The fall of FallFest and the rise of Oxy’s music scene

Students in the front row shout lyrics excitedly during 070 Shake’s Fall Fest Performance at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 22, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

On their way to musical success, artists like 070 ShakeTierra Whack and Kehlani played at Occidental’s FallFest. An annual tradition on campus, FallFest is a free event for Occidental students that features student openers before a performance by a headlining artist. The Occidental Programming Board uses funding from the Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) to plan this event among other campus festivities, such as SpringFest. In order to focus on uplifting Occidental artists and save the majority of their budget for SpringFest, the Programming Board said they are foregoing a headliner for FallFest this year.

Manager of the Programming Board Simon Nesbitt (senior) oversees the contracts and communication for artists that perform at Occidental. According to Nesbitt, the major reason behind the decision is the dramatically increasing cost of booking artists and production expenses.

“We haven’t been able to have as big of names as we used to have,” Nesbitt said. “We realized it made more sense financially, instead of having two smaller fests, that we dedicate all of our funding towards one SpringFest, and it can be even bigger with a bigger artist.”

Nesbitt said that by focusing on SpringFest, the Programming Board can spend more time over the course of both semesters. Nesbitt also said that the weather is typically better at the end of the spring semester compared to at the end of the fall semester.

Students in the front row shout lyrics excitedly during 070 Shake’s Fall Fest Performance at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 22, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

According to Nesbitt, in the meantime, the Programming Board plans to use its resources and platform to encourage Occidental bands and artists to perform live on campus throughout the fall.

“I’ve always had this belief that there’s a really, really talented and passionate community [of musicians] at Oxy, but it’s disjointed,” Nesbitt said. “There’s Programming Board, KOXY, Jazz Ensemble. There’s the music department and Orange Crush. All of these different organizations are responsible for organizing live events and providing resources for musicians.”

According to Nesbitt, the goal of the Programming Board this semester is to create a network of organizations that can pool resources and work more closely together, making the music community more visible and expansive.

“We don’t plan on spending that much money this semester,” Nesbitt said. “We want to work more through communication and especially promotion, letting everyone know there’s a lot to do on campus.”

Nesbitt said that the Programming Board used to organize activities beyond music events like FallFest.

Marcus Rodriguez, the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement serves as the adviser to the Programming Board. Rodriguez said he anticipates the Programming Board will receive a positive reception by growing a more dynamic programming portfolio.

“I was not involved in the decision-making process, however, I understand the desire to diversify the programs, events, and initiatives offered by the Programming Board,” Rodriguez said via email. “This also allows for more projects to be led, developed and produced by various members of [the Programming Board], which will undoubtedly enhance the experience of both the Programming staffers and the Oxy community as a whole.”

Clare Kennerly (sophomore), the station manager for KOXY, said that KOXY is hoping to collaborate with the Programming Board this semester for on-campus events.

“I’m really excited this year because there’s this huge need that arose last year for performances [from] musicians and the student music community in general,” Kennerly said. “We’ve been really wanting to help facilitate an environment to be supportive and provide a good community of our students.”

According to Kennerly and Nesbitt, reactions to this change being made in regard to FallFest have been mainly positive.

“I know that we have a lot of events traditionally in the fall, like FallFest in the past has been at the same time as Homecoming Weekend, so maybe people can just enjoy that more fully,” Kennerly said. “We’re planning on having some smaller concerts, so stay tuned.”

Contact Ava LaLonde at


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