A&O makes final preparations for its first free Blowout


Students line up to see Carly Rae Jepsen perform at Blowout 2018. A&O has yet to announce this year’s artists.

Jennifer Zhan, Reporter

Most students might not eagerly anticipate the start of a new school year. But for Communication senior and A&O Productions co-chair Avery Powell, it’s when months of planning finally pay off.

On Oct. 5, A&O will hold its annual Blowout event at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Describing the concert as one of the student group’s “rowdiest” shows, Powell said it will be free this year for the first time as part of a new initiative he’s happy to support.

“I haven’t spoken with ASG personally, but I think this is one of their big things for the next couple of years, just trying to make events more accessible and free overall,” Powell said. “Basically what ASG is trying to say is, ‘If you can, you should.’ That’s a big thing, just trying to increase our efforts to have as diverse of a board as possible, in as many ways as possible.”

This year marks the 10th iteration of Blowout and the 50th anniversary of A&O Productions, according to Weinberg senior and fellow A&O co-chair Brooke Alsterlind. However, Medill senior and A&O concerts committee head Claire Toomey said the process to create Blowout didn’t necessarily change because of the two milestones.

“We always try to put on shows to the best standard that we can,” Toomey said. “But we were definitely aware of trying to just have something high-energy, have as many people come as possible, and just get people really excited.”

The process of booking artists began last spring, Toomey said, when the concert committee began considering artists that they felt would be representative of A&O’s values and appeal to the student body.

Alsterlind said she anticipates this year’s Blowout will have a “fresh, upbeat vibe.” She added that she appreciates being able to look back at the progress A&O has made through previous Blowouts.

“In our 10 years, A&O’s really grown in how thoughtful we are in who we book … when we think about appealing to different demographics or groups or ages,” Alsterlind said. “We’re not great yet, but I think we’ve progressed in trying to balance that a lot better.”

Once the concert committee found artists who were available and within budget, Powell said other committees, such as finance and marketing, began firing on all cylinders.

Powell added that the productions committee, in particular, did “everything imaginable,” including coordinating security, transportation and artist requests such as sound, lighting, or even pineapples — a previous artist’s request.

As Blowout approaches, Powell said A&O members are equally excited and stressed.

“One of the lessons I learned from an old member of A&O (is) it’s not about will it go wrong, it’s about what you do when it does,” Powell said. “(There are) a billion moving parts, and sometimes you gotta have a million different contingency plans, and you gotta be able to act on your feet when it’s the millionth and one thing that’s happened.”

Toomey said she’s most excited for the feeling she gets every time a new Blowout starts.

“We’ve all worked so hard on this,” Toomey said. “Every committee plays its part, so when you’re there and you’re watching it happen, you just feel like all of the hard work was totally worth it.”

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