Some of the coolest things about being part of a campus community are the frequent events and entertainment sponsored by student groups and the University. During my time at Rochester, I’ve been able to attend all kinds of spectacular shows, riveting talks, and excellent events. Here’s a sampling of my top three concerts, plays, comedians, and annual events.
UR Concerts and the Campus Activities Board (CAB) work together to bring a number of exciting, big-name musical groups to the Rochester campus each year. In addition to the famous groups that come for Meliora Weekend, the annual fall concert, and Dandelion Day, UR Concerts and CAB also make sure that Rochester’s many beloved student bands and solo artists have frequent opportunities to perform. What makes these shows even more thrilling is that you can attend them on a college student budget. While many of the shows are free, the ones that do charge are usually under $15.
1. Plain White T’s: One of my very first Rochester concerts, the Plain White T’s show was loads of fun and brought back all kinds of happy childhood memories. Seeing “Hey There Delilah” and “1, 2, 3, 4” performed live and singing along with my friends was a great bonding moment for me and my friends freshman year as well as a dream come true for our middle school selves.
2. Young the Giant: Young the Giant also came during my freshman year for my first Dandelion Day. Already a fan of hits like “Cough Syrup” and “My Body,” I spent the week leading up to the show listening to their albums on repeat. Looking back, I have nothing but happy memories of the outdoor concert where we jumped up and down to the music with a light rain falling that kept us nice and cool.
3. Matt and Kim: When I found out Matt and Kim would be performing at my junior year Dandelion Day, I couldn’t believe it. As a longtime fan of the duo I couldn’t be more excited to have the chance to see everything from “Daylight” to “Can You Blame Me” performed in person. And Matt and Kim didn’t disappoint; they kept the crowd engaged all night with high energy and lots of confetti.
The Rochester theater community is an exceptionally talented bunch that put on a wide variety of fantastic productions throughout the year. The International Theatre Program (ITP), run by Rochester’s theater department, typically puts on two full-scale productions a semester with the help of professional directors and designers. The student-run theater troupe, TOOP (The Opposite of People), perform numerous and often quirky shows. And OBOC (Off Broadway On Campus) and ROC Players give students their musical fix with both musical theater revues and full-scale productions. Additionally, the One Act Play Festival gives both theater vets and newcomers alike the chance to perform student written work.
1. A Bright Room Called Day: While I might be a little biased (seeing as I was an assistant stage manager for the show), Bright Room remains my favorite production I’ve seen come out of the International Theatre Program’s Todd Theatre during my four years at Rochester. Not only were the set, costumes, and acting superb, but the tale of a group of artists in Nazi Germany was gripping and would still make me tear up even after watching it a couple dozen times.
2. Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead: While I admit I haven’t made it to quite as many TOOP shows as I would have liked, I’m so thankful I got the chance to see their version of Dog Sees God. This play imagines Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts characters as teenagers dealing with all sorts of adolescent tribulations. TOOP put on a performance that was as humorous as it was dark and as a former Linus in my high school’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, it’s stuck with me to this day.
3. Mother Courage and Her Children: I’m a sucker for a good musical (or any musical really) and until recently they were a rarity at Rochester. While ROC Players thankfully emerged in 2016 to fill the void, it used to be that Rochester only saw a musical every four years when the International Theatre Program put them on. 2016 also happened to be one of those years for the ITP and their adaption of Mother Courage and Her Children ended up being well worth the wait. With all new music composed for Rochester’s production, this musical about the brutality of war was quite the experience.
Along with booking much beloved musical groups, the Campus Activities Board also brings several well-known comedians to campus annually. Whether you’re a comedy fanatic or just looking for some laughs, these humorous performances always seem to satisfy. Comedians have come to Rochester from Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central and usually treat students to a mix of stand-up, Q&A, and their own unique brand of entertainment.
1. Bill Hader: Possibly my favorite Saturday Night Live cast members ever, Bill Hader’s visit to Rochester was even better than I could have dreamed. He texted and sent an audience selfie to his pal and Rochester native Kristen Wiig, used his water bottle to water the plant that had been put on the stage for decoration (which began to overflow, much to the dismay of the Dean of Admissions who’d been selected to ask him questions), and was just the all-around hilarious human we all know and love.
2. B.J. Novak: While not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as Bill Hader, B.J. Novak (writer and actor for one of the most perfect TV shows ever created, The Office) was also a joy to see. He gave us his amusing thoughts on the Toy Hall of Fame, located in Rochester’s Strong National Museum of Play (yes, they do consider “the blanket” a toy), gave us a taste of his newest book and app, and graciously answered questions about The Office and his legendary friendship with Mindy Kaling.
3. Colin Jost: While I hadn’t been a particular fan of SNL’s Colin Jost, I was pleasantly surprised by his fantastic stand-up when he came to campus this fall. Accompanied by former SNL cast member, Jon Rudnitsky, the pair both delivered hilarious performances.
At Rochester, there are all kinds of recurring events and traditions that students look forward to participating in year after year. From carnivals to days of service, holiday celebrations to art exhibits, Rochester has all kinds of annual events that strengthen the campus community and make going here such a treat.
1. Boar’s Head Dinner: Started in 1934, the Boar’s Head Dinner is one of Rochester’s most treasured traditions and I’ve been lucky enough to attend two of the four held during my years at the University. Those who attend are treated to a medieval feast, Christmas caroling by Rochester’s a cappella singers, entertainment by the Strong Jugglers, and the traditional “Reading of the Boar” performed by a different professor each year.
2. ArtAwake: Organized each year by members of Rochester’s Urban Exploring group, ArtAwake is an annual festival that highlights local art, music, dance, film, and design. As a collaboration between the University and the community, ArtAwake is held in a different vacant urban space each year. Attending the festival is one of my favorite parts of spring at Rochester as it always gives me a chance to view the work of friends and exposes me to all kinds of new and unique creations.
3. King for a Day – MLK Day of Service: While I certainly have a special place in my heart for Wilson Day of Service, King for a Day is another wonderful opportunity for Rochester students to get out and serve the community. In honor of Martin Luther King, students and community members from all over Rochester come together to lend a hand to their neighbors. Each year, the event is kicked off with breakfast, performances, and a keynote speaker at the Edgerton Community Center. That’s followed by service at various organizations around the city and concluded with a reflection session and lunch back on campus.
As you can see, you’ll never be at a shortage of things to do on campus. These campus events are great ways to learn something new, help others, or simply be entertained. Take advantage of as many as you can!