The history of Spring Jam

How the event got big enough to score acts like this year’s Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek

The original flyer for spring jam.  PHOTO COURTESY DAILY ARCHIVE

Ashley Goetz

The original flyer for spring jam. PHOTO COURTESY DAILY ARCHIVE

WHAT: Spring Jam Block Party with Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek) WHERE: Riverbend Plaza, behind Coffman WHEN: Saturday, April 25, 3 p.m. âÄì 10 p.m. TICKETS: Free With the exception of Mason Jennings and Doomtree in 2006 and last yearâÄôs headliner, Christopher Robin err âĦ I mean, Ben Kweller, Spring JamâÄôs repertoire of musical acts over the years has been mediocre at best. Luckily, Talib Kweli and Hi-TekâÄôs forthcoming visit to Spring Jam reaches an unprecedented height in musical quality for the annual beer-sloshed, frat-centric, campus-wide festival. Hopefully, the arrival of the two hip-hop mainstays will usher in a new age of worthwhile stars gracing the stage and obliterate memories of the lackluster acts of years past (weâÄôre talking about you, Everclear, in 2005). But just what is Spring Jam? And furthermore, why do we have it? The year was 1942. Amidst a flurry of war bonds, radio drama and appropriately worn fedoras, the University organized a âÄúCampus CarnivalâÄù to boost morale as well as pomade sales. Similar to Pokemón, the event went through stages of evolution. By 1970 the festivities had transformed into âÄúGreek Week,âÄù which ran until the âÄô90s. Then it morphed into its final, or âÄúRaichu,âÄù phase: Spring Jam. Logically, Spin Doctors would have headlined these early years with backup vocals by Sophie B. Hawkins and Eagle Eye Cherry, but alas, because Spring Jam wasnâÄôt officially a University of Minnesota event during these first years, support from the college was relatively small âÄî as were the bands. Up until the new millennium, the organization as well as funding for Spring Jam seemed to remain largely Greek. Although the University and student union started to take responsibility between 1990 and 1995, a large portion of the activities continued taking place off campus. But as Y2K cooled off, Spring Jam began to grow like the bellies of so many first-year students on the 20-meals-a-week plan. The Student Union and Activities office began booking the bands, with mixed results. Although they got off to a rather hempy start, SUA has seemed to get their act together more and more, culminating with last yearâÄôs man/boy Ben Kweller and this yearâÄôs Reflection Eternal. This yearâÄôs Spring Jam week will see many of the now traditional activities such as the athletics, Ballyhoo dance competition and battle of the bands, as well as those geared toward social consciousness, like the blood drive or the environmental awareness fair. And no, keg stands do not count in either category. For those of you who arenâÄôt on the eight-year graduation plan, hereâÄôs a list of the headliners over the last few years. 2002: Wookie Foot 2003: The Big Wu 2004: Possibly Bailey 2005: Everclear 2006: Mason Jennings 2007: Rusted Root 2008: Ben Kweller