UNIQUE offers free concerts in between classes

Miriam Arghandiwal

The University Union’s UNIQUE Program works hard to produce entertainment and educational events for Sacramento State students. Despite the organization’s hard work, one of its more frequent events, “Nooners,” tend to go unrecognized by students on campus.

Since 1980, UNIQUE has regularly held Nooners, which are small one-hour concerts. The concerts take place at noon on Wednesdays inside the University Union.

Justin Randle, senior psychology major and student assistant for UNIQUE, said a Nooner usually showcases a musician or band, but is not limited to just that. Nooners can also showcase plays or comedy stand-up acts, he said.

Zenia LaPorte, UNIQUE programs adviser, said Nooners offer a chance for students to see the bands they would otherwise see at local clubs. However, at local clubs, students are likely to pay a cover charge and many places do not welcome all ages. At Nooners, anyone can watch them for free, she said.

“Usually people don’t know the artist playing too well, so there is not a big turnout at first, but as people walk through the Union, they stop by,” Randle said.

Shaina Sanchez, senior psychology major, said she has not heard of the Nooners.

“I love all types of music, and Nooners definitely sound like something that would be of interest to attend,” she said.

LaPorte said she believes the majority of students do know about Nooners but choose not to attend because they are not personally familiar with the band.

“That’s part of the point of going to these shows; getting to know new music for free,” she said. “Unfamiliarity with the band is just another reason why students should go, though.”

UNIQUE focuses their recruitment on acts that are appealing to students. Randle said members at UNIQUE do this by searching for local and upcoming artists that have some sort of following or a connection with students on campus.

LaPorte said when Nooners first started, bands used to send in or drop off their press kits, which consisted of a CD or cassette, a photo and a biography. These days, UNIQUE gets electronic press kits through e-mails, she said.

It also get electronic press kits through a site called SonicBids, which is a way for bands to see local promoters and venues and send their kits that way, LaPorte said.

Randle said UNIQUE then pays the artist through funds it receives from the Union.

“They’re not expensive, if an artist has a strong following they will cost a little more than other Nooners; it varies between bands,” he said.

Randle said UNIQUE tries to bring different types of artists to Sac State.

“Two semesters ago we had a band that played with an electric xylophone and that was something new for a lot of people to see,” he said. “Mostly we focus on what students would want to see.”

UNIQUE has booked a Concord-based rock band named Stomacher for the first Nooner of the semester. The band will perform today at noon in Serna Plaza, outside the Union.

Stomacher, which was previously known as In Reverent Fear, has been together for 10 years, said Ryan Thornberry, the group’s manager. He said the band is familiar with playing at small venues like Sac State.

Nooners are also opportunities for artists to build their followings.

“The band definitely picks up fans from these kind of things, we get a lot of new sign ups for our email listing,” Thornberry said. “We get new fans from every show we play in.”

Living up to UNIQUE’s mission to bring new sounds to Sac State, Thornberry said Stomacher offers students a musical performance unlike any they have seen before from a band of this size.

LaPorte said UNIQUE is constantly evolving the way it promotes events to students, so bands like Stomacher do not go unnoticed. Over the past year, UNIQUE has used Facebook and Twitter to send out invitations and reminders.

Both networking sites have given UNIQUE positive results, she said.

Bands like Deftones and Cakes were among past performers who also became commercially popular.

“That’s a great reason to go, you might be seeing a band just before they blow up and you can say you “knew them when..’,” Laporte said.

If nothing else, LaPorte said Nooners were a great way for students to take a break and enjoy themselves for a while.

“We sometimes have outdoor Nooners, where students can bring their lunch, hangout under the sun and just chill out between classes listening to music,” she said.

Miriam Arghandiwal can be reached at [email protected]