CSU, CASA Stage “Piknic” at Parc Jean-Drapeau

Union-JMSB Partnership Results in Largest Orientation in Five Years

Swedish electrohouse duo Dada Life (Olle Corneer and Stefan Engblom), pictured at the London Music Hall in Ontario, headlined the Orientation concert, where press photography of the DJs was forbidden. Photo Shawn Tron

The Concordia Student Union’s annual orientation concert met a new sub-bass and synth quota this year as thousands of Concordia students converged on Parc Jean-Drapeau last Friday.

Though sales figures and ticket tallies are yet to be released, estimates from organizers place the amount of concertgoers at around 4,000, the largest turnout for an orientation concert in the past five years.

CSU VP Student Life Katrina Caruso says she’s been too busy organizing most of CSU Orientation to enjoy many events, but this time she got to join in on the fun.

“I got to go to the event and actually just experience it myself, which has been rare this week,” she said. “I have been running around like crazy every other day.

“I had a great time personally and I got so much excellent feedback from [students] and also other organizers,” she added.

Concert director Zak Lupu echoed the sentiment.

“For me that’s kind of why I do that kind of stuff, just seeing everybody’s faces light up and having a blast,” he said.

“Obviously on the back end, it’s very stressful and there’s a lot of stuff which goes on, but I think from the feedback I’ve gotten and what I’ve heard from everybody it went really well.”

Due Diligence

Put on by the CSU in partnership with the Commerce and Administration Students’ Association—the faculty association for the John Molson School of Business—the “Froshapalooza” concert was headlined by electronic music artists Dada Life and Tommy Trash.

Two stages were set up on the grounds of Piknic Electronik, an annual summer-long music festival on Ste-Hélène Island. While the atmosphere was far from the ruckus of an electronic music festival, drug use was visible at the Parc Jean-Drapeau venue.

A Link reporter was casually asked if he had 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine—better known as MDMA, or Molly to the kids—to sell as soon as he was past the gate and into the main concert grounds.

Caruso says that while she personally didn’t see any using of illicit substances, organizers did ensure a safe space to the best of their ability.

“[The Concordia Student Emergency Response Team] was on site at all times, along with professionals who work at Piknic Eletronik, and they’re all trained in first aid and emergency security tactics,” she said, adding that there were few cases of intoxication requiring medical attention.­­

Both Caruso and Lupu also maintain that gate security was diligent in performing pat downs and property searches in hopes of curbing the proliferation of drugs inside.

“It wasn’t that we turned a blind eye to it,” said Lupu. “We took every step necessary to control 4,000 people and to screen them as best as we knew how.

“[Concertgoers] would scan in, go through a full pat down, their bags would be checked—there was a full process to try to make sure no one was coming in with [drugs].”

It wasn’t that we turned a blind eye to it, we took every step necessary to control 4,000 people and to screen them as best as we knew how.
—Concert Director Zak Lupu

The Commerce Gap

According to Caruso, the plan “pretty much since day one” was to highlight electronic and dance music at the concert.

“It seems to bring the most students out, and it seems to be what most of our students tend to enjoy, and it was a little bit different from what we’ve done in previous years, so we wanted to try something new,” she said.

“And, working with CASA, I knew they would probably mobilize their students really well to come out [….] That’s a style of music a lot of John Molson students tend to like,” she continued.

Speaking with The Link from Virginia, 2010-2011 CSU President Heather Lucas said her year’s orientation, featuring Montreal funk duo Chromeo, hip-hop artist K’Naan and Toronto DJs Keys N Krates, tried to cater to multiple musical tastes.

“Our goal was to appeal to as many students as possible in order to reflect the diversity on campus,” she said.

As for Lupu, who is also CASA VP Events, he says he would have liked to include more musical genres, but the “timeframe forced [his] hand” and stopped CSU from having more diverse acts opening for Dada Life and Tommy Trash.

According to CASA President John-Michael Minon, the faculty association’s major contribution came in offering its marketing and branding expertise, something that CSU VP Finance Scott Carr says was an important tool for the CSU to incorporate into its Orientation plans.

“[CASA] threw a concert last year with Asher Roth, and it was really successful; they did a great job and they got a ton of students out, and really specific to their faculty,” Carr said.

“It would only makes sense: why don’t we partner with the school that has probably the best marketing across all the faculty associations [and the CSU]?” said Carr.

So when it was time for Carr and Caruso to hire a concert director for the CSU’s orientation concert, one of the first candidates was Lupu, who organized last year’s Asher Roth concert as well as other JMSB events.

According to Carr—who originally campaigned for the VP Finance position on pledges to fix the disconnect between the business school and the CSU—coordinated events between the CSU and CASA are necessary to get the union’s efforts appreciated among the John Molson student body.

“I think that events like [Froshapalooza] are what is able to bridge gaps, and create the relationships where we work together,” Carr said. “We can see that both sides are competent and both of our sides are open to working together.

“So I think there are more events like this to come, more partnerships to come [….] The number-one thing is we’re talking. It wasn’t just one event necessarily, now it’s a regular conversation,” Carr said.