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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Snakes on the Lake organizers selected popular Madison location The Frequency as the 2016 venue. 

Snakes on the Lake organizers selected popular Madison location The Frequency as the 2016 venue. 

Snake on the Lake 2016 venue lacks inclusivity of past performances

Trigger Warning from the writer: This piece mentions sexual assault.

Snake on the Lake 2016 was a great time for many, but lacked the inclusivity that should accompany a free student-run show.

I believe the students at WSUM successfully pulled off the mini music festival at last week’s stunning show at The Frequency. Each of the performances, from headliners like Whitney to the local talent of Trophy Dad, was intimate, exciting, free and therefore accessible to many students. The flaw was an obvious factor of the night, the space. The Frequency did not accommodate everyone who wanted to attend, and it bares discussion that the venue is a more dangerous place than other Madison locations for people who are vulnerable to sexual assault. Past Snake on the Lake venues were more inclusive due to both their locations and capacity.

The Frequency is known for having quality sound, and for being an intimate venue where Madisonians come extremely close to their favorite acts. It’s also known for having people collapsing from heat exhaustion. While for some the space was exciting, others were left out, and more were prevented from enjoying the music because of the way its small space made their bodies more vulnerable than others. WSUM should consider these factors when booking a show that traditionally shows off Madison’s music scene to incoming freshmen, while drawing huge names like The White Stripes and Whitney.

Before Trophy Dad even played, a large man came out from The Frequency and told the fans who stretched around the block that they could no longer let anyone in. They were already at capacity and there was a fire hazard. I was a few steps back from the door, and decided I would wait to see if anyone left. The usual line shenanigans, namely cutting, ensued. People found friends farther up in line and jockeyed for positions, while others left with long faces.

As the night went on, it seemed that fewer and fewer people were able to stand the literal heat. More people were in attendance for the openers than for the actual headliners.

One could argue that the people left outside were not as dedicated as the fans who had the time to line up early to get in, but, I and many other people who showed up late had obligations. We had jobs, relationships, classes and general necessities of survival to take care of before we allowed ourselves the joy of live music. At past Snake on the Lake events, people could show up at the more public spaces like the terrace and James Madison Park as their lives allowed.

I trust that the students at WSUM made the best choice they could with the resources and information available. WSUM is of course limited by its own financial constraints, and perhaps the Terrace was overlooked due to the construction. Despite these factors, WSUM should be aware of what is lost when a show takes place in a venue that is more exclusive to certain bodies and genders. The as-of-now undocumented, but apparent rates of sexual assault in small and dark music venues should not be dismissed for an aesthetic pleasure.

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