Thousands attend Spring Jam block party; Everclear performs

Ryan Dionne

Low temperatures and rain are notorious for the Spring Jam block party, and this year was no exception.

But bad weather, flying shoes and an abundance of middle fingers didn’t stop Everclear from taking the stage at approximately 9:15 p.m. Saturday.

“How you doing, you wet, wonderful bastards?” said Art Alexakis, the band’s lead singer, when Everclear stepped on stage.

The rain stopped shortly after the band began its 90-minute set, which opened with its popular song, “Everything to Everyone.”

Alexakis said he likes opening with a fan favorite.

“It gets people up and going,” he said.

The concert attracted between 3,000 and 4,000 people who crammed in front of the stage at Riverbend Commons Plaza.

Other concert-goers sat on stairs inside Coffman Union or watched from rooms in Riverbend Commons.

It’s hard to predict a certain turnout, because the plaza is a new site for the block party, said Corey Christopher Coonen, Spring Jam’s co-coordinator.

Two years ago at the block party, event organizers estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 people attended, Coonen said.

University Police Sgt. Erik Stenemann said the site was pretty good, though.

“The problem with Spring Jam is always the noise,” he said.

Some people in Riverbend Commons and Comstock Hall might be unhappy with the noise, Stenemann said, but Church Street Southeast, where the concert used to take place, was no better.

Stenemann said there were at most 20 officers present at one time to help take care of any incidents.

Some officers carried pepper-ball guns, which look like paintball guns. But instead of paint, the gun shoots balls of an irritating pepper powder, he said.

The gun allows officers to target certain individuals, instead of affecting a large number of people as pepper spray would, Stenemann said.

The crowd was reasonably well-behaved, and there were no major occurrences, he said.

Most of the night’s incidents were alcohol-induced, including a few passed-out students and an attendee who punched another person.

Courtney Araskog, block party chairwoman, said the turnout was very good, considering the bad weather.

The Spring Jam Committee even pushed the week’s festivities back this year in hopes of better weather, said Travis Fischer, Spring Jam co-coordinator.

The block party committee has been planning the event since the end of October, Coonen said.

Mike Deyle, Minnesota Programs and Activities Council major events chairman, said that Everclear accepted the invitation to play in early April. The band received approximately $26,000 to perform.

But not everyone was happy Everclear was the featured band.

“They could have found a better band for sure,” said Andrew Pieschel, a first-year marketing and management student who attended the concert.

Pieschel knows some of Everclear’s popular songs but isn’t a big fan, he said.

Dana Olson, a postsecondary education student at the concert, said many concert-goers were not paying attention to the band.

Olson is an Everclear fan and has all its albums, she said.

“I love ’em,” Olson said.

The five-member band played a mix of old and new songs, including some from the album it is currently working on.

“It’s not about the whole rock star thing,” Alexakis said. “It’s about the music.”

Before Everclear went onstage, Cowboy Curtis and a group that won the Spring Jam Battle of the Bands contest opened the show. The contest’s winner comprised students from Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Tau Omega and Alpha Omicron Pi.