Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

’Sco Booker Spotlight: From Paperwork to Performance

Abe Frato
’Sco bookers are tasked with bringing artists to perform.

The high-energy ’Sco is a popular late-night destination in the basement of Wilder Hall where Oberlin students immerse themselves in bustling crowds, music, and lights. Students dance and sing along to a variety of modern artists ranging anywhere from jazz to rock and roll to lo-fi and everything in between. College third-year Marta Abrams, a Student Union Programming Committee promoter at The ’Sco, has worked behind the scenes to bring everything together since fall of 2022. Now they’re giving us an inside look into what it takes to book the artists both fresh and familiar.

Everything starts with communication. 

“At first, we send emails to management,” Abrams said. “We look up any musical artists that we want. We look up their websites or social media and get in touch with their booking person or to them directly.”

The conversation then goes on to cover any financial aspects. 

“We ask how much they would want — money-wise — from us,” Abrams said. “If we get a response, we then start communicating logistics about the date, maybe trying to lower the price. Then we get contracts from them.” 

Once the day of the concert arrives, we get to Abrams’ favorite part of their job.

 “When I get a good crowd for a show that I put on, it means the world to me,” Abrams said. “It’s a total community-building activity, and it makes me realize how many people love the music that I listen to as well.” 

Abrams’ love for The ’Sco is certainly shared among the Oberlin student community. Thanks to the efforts of Abrams and their five current co-bookers, The ’Sco continues to flourish as a popular evening venue. Promoters rotate to take on individual shows with the musical artists of their choosing and follow them through that process. Abrams is proudest to have personally booked Jeffrey Lewis and Dear Nora last year, among many others.

“There’s no downside to putting on these shows,” Abrams said. “Even if it’s not a huge crowd, we can all just get a little personal concert.”

The bookers also get to meet some of their musical idols in person. One of Abrams’ favorite artists, Jonathan Richman, founded the proto-punk band The Modern Lovers and is a successful solo rock ‘n’ roll singer-songwriter.

“We were able to have a really nice conversation,” Abrams said.

Though Abrams had seen Richman in concert before, this night was special, as the two were able to talk after the show about growing up in the Boston area. However, it’s not only after the concert that bookers get to spend time with the artists.

“We are there when they arrive, and we welcome them,” said Abrams. “We show them around the town if they have time before soundcheck, and sometimes they stay at the hotel. It’s always nice when they do because then they’re close by. We do soundcheck, and they get to chill for a bit before they actually put on the show. Then it’s the show, and it’s very exciting.”

This past Thursday, The ’Sco brought in Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche, with an opening act by Conservatory fourth-year vocalist Sehréa N’dayu. Next week, there’s even more to come. On Nov. 14, The ’Sco will be welcoming Lealani, a multi-instrumentalist all the way from Pomona, CA, along with student opener Whaleshark. This is all the manifestation of the impassioned efforts of our bookers — seeing the process through from paperwork to performance.

Abrams encourages any interested Oberlin students to become involved in the booking process. Otherwise, head on over to the basement of Wilder and enjoy the incredible music and community brought right to your doorstep.

“I think that it’s overall one of the coolest jobs that I will ever get in my life,” Abrams said. “Being able to create such a special space for students is a really amazing opportunity.”

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