Skai Bekeris, USC News | Posted: November 24, 2019 9:55pm
It was more than just “alright” for students who attended the sold-out Bryce Vine concert earlier this month thanks to the efforts of several USC student employees and full-time staff.
The USC welcomed Bryce Vine, an American singer and rapper hailing from New York City on November 13th at The Wave for an exciting show, thanks in part to the USC Events and Promotion teams. Virginia to Vegas, a Toronto-based artist, warmed up the crowd before Vine took the stage.
Vine, a hip-hop meets indie pop musician, previously worked with Western alumni and London natives Andrew Fedyk and Joe Depace of Loud Luxury on the single “I’m Not Alright”, a hit among Western University students. The artist choice proved to be a success and generated significant buzz on campus since early this fall.
Kirk Morris, a 4th-year BMOS student, is currently a Photographer Intern in the USC’s Promotions Department – one of many paid, part-time roles with the USC. He works to capture the USC’s most exciting and important moments, which includes opportunities to shoot events like the Bryce Vine concert. Morris previously volunteered with Promotions Department and returned as a paid staff this year.
Promotions before, during, and after a show are integral to the success of an event like the Bryce Vine concert. The USC Promotions Department helps with photography, videography, event promotion, and social media, and offers internship opportunities for students like Morris who are hoping to develop or expand skills in areas like graphic design, digital content development, and photography.
Initially, Morris was interested in participating in the internship program in hopes of building his personal portfolio and gaining the opportunity to shoot big concerts on campus that the USC regularly hosts. Through the internship program, however, he has been able to broaden his interests beyond just concerts, noting his experience in the department over the years: “being able to grow my portfolio is a huge opportunity, but I also get to expand my horizons within my art. I typically wouldn’t have shot events like last year’s Charity Ball because I’m more into concerts and street style, but it was cool to experience a different vibe which opens up new doors for me now,” he reflected.
Morris works under Nick Scott, USC Promotions Manager and Kurt Johnson, the USC’s Graphic Design and Video Production Coordinator. He talked about the opportunities the pair of USC full-time staff have provided for him, with the intention of developing his skills and portfolio by setting personal and professional goals.
“I’m working on getting better at editing photos, like color-grading. I’m usually into film [photography], but I’m being pushed towards other photography so I can get better at that. I’m also working on storytelling with video,” said Morris.
While Morris gets the unique opportunity to shoot his favorite artists’ concerts and build his portfolio, he also acknowledged his appreciation for the USC with his experiences being a part of the promotions team.
“Working within the USC, I definitely realized that there’s so much more offered at Western that I didn’t even know about… It’s amazing to see all the opportunities that are available, with so many different clubs and groups, often facilitated by USC. A lot of people don’t know the full extent of what the USC does for us,” he exclaimed.
Josh Try, USC Productions Manager expressed a similar perspective on employment and leadership opportunities the USC provides every year: “the USC is insane in how many opportunities it presents for students.”
As Productions Manager, Try provides oversight and leadership to the department, including the USC Events Crew, which includes a student staff of 55 and two full-time employees. His role in putting on shows like the Bryce Vine concert includes liaising with the artist management for equipment needs, booking travel and accommodations, and coordinating day-of-show logistics. During events, Try can be found stage managing as he liaises with tour managers to ensure the show runs smoothly for the artist, events team, and concert-goers.
Thinking back to the show a week after the concert, Try reflected: “I remember walking around at the show thinking, ‘You know what, this is worth all of the long days.’”
Try recalled the efforts of his crew, made up of mostly student staff, who worked a 12-hour day to ensure the event was a success for Western students. “There’s nothing better than seeing people enjoy a show. I was really happy with the turnout at that show and the general vibe of the night,” he said.
The student staff of the events team, a “small army” according to Try, work hard to set up for the event by running cables and setting up microphones, arranging the staging and lights, and checking the equipment was in place and working properly.
For students interested in event production and being a part of a team that puts on exciting concerts and events for Western students, Try emphasized the USC offering great opportunities for both students with experience and students who are new to the scene.
Students who have little to no background can be a part of the production if they’re willing to work hard. Try explained, “sometimes it comes off as glamorous with the flashing lights and special effects, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work. Even if you don’t have the experience in some of the technical fields we deal with, as long as you’re willing to work hard and take instruction to try and learn, then you’re welcome at the USC, because that’s all we ask of our employees.
Try reflected on his involvement and the opportunities he was presented with by the USC as an undergraduate student at Western. “Looking at it for me personally, I started working here in 2013 as a part-time employee when I was a student. After I graduated, I stuck on a little bit and continued to learn. I got a lot of tools and experience that I used to apply for a full-time job here. I try to provide that same experience for my staff. We provide learning opportunities, like training opportunities we have for the specific equipment we use. We provide the opportunity for people to learn, that they wouldn’t be able to learn anywhere else. I’m proud of that. We put people into positions to be able to learn and sometimes people might feel over their heads, but there’s always a shoulder to lean on whether it be myself or my colleagues. There’s room for us to help people to grow,” he remarked.
Western students can look forward to PurpleFrost 2020 in January, and check out the USC’s opportunities page for more information on getting involved.