On Saturday night, Colby College’s Student Planning Board (SPB) hosted a concert in the Alfond Athletic Center fieldhouse starring pop sensation Kesha with a special appearance from rising Australian star Grace. It was one of the largest events ever hosted on campus, with thousands of tickets sold. The Facebook event created by SPB had over 2,400 individuals invited and over 1,200 individuals confirming attendance. Ticket prices for the event were higher than previous concerts held by SPB, with students paying $25 while the general public paid $35 for a ticket.
On the night of the concert, many waited for an extended period of time outside in sub 30 degree temperatures trying to get into the Alfond Athletic Center, where the concert was held. While waiting in the line, concert-goers took to Facebook to express their frustration. “Everyone started skipping, then pushing. Craziness… no organization,” Kaylee Trefethen remarked. Many were frustrated by the limited staffing of the event calling it “chaotic,” and calling for more professors, security guards, and police officers to be in attendance to control the crowd. SPB did not respond to The Echo for comment.
In addition, several attendees witnessed students drinking and vomiting outside of the concert venue. “Students were throwing up everywhere and after the concert was over, [I saw] a student have a seizure, only to see EMT’s just casually walk over” said Kevin Dunn. “It seemed to me that a lot of the Colby College students saw the Kesha concert as an opportunity to get totally smashed and be unreasonably rowdy,” said Kayle Simpson. According to the Colby College Security incident report log, two people were transported to the hospital directly from the Athletic Center. However, anonymous students commented that they saw “at least four or five students who were transported from the venue in an ambulance”
But the pushing and shoving did not stop once Kesha attendees checked into the venue. Inside the concert, many reported being shoved and elbowed by inebriated students. “Students also had no respect for others, constantly elbowing, and yelling stuff at people” complained Dunn. Some even reported verbal abuse from Colby students. “I refused to let a girl shove by and she literally said, ‘You don’t even go here’” reported Amy Cunningham in a comment on the Facebook event page.
Grace was the opening act of the concert. Most of the comments on Grace’s performance were positive— with attendees remarking that she was the “best part,” and “I’ll be buying Grace’s songs for sure,” said Amanda Payson.
The Facebook discourse was particularly heated on the topic of Kesha’s performance. Many of the posts negatively characterized her act. “I have never seen Kesha live and after last night I am not sure if I want to again.” said Elizabeth Cunningham. Devoted Kesha followers, known as Animals, pushed back against these complaints. Many argued that it is unfair to blame Kesha given all that she has been through with her rape case. “Don’t blame Kesha, don’t bash on her, don’t disrespect her, because if this was you, if you were in her position, in her shoes, imagine how you would feel right now?” said LeeAnn Robertson. Other people were simply frustrated by the 45 minute wait for Kesha. One anonymous student told The Echo that he heard the concert was pushed back due to Kesha wanting to wait for the crowd to enter the venue, which was delayed due to pushing and shoving.
While frustration has mostly ceased in the days following the concert, Colby’s connection to Waterville and the greater Maine community has been brought into focus. Although the administration seeks to strengthen Colby’s involvement in local community, some students are opposed to broadening that connection to encompass nightlife activity. Jonny Cangemi ’20 argues that college nightlife is “a means for students to blow off steam. While at times we will certainly overdo it, expecting exemplary behavior from stressed-out College students is unrealistic.” Others argue that Colby’s binge-drinking problem is to blame. “Colby leads the NESCAC in binge-drinking so there is certainly room for improvement. But the Colby drinking problem is exacerbated by the isolation of the students from the outside world. Reaching out to the Waterville community would help to alleviate some the pressure that students feel to binge drink on weekends.” The concert also showed that much of the general public views Colby students as “entitled”, “snobby”, and “privileged” to name a few.