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Finals Fest features Phillip Phillips

May 2, 2013

Phillip Phillips
“American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips performs during UWRF's Final Fest on Friday, May 10.

The eighth annual Finals Fest concert at UW-River Falls will feature “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips on Friday, May 10, in the outdoor Melvin Wall Amphitheatre on campus. Refreshments begin at 5 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Phillips was declared the winner of American Idol’s season 11 finale in 2012. On that same day, the 21-year-old singer/guitarist released “Home,” the song which most people will recognize him for. It was also his debut single and marked the highest debut on the Billboard Digital songs chart with 278,000 downloads sold.

“I’m a pretty normal guy,” Phillips said. “I love jammin’ with my guys. It’s the only time I feel free.”

At the end of 2012, Phillips saw his debut album, “The World From the Side of the Moon,” cross the half-million sold mark, making it the fastest-selling ever debut from an Idol winner, according to his website.

He described his music as “jazz and rock alternative sound,” in an article from the Hollywood Reporter.

In the last five years, Finals Fest has featured country, hip-hop, pop and indie-rock, with Jason DeRulo and the Twin Cities indie-rock band Cloud Cult headlining the last two years.

“Our hope is that during a student’s 4-5 year college experience, Finals Fest will provide the opportunity for a variety of live-concert experiences and maybe even exposure to music that is new to them,” said Karyn Wells, event coordinator from the Office of Student Life.

Student Life decided that this year it would be a priority to feature a national touring artist for free to the students and community. In the past they have charged an admission price for certain Finals Fest concerts to cover the cost of the artist, for instance, DeRulo, because nationally touring artists tend to be extremely expensive.

However, when they inquired about booking Phillips, they discovered that his booking fee was affordable and would allow them to feature a free show, so Wells said, “we knew we had to get in on his college tour.”

When Phillips comes to UWRF, it will mark the second time he has toured in Wisconsin. The other time was for his American Idol Live tour.

Phillips will perform at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay and UW-Stevens Point before making his final tour stop at UWRF. He also performed at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center last March.

“I love performing for college students,” Phillips said. “They let me know if the show was good or not.”

Due to Phillips’ growing popularity, Wells anticipated that a few thousand will attend the show.

“Phillip Phillips’ ability to touch upon a variety of genres and attract an all-ages group of fans will be noticed on May 10. He is still topping the charts and continues to sell out his college shows on this tour,” Wells said.

Both the Wall Amphitheatre and the rain site (Knowles Center) will provide general seating only.

“If you want to be in a specific spot, you should arrive early,” Wells said.

However, Wells also added that students should keep in mind that “University Productions always provides an incredible sound/light experience, thus, the concert will look and sound spectacular regardless of where you’re standing.”

While Phillips is popular to most students, some students, like senior Luke Affolter, are deciding not to attend the concert. While Affolter is a guitarist like Phillips, he said his music doesn’t interest him.

“He just doesn’t play my type of music. I know it is impossible for them (Student Life) to get someone that everyone likes, but I am glad they are bringing in such a big name,” Affolter said. “It is good for our University.”

Phillips first began making music when he was 14, thanks largely to his older sister’s boyfriend (and now husband) Benjamin Neil, according to his website.

Several years later, Phillips formed an acoustic band with his sister and brother-in-law and added singing to his repertoire.

“I used to always keep my singing to myself and never let anyone hear me, but then my sister and brother-in-law caught me one night and told me I had to start singing in the band,” he said in his biography on his website.

“We played at a church that Sunday and the room was packed and I thought I was going to pass out, but I did it.”

After graduating high school, Phillips began studying industrial systems technology at Albany Technical College in Georgia, his home state, and continued playing music with his brother-in-law.

“We got a name for ourselves, playing in college towns and at festivals, sometimes just playing for free or for food,” Phillips said.

With encouragement from his family and friends, Phillips took a break from working in his family’s pawn shop and auditioned for American Idol in summer 2011 - and on May 23, 2012, was named the winner of Idol’s 11th season.

If seeing an American Idol winner was not enough of an incentive for some students, Wells said, there were several reasons she offered on why students should attend.

“Why not? First of all, it’s a big fun party on the last day of classes. Second, there’s no admission fee. Third, students are paying for it through their segregated university fees, so they should take advantage of it,” Wells said. “I can’t think of a better way for a student to reward themselves and celebrate their accomplishments at the end of the year.”

“Life’s too short not to have fun,” added Phillips.

The Melvin Wall Amphitheatre is located along the trail behind Hathorn Hall.

In the case of inclement weather, the concert will be held in Knowles Center. With further questions or accommodation requests, contact Wells in the Office of Student Life at 715-425-4444.