In a dark nook carved into a basement wall, musical guests amplify their talents over the mezzanine and down into the bustling and buzzing recreation and dining level. The sounds of live music provided by The Depot can regularly be heard emanating throughout the lower conference level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Students go there for a friendly place to relax, study and listen to local jams.
The Depot Lineup
When: 5:30 – 9:30 Friday Sept. 14
Where: Lower recreation and dining level, Cesar Chavez Student Center
But despite it usually being full of jovial students, The Depot is small, and the leadership of the venue wants to expand to bigger and better things and at no cost to SF State students, which is why Sept. 14 they are doing just that.
The Depot has teamed up with Associated Students, Inc.’s program services to set up a stage on the lower recreation and dining level to accommodate the psychedelic rock band The Growlers. The Orange County-based music group is expected to draw a crowd of hundreds, much more than The Depot can safely contain.
This maneuver was inspired by The Growlers’ first visit to SF State last spring. The concert at The Depot drew an unexpectedly large crowd, making it difficult for security staff to safely monitor the audience. The Depot staff recognized the potential hazard, and also saw an opportunity to create a more accessible and audience-friendly experience.
“We wanted to be able to accommodate a bigger space,” Aimee Barnes, assistant director for program services, said. “We also wanted to explore using different parts of the building.”
This is not the first time The Depot has used the lower dining area to set a stage for an event. They first experimented with this for last semester’s Battle of the Bands.
“That was the tester, the guinea pig event,” Gio Acosta, manager of The Depot, said. “It went smoothly, so that was the green light to use this sort of approach in the future.”
Acosta notes, however, that Friday’s show is not going to be reminiscent of last semester’s Battle of the Bands, and that this is mainly due to the expected attendance of more than 400 people.
“We’ll be able to handle it, the more the merrier,” Acosta said. “But we’ll have precautions set in case we hit our capacity.”
The event requires the cooperation and coordination of multiple vendors in the student center. The other vendors on the recreation and dining level are on board mainly because of the attention it would bring to an otherwise lesser known part of the building and the attention it would bring to their businesses.
“Everyone was thinking that it could bring more foot traffic,” Barnes said. “Everybody is excited to see how this could work.”
For the large task at hand, The Depot enlisted the help of Cesar Chavez Student Center’s program services. Both groups will split the $5,000 price tag to fund the event and provide staff to monitor and usher the crowd. Nearly all of the money spent will go directly to the artists.
“It just made sense,” said Horace Montgomery, director of programs and services for ASI, on collaborating with The Depot. “The Depot has the house, but doesn’t have the budget. We (ASI) have a bigger budget, but we don’t have the house.”
Aside from splitting the bill, ASI is helping with promotion of the show and security. About nine staff members, made up from ASI and The Depot staff, will be at the stairs and elevator leading down the to recreation and dining level to conduct bag checks for weapons and alcohol. The security staff will also be responsible for controlling the capacity of the crowd if it gets unmanageable.
Despite the work involved, both staffs insist that the students are worth it.
“I spent a lot of my undergrad time at The Depot,” Montgomery said. “It’s all about giving (students) something to do and bringing as much city life and campus life to the students who live here as possible.”
The Depot and ASI will continue to work together in the future on large-scale musical events. They hope to use the lower level stage setup at least twice a year for more popular groups.
The show runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 14, and also features Guantanamo Baywatch, POW! and The Cosmonauts. The show is completely free for SF State students.