By Christina Mowry and Jessica Delahunt
Students decked out in plaid shirts and cowboys boots crowded onto the Barone Campus Center green on Saturday to enjoy the Fairfield University Student Association Fall Concert featuring country artists Love and Theft.
The concert featured two opening acts, DJ Rod Youree and Joel Crouse, and headliner Love and Theft, a country duo consisting of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson.
Students walked through security and onto the BCC lawn to a backdrop of country songs provided by DJ Youree who opened the show.
At around 5:30 p.m., Massachusetts native Joel Crouse took the stage. Crouse has previously toured with well-known country artists such as Toby Keith, The Band Perry and Taylor Swift.
Crouse played songs such as his 2013 hit, “If You Want Some,” and “Summer Love.” He also covered Adele’s chart-topping single, “Someone Like You,” which pleased concert attendees.
After his set, Crouse stood next to Alumni Hall to meet fans, who eagerly approached him to take pictures and sign autographs.
Following Crouse was Love and Theft, whose set began at around 6:45 p.m. and lasted for just over an hour. The duo began by playing “She Gets Me,” an upbeat song that eventually transitioned into a brief cover of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
The artists then switched back to their own music, playing their lead-off single “Runaway” from their debut album “World Wide Open,” released in August 2009.
Love and Theft also played new songs from their next album such as “Candyland,” a song they defined as “an adult version of the board game.” A second new song that was played, “Tanlines,” was met positively by the audience as they caught on quickly to the lyrics.
However, “Lose Yourself” wasn’t the only cover that Love and Theft performed. The duo also covered Uncle Kracker’s “Drift Away” and The Eagles’ “Take It Easy.” Despite performing covers of several popular songs, the audience reacted most enthusiastically to Love and Theft’s own songs.
Students energetically belted out the lyrics to the duo’s own “If You Ever Get Lonely,” “Night That You’ll Never Forget” and “Runnin’ Out of Air.”
According to FUSA Chair of Programming Lindsey Hanley, selecting a country artist as this year’s headliner was somewhat of a risk: “With EDM you can kind of sell people on the experience,” she said. “Whereas with country, if people don’t like the music, it’s harder to sell.”
However, Hanley believes the risk paid off: Although exact numbers are still being tallied, she estimates that ticket sales were “somewhere in the 900s.”
Hanley explained that concert organizers tried to give the event a vibe like that of an outdoor festival, arranging for food trucks to dole out hotdogs and pizza slices to hungry concert-goers. Students were given a coupon for one free food item when purchasing their concert tickets, said Hanley.
Students like Richard Haas III ‘15 appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere of this year’s concert. “Concerts are meant to be a showcase for the music, not a way to hook up on the dance floor,” he stated.
Senior Victoria Mulé also enjoyed the atmosphere: “It was a lot of fun. Everyone just seemed really happy,” she said.
Thomas Cullen, a Stamford native who attended the concert with a friend, particularly enjoyed the outdoor venue: “It was open enough, but still intimate.”
“It was much cooler,” agreed Jack Santoro ‘18, comparing the venue to that of past concerts.
The noticeable shift in concert atmosphere was also appreciated by Fairfield’s Department of Public Safety.
“It’s like night and day,” said Assistant Director of Public Safety John Ritchie, when asked to compare student behavior at this year’s concert to that of prior years. From a security standpoint, Ritchie said this year’s concert was “uneventful,” and claims that the genre of this year’s concert might be responsible for the change in student behavior.
According to Ritchie, there were zero documented transports at the event, a significant decrease from past FUSA concerts such as Diplo, at which 5 individuals were transported.
“The country music scene doesn’t really call for people to trip on acid,” he said.
“When you bring in a DJ, people have the perception that you need to take certain drugs to experience the music,” Ritchie added.
This year’s concert also presented a unique challenge for DPS and FUSA: as the concert was outside, all vantage points to the concert had to be sectioned off to prevent ticketless students from enjoying the concert free of charge. Hanley said that FUSA took the precaution of reserving all meeting rooms in the BCC with a view of the field, as well as the Stag Snack Bar patio and commuter lounge.
“We had eyes everywhere,” added Ritchie.
For their closing number, Love and Theft performed their hit song “Angel Eyes,” and were joined by their fans, who enthusiastically sang along.
“It seemed like preacher’s kids were always the craziest,” said Liles and Gunderson when asked about the inspiration behind the hit song. “We both grew up in the church.”