Although most students at the College of William and Mary do not make it down to the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka on a regular basis, they filled the stands Saturday, Oct. 6 for the annual WCWM Fest hosted by the College’s own WCWM 90.9 FM and AMP. Viewers spread out on the grassy amphitheater tiers and enjoyed a breezy night filled with the sweet sounds of student bands and headliner artists alike.
The event started with student bands such as Ruth, Talk to Plants and a local artist, Shormey, followed by headliners Vagabon and Lucy Dacus.
The idea behind the festival this year was to have women artists as the headliners, complimenting the College’s 100 years of coeducation landmark.
The opening artists set the tone for the night and engaged the crowd as students mingled amongst picnic blankets and twinkly lights set up by the WCWM members. Shouts of, “I love you!” while Talk to Plants jammed out onstage and squeals from the stands as Ruth and Shormey played brought students together and built up excitement for the artists to come.
Vagabon’s soft yet powerful voice swept over the amphitheater and brought chills to listeners, while Lucy Dacus and her band got the crowd up on its feet moving along to the beat.
It was clear that students were fond of these artists, and many of them had seen them perform live before. Kelsey Wright ’22 said she had seen both of the headlining acts in concert before and was drawn to the event because of how much she liked them.
“I first saw the lineup announced on Facebook and really liked the two headliners,” Wright said. “I was really excited to see both of them again.”
Other students were familiar with the headliners and attended the event for a chance to see them play live. As an AMP event, the festival was completely free to students at the College, an offer that, for many fans of indie and alternative music, is hard to pass up.
“I had been wanting to see Lucy Dacus in concert for a while now,” Quan Chau ’21 said. “So, of course [I] jumped at the opportunity to see her live for free. Who wouldn’t?”
Talk to Plants is a student band made up of five seniors. They have been playing together since their freshman year at the College.
Talk to Plants guitarist and singer Ben Fox ’18 said that the band performed at WCWM Fest two years ago as well and had a lot of fun. He said he enjoys performing because it is really cathartic and he can release a lot of energy. Fox said that his favorite song to perform was the last one in the band’s set, called “The End Is.” It is a 10-minute-long song during which Fox plays the trumpet. He said that the song is a weird, Rockabilly, epic creation that he thoroughly enjoys sharing with audiences.
As the night went on, students inched closer to the stage, and by the time Lucy Dacus made her entrance, everyone was up and dancing at the front. Students came together, whether they knew each other or not, to enjoy the music. The openair atmosphere of the event encouraged students to sit back, relax and dance.
Julia Bullard ’20, who has been attending WCWM events since her freshman year, said she likes attending these events because they are one of the calmer social atmospheres on campus.
In years past, the festival has been moved indoors due to bad weather, but this year no weather inhibited the outdoor festival plans. Bullard especially enjoyed that the festival was outside this year, because she said she liked the outdoor festival vibe.
WCWM member Tori McCaffrey ’21 commented that festival is no easy task to organize. She did a lot of the planning and setup for the event, while station managers Elizabeth Stephenson ’19 and Varvara Troitski ’20 reached out to artists. All WCWM members woke up at 8:30 Saturday morning to set up barricades, mic stands and lights. The members were also in charge of post-event cleanup.
WCWM also tabled all last week on the Sadler Terrace, advertising with posters and stickers that boasted the event’s logo. The festival itself also had merchandise featuring the event and different bands. McCaffrey said that the time spent advertising really paid off in terms of spreading information about the event and hopefully increasing turnout. She said that her favorite part of the evening was seeing all of the students who came.
“It was really nice seeing people come in who might not have otherwise come if we hadn’t reached out to them,” McCaffrey said.