Last Saturday, Weber State University students and the Ogden community had the chance to enjoy a night of free live music in the Wildcat Theater, hosted by WSU’s radio station KWCR 88.1 Weber FM.
“It’s pretty simple,” said Jared Christensen, the station’s promotions director. “People come to the show, they sit down, they get free stuff thrown at them from our station, and they get to enjoy some great artists. ”
The series is a brand new concept that began last semester and was put together by Christensen, who is also a public relations major at WSU.
“A lot of times people in the community in Ogden don’t come on campus very often,” Christensen said, “so it’s a great opportunity to get people in the community involved, as well as the students, to come out and hear some great talented artists perform what they’re all about.”
Christensen has a history in the Ogden music scene, ranging from helping put together the Utah Music Festival back in 2005 to previously having a website featuring local music and events.
“I figured a lot of these artists don’t necessarily get the publicity they need, and then the radio station’s goal here was to get the students involved with certain things,” Christensen said. “I figured I know a lot of bands, I know people that know people, so I thought we could try to make something like this happen, and we thought it up over the summer, so several concerts later and it’s been pretty successful.”
The concert series has hosted several different genres of music, despite KCWR 88.1 being a primarily indie radio station. Some of them include acoustic, indie, hip hop, reggae and punk alternative groups coming to WSU to put on these free shows, their only payment being the added exposure in the Ogden scene.
“All these bands that most likely get paid for most of the shows that they do, they’ve been generous to offer their talents to the students and to the community here in Ogden,” Christensen said.
Nick Smith, the station’s program director, said the success of the concert keeps building as audience attendance to the shows have gotten bigger and bigger, in contrast to poor turn out at their first shows in the beginning of fall semester 2011.
“People seem to really love it if their favorite local band is coming, but I’ve found that for some of the concerts, people will come for one band, and as soon as that band is done, those people will get up and leave,” Smith said. “It’s not like they’re losing anything by checking it out. So we’re hoping that people come and check it out, maybe expand their genre of music that they listen to and find something new.”
The radio station has also imported musicians from several other music scenes in Ogden. For the show last Saturday, it brought in King Niko and The Suicycles, popular dance alternative bands from the Salt lake City area that have opened at X96’s annual Big Ass Show and have had other performance success throughout the city.
Ransom Wydner, lead singer of King Niko, is actually a native from the Ogden area and former WSU student, but this will be King Niko’s first time performing a show in Ogden.
“The reason why we did the Weber State concert series is it’s always nice to be involved in something that gets students interested in getting out and socializing,” Wydner said. “The importance of that to us is we’re honored just to be asked to do it. There’s a lot of great bands that have been part of it so far, so that’s a cool group to be part of.”
Weber FM also opened its stage for the winner of the Standard Examiner’s High School Battle of the Bands, which was held the previous night before the free concert. King Niko and The Suicylces were also judges at the contest, the winner being Layton High School’s band Mere Image, who Wydner said had a great following that would follow it to its show on Saturday.
“You look at where the music scenes are really thriving and it’s all about excitement and involvement and rallying behind people,” Wydner said. “It’s fun, and its a really good atmosphere.”
The last show for the school year will be on March 23 with the bands still remaining to be announced. If bands are interested in getting on the line up for next year’s concert series, they need to send a bio to email@example.com and also include one or two sample tracks of their music. This process also applies to bands that want to get played on the radio station.
“Ogden has this really cool thing that not a lot of places have. A really great venue, not just for bands from Ogden, but bands from all over the state have been playing during this. It’s a really amazing chance you have to see a lot of bands that you’d generally have to pay for,” Wydner said. “I’d say it’s important as a community to show up, love your music, and it’s a good thing, but it’s also a fun thing to do.”