Section: Features

Behind the scenes of selecting the Summer Sendoff artist

Summer Sendoff has boasted a number of big-name artists, including The Romantics in 1982, De La Soul in 1999 and 2007 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1986. Organized by Social Board, the selection process for the Sendoff artist is shrouded in mystery. In an email interview with the Collegian, Social Board President Lilly Richart ’23 explained the process behind the decision to host Social House at this year’s Summer Sendoff.

Though most students don’t start thinking about Sendoff until temperatures begin to thaw, Social Board begins the selection process as early as October. “We start by sending out a form to all of the student body for them to share suggestions,” Richart wrote. “We then send people and genres from that to our agent who gives us back a list of artists that are realistic with our budget. From there, we have voting within the Board and send an offer to the artist with the most votes!”

Sounds simple, right? Richart explained that the most logistically difficult part of securing the artist is the legal side of things: “Much of the challenges surrounding securing an artist revolve around the contract, as artists tend to have stipulations and changes to the original contract we send.” The Social Board team navigates these challenges with patience, ready to negotiate and make changes when plans go in different directions. 

In past years, Social Board has organized not only a headliner for the concert, but also an opening act to prime Kenyon audiences for the festivities to come. This year represents a slight break from tradition, with student band Paul Obie slated to open for Social House this Friday. In February, Social Board hosted a well-attended Battle of the Bands competition at the Horn Gallery, for which the prize was the coveted responsibility of being this year’s Sendoff opener. While it is slightly unusual for a student band to open the event, it is certainly not unheard of — in 2009, then-student band WALK THE MOON opened for hip-hop group Clipse. Richart explained why Social Board chose to go with a student band for this year’s opener: “It provided a much bigger opportunity than usual for students to have input on the artist. I think we also wanted to give a student band the chance to perform on a professional stage in front of a professional band and really garner excitement through that.” 

Now that the Sendoff artist has been selected and announced, Social Board is hard at work preparing for the event. “We already have everything secured,” Richart said, “but in [terms of] general preparation of the past few months, we’ve had to secure food trucks, conduct the T-shirt design competition and stuff like that.” Richart also noted that this is only the second Sendoff since the pandemic halted the celebration in 2020, meaning the concert will occupy a particularly sentimental place in the collective Kenyon memory.

On the subject of why Social Board ultimately decided to go with Social House, Richart kept it simple: “We felt as though they represented the majority of tastes shared by the students.” Regardless of personal feelings about the choices, the student body will welcome Paul Obie and Social House this Friday for a bit of fun before finals week. 


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