Pull up a patch of grass

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Western Washington University, under the auspices of Associated Students Productions (or ASP Pop Music as it was once known before being incorporated under the AS Productions umbrella), was responsible for bringing bands and musicians to campus for the entertainment of the student body.

This was an arrangement with benefits beyond the confines of the WWU campus, as, thanks to the miracle of plentiful university funding, AS Productions was able to book bigger acts than you’d typically find at Bellingham’s other venues, while keeping ticket prices down for students and the general public alike. This confluence of beneficial factors helped bring the likes of the Roots, the Shins, Cat Power, Modest Mouse, and many, many more to town for shows that are still talked about even now.

However, university funding is not what it once was, and with budgetary demands reaching a crisis point at many institutions of higher education, programs such as AS Productions have had to make do with less, and show greater ingenuity than ever before. What this has meant during the past few years is that AS Productions is no longer providing us with a robust roster of big-name talent at rock-bottom prices—a thing about which I am still sad, but I have to admit that it was pretty good while it lasted.

But all has not gone silent on campus, and for the past couple of years, AS Productions has thrown a big, almost-end-of-year concert open to anyone who wants to pull of a patch of grass on the Communication Lawn and attend.

Called Lawnstock, the show has proven to be wildly popular, probably owing to its mix of local and regional talent and its asking price of free. So, while AS Productions doesn’t organize as many concerts as they once did, they make the ones they’re responsible for count.

This year’s Lawnstock—the event’s third iteration—takes place starting at 4pm Sun., May 31 and boasts a lineup that is entertaining and eclectic. Depending on what time you find yourself making your way to the Comm Lawn, you could hear the electro-pop of Seattle’s Beat Connection, or Shaprece’s genre-shattering smooth soul sound, or the once-familiar faces of former Bellinghamsters Kithkin and Specters, both returning to their alma mater for the occasion.

Along with these more established acts, the winner of Sounds of the Underground, the inaugural competition staged by and held at WWU’s Underground Coffeehouse, will also get a chance to play on the Lawnstock stage, which will surely be the largest audience that nascent band has ever performed for. At press time, said winner had yet to me determined, but will be chosen at the Sounds of the Underground finals taking place just a couple of days before Lawnstock, on Fri., May 29 at Make.Shift Art Space. The finalists are the Female Fiends, Painters, the Cleos, and Scruffager, so one of those will be part of your 2015 Lawnstock soundtrack, which will no doubt lead to fame and glory beyond the confines of WWU’s Comm Lawn.

While music is the reason Lawnstock exists, the event offers more than just free bands in an idyllic outdoor setting. The ever-amazing Sensebellum will be on hand with their mind-boggling visuals via light-mapping, Cubix staging system and other tech-savvy trickery that I don’t understand and so think it comes about via a combination of magic and genius. Food vendors will also be part of the event, so you can satiate your actual appetite along with your artistic one, and a photo booth will be set up so you can immortalize the day without the use of the blight on humanity that is the selfie stick. Saving the best for last, AS Productions Special Events has somehow gotten its hands on a bona fide carnival ride, the Cyclone Swing, so step right up for that as well.

As previously mentioned, the best part about Lawnstock is that it’s free, family-friendly and open to anyone who finds themselves on the WWU campus with a yen to be entertained—all thanks to the hard-working folks of AS Productions.

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