the name of the artist who will send off our annual night of debauchery and bad decisions. This marks the longest time in at least 10 years the student body has had to wait for the reveal of the nighttime headliner.

However, if history is any indication, we know the marquee act is most likely a rap or hip-hop artist. Not to say we aren’t fans of rap or hip-hop  — Yoni’s AIM screen name used to be liljon326 — but we feel there must be a way for Mayfest to incorporate the music tastes of more of the Northwestern population.

Dillo Day should be a music festival that excites every single student on campus — and not just for the drugs and alcohol. Everyone should be able to point to an act that represents their favorite genre. Granted, we recognize artists of multiple genres do participate in the event — we’re pumped for Smash Mouth — but it’s easy to see the representation is disproportional. The last headliners have been Steve Aoki, B.o.B and Nelly. Additionally, A&O Blowout acts have featured five rap or electronica acts and only two other types of artists in the past two years. Similarly large names such as The Killers, The Fray or The Lumineers would make for excellent alternatives to yet another hip-hop act.

Now, we’d like to reiterate that this isn’t a tirade on those genres, but we have to question the process that consistently leads to such a skewed representation of music styles.

Although we appreciate Mayfest for planning such a massive event, ultimately, this select group is responsible for representing many tastes. With Mayfest members being such a small group, we feel they are naturally going to exclude a large proportion of public opinion. The cycle of Mayfest students picking their successors is also probably reinforcing the current domination of rap and electronic acts.

Furthermore, there is a complete lack of transparency regarding the selection of artists. Clearly the motive is to keep the headliners a surprise, and we fully agree with that, but there’s a limit to the secrecy. When nobody knows who the final act of a concert will be two days in advance, that line has been crossed.

Although Mayfest offers write-in suggestions for students to name the artist they want for Dillo Day, we have no idea about the effect of these types of campaigns. Writing your favorite artist on a dry-erase board seems to be more about promotion (and an annoying NU tradition) than an actual suggestion for an artist.

Also, when students are asked to write in any artist they want online, it leads to the inevitable million suggestions for artists we can’t afford — Beyonce, for example — and a McCormick student who hacks the system to enter Appomattox Trap House — they got robbed — on repeat.

That’s not to say that asking people who they want is a bad strategy. But when the results are never disclosed and the consequences are completely unknown, it starts to look more like a Mayfest promotional tool than any sincere form of reaching out to the student body. Why have we never seen a simple poll that asks us how we feel about certain music genres? If Mayfest is rap-heavy because students prefer it, at the very least there should be an attempt to confirm and then share that information.

A significant improvement would be to nominate 10 or so artists and have students vote on their favorites, leaving the top five in consideration for Mayfest to headline. This would give students a clear way to have their opinions considered, while allowing Mayfest the executive judgment and contract flexibility required to, as Ro privately says, “Keep Dillo Day poppin’.”

And so, as one Dillo Day planning period comes to an end — hopefully with a headliner that isn’t one of the orchestrator’s iPods — and another one begins, we hope that attempts will be made to expand the range of acts invited to perform or at least to help keep students somewhat informed of the process. We love Dillo Day and are as excited about this year’s lineup as anyone else but recognize that there is room for inclusion, and we hope to see some in the future. Or they could just keep things the way they are — most people will be too drunk to notice.

Yoni Muller is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. Rohan Nadkarni is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].