Bruno Mars headlining FlashFest

Anthony Dominic

TV2 Video: FlashFest 2011

KentWired Video

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Bruno Mars will headline FlashFest, Kent State’s annual music festival, the week before finals. The Grammy award-winning singer will be joined by pop quartet We The Kings and British rapper Plan B.

Jeff Hammond, director of Undergraduate Student Government Programming, made the announcement on a TV2 broadcast Tuesday. Students had mixed reactions.

“I would like to see a little more diversity,” said Michael Zickefoose, freshman geology major. “All the bands are sort of poppy.”

Dylan Sonderman, sophomore English major, said he couldn’t be less excited about the lineup.

“We The Kings are for middle school girls,” Sonderman said. “I want good rock.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Stephanie Taylor, freshman public relations major, said she likes this year’s artists and expects they will draw a lot of attention.

“Many people listen to Bruno Mars because he is featured on the radio, but not as many people know We The Kings,” Taylor said. “It will attract those in the student body who don’t listen to mainstream music.”

Taylor said she plans on attending if she can afford a ticket, as students will have to pay to attend this year’s festival — a first for FlashFest. Hammond said the charge is because the main part of the concert will be held in the M.A.C. Center, which will require tickets. Hammond also noted that MTV set up its own stage for last year’s festival, which was held entirely on Manchester Field.

“We know it’s a student concert, but the charge will only be $5,” Hammond said. “It’s just because it’s indoors, and we’ll have to monitor tickets.”

Hammond said before the main concerts begin, there will be games and activities in Manchester Field. Local bands, including the runner-up of USG’s battle of the bands, will also perform in the field. The winner of the battle of the bands will be opening the show in the M.A.C. Center.

Hammond said the same booking agent who helped USG land Kid Cudi and Drake approached Kent State about Mars.

“He said Bruno wanted to start playing colleges and fortunately he ended up being available for the date we had set for FlashFest,” Hammond said. “He’s a big and up-and-coming name, and we were able to get him right before he won his Grammy.”

Mars received seven Grammy nominations this year and one win for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Just the Way You Are.”

Hammond said he anticipates a large turnout for Mars.

“I’m hoping since we have a really big name, it’s going to be good,” Hammond said. “And We The Kings will bring a different style into the mix like we were looking for.”

Student tickets are $5 and go on sale April 5, and tickets for the general public are $25 and go on sale April 8. The festival will be held April 28.

Contact Anthony Dominic at [email protected].