Gearing up for the music: Assembly Hall releases concert schedule

By Courtney Pischke

When it comes to diversity, the marketing directors at Assembly Hall know not to book an “old, wooden ship.”

A successful entertainment schedule at the big silver venue means accommodating all types of musical tastes and individual favorites.

“We’re all about variety in programming,” said Kevin Ullestad, director of Assembly Hall.

“First, we take a look at who’s touring and who has new material out there,” Ullestad said. “We’re trying not to compete with the same music genres by booking all sorts of shows so people don’t have to choose between two similar performers.”

The current schedule can be found on Assembly Hall’s Web site, which also lists upcoming performances like the Sept. 24 Interpol concert and the newly announced Oct. 4 Foo Fighters gig.

“We used the Interpol show as a ‘welcome back’ to students, making it only $10 and very affordable for students,” said Jennifer Larson, assistant director of marketing. “The Kaiser Chiefs are a newer group and we got lucky with them because they’re opening up for Weezer and the Foo Fighters.”

“We’re really trying to push the Interpol concert because we know everyone will want to see the Foo Fighters show,” said Kalyn Cooper, an intern for the marketing team this semester. “Interpol’s from New York so we’re bringing the East Coast to the Midwest.”

“The Interpol concert is so cheap,” Ullestad said. “Ten dollars is like two beers on a Friday night.”

When scheduling shows, other factors besides a diverse array of music come into play.

Different bands cost different amounts and certain shows require special lighting or props, which can get pricey.

Ticket prices for big bands like U2 would dent wallets so much that they might restrict the fans’ other social plans.

“We wouldn’t want to have something that cost so much that the fans couldn’t see any other shows after that,” Ullestad said. “Luckily, we can facilitate a wide range of shows so we look at who’s touring, determine the pricing and ask ourselves if it makes sense to have such a show.”

Although considered a “secondary market” in concert hall lingo, Assembly Hall remains the dominant facility in Central Illinois. Generally, its schedule relies on the first-tier markets.

“We look at who’s playing in Chicago and St. Louis and do our best to pick a time in between those dates,” Larson said.

There are several concerts already listed on the Web site and highlighted on Neil Street’s billboard but expect to see more shows announced soon. (Hint: think hip-hop and R&B;).

“I have a couple offers sitting on my desk that don’t expire for two weeks and they’re for fall shows,” Ullestad said. “We learned about Dave Chapelle coming to the Midwest just two weeks before he came to Champaign,” Ullestad said. “And as you know, his show here sold out real fast.

“You just never know how well something’s going to sell so we keep in close contact with advisory groups to guide our decisions and get feedback.”

Check out upcoming Assembly Hall headliners on their Web site, www.uofiassemblyhall.com.