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The Dartmouth
February 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Vanessa Carlton performs for 381 at Hopkins Center

Programming Board brought Vanessa Carlton to the Dartmouth campus for a performance Tuesday night, though most Dartmouth students were happy to keep their "thousand-mile" distance.

Only 325 students attended the concert, which was held in 900-seat Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center. The total audience numbered 381 Carlton fans, which included local residents, who paid $5 more per ticket to attend.

"This was the first female vocal concert we have done in Spaulding in over four years. So we really did not know how many people would show up," Programming Board co-chair Sebastian Restrepo '07 said. "We feel it is important to the student body that we bring artist that appeal to different segments of the undergraduate community."

But other students blamed Carlton's B-list celebrity status and the concert's limited publicity for the low turnout at the event.

"Either people are embarrassed that they want to see the concert or they didn't hear about it," Andy Lesser '08 said.

Jessica Ogden '08 and Restrepo, who chair the Programming Board and expressed satisfaction with Carlton's concert, said the group is left with limited choices for performers after they consider their budget, possible venues and available dates.

Few performers are willing to travel to Hanover, they added.

Many students said the singer, songwriter and pianist was not popular enough to excite them. Most expressed little, if any, enthusiasm about the concert, claiming that Carlton's fame peaked several years ago.

"I think that not many people are interested [in the concert]," Nora Johnson '08 said. "She was popular three or four years ago. People just aren't connected to her music anymore and won't spend $10 to see her."

Despite the concert's low turnout, Programming Board members said they brought Carlton to campus because she had a significant fan base at the College.

After conducting a BlitzMail survey of students' entertainment preferences, Ogden said, members of the Programming Board attempted to confirm Carlton's popularity among Dartmouth students by searching for listings of Carlton on profiles.

A subsequent search for Carlton on, conducted Tuesday by The Dartmouth, yielded only five students who included the singer among their favorite musicians.

Students waiting outside the auditorium immediately before doors opened said they were largely apathetic about the concert.

"I'm just going because its $10, It's something to do, and she is a celebrity," Helen Kang '09 said.

Other students expressed doubt as to Carlton's celebrity status.

"I didn't know who Vanessa Carlton was; I was getting her confused with Vanessa Williams," Shaunak Mewada '06 said.

Ogden said, in her experience, student response to performers is always difficult to predict."There are always mixed reviews for any performer," she said. "We have a diverse campus, there is no way you can pick a performer the whole campus will like."

In past years, however, Programming Board has met with greater success, selling out a Maroon 5 concert in during Spring term 2004.

This year, the Programming Board has more money to spend on events like the Carlton concert, receiving $373,100 from the Undergraduate Finance Committee last year, up from $366,000 last year. Restrepo said he did not know how much remains in the Board's budget.

"As for the funds for the rest of the year, we will be holding our normal budget meeting on Friday to go over the finances of the organization after our two big shows -- the block party and tonight's show," Restrepo said.

Some attributed the lack of interest in this year's show to poor advertising. Many students said they had not heard about the concert until earlier Tuesday.

"I didn't see posters or get any blitzes about it until today," Sam Gilroy '09 said.

Restrepo, however, said he saturated the streets with advertisements for the concert during the Friday's town block party in an effort to get more people to attend.

Those who attended the concert seemed to enjoy Carlton's performance. Each song ended with an excited round of applause.