"I'm excited about getting through this week — because we've had three sellout shows," Brian Ross, program and events manager for University Centers tells the Reader. "I'm amped about my student staff and what they continue to book. The first was a group named Typhoon out of Portland, very popular with the students and very popular off campus. Then there was Cherub with Mansions on the Moon, very electronic, like a dance-party. Finally, the international artist José González, who's huge coming out of Europe. Several of his songs have well over a million 'likes' on Spotify. He really resonates with the students and off-campus. It's nice when we have that kind of mix because the venue is a hybrid. It's not meant to only serve the students, but also those who wouldn't normally come to campus."
The venue is the Loft, the all-ages UCSD nightclub located on the second floor of the Price Center. Although Ross has been booking shows at the university since 2004, he is quick to point out that his job is a collaboration. "The room has always had about three booking sources: one is my office, with a staff of 13 students who handle the day-to-day management. The next is Art Power, who do 20 to 30 dates annually, and then you have the Associated Students, they will draw up 4 or 5 shows per quarter."
Ross, who's worked for the owners of Winston's and the now-defunct 4th & B, among other venues, sees a definite advantage to working at a place like UCSD. "My students are a group of 19- to 21-year-olds that are functioning on the same career level as someone in their 30s or 40s. It's really fun to be around them because they always bring a new perspective. It's part of the job to be discovering what's up and coming, and the students always bring something fresh and exciting."
So what's coming up at the Loft? "Joe Garrison is bringing Night People, a 15-piece band, Lucian Ban and Jorge Silvester are coming with Mark Dresser, Anthony Davis, and Hugh Ragin opening, and Hunter Hunted has a show here on November 13 that has Soda Pants on the bill. They just won the Best New Artist at the SDMA. Soda Pants is a band that developed at UCSD, and it's a really great opportunity to see and hear a San Diego/UCSD band with a national group like Hunter Hunted, which has been featured on the Conan show. Also, Noah Gundersen performs on November 22."
Is there a philosophy behind the shows he books? "I'm always trying to get some level of cross-pollination going," says Ross, as we take in the José González sound check. "And the students pick up on this — one time we had drummer Steve Smith (from Journey) sit in with a group of students; it can be really fun when it's planned right."