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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer


The Driver Era to perform at annual SUB concert

On Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., over 2,000 undergraduate students opened their laptops to buy tickets from the Notre Dame Student Shop. Within five minutes, the site was lagging. Within fifteen minutes, the site crashed.

The cause of demand was an upcoming concert sponsored by the Student Union Board (SUB) featuring The Driver Era. 

The Driver Era is an indie rock duo consisting of brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch, formerly members of the defunct family band R5. R5 and The Driver Era are both predominantly known for their famous frontman Ross Lynch, who starred in the Disney Channel show “Austin & Ally,” and the film series “Teen Beach Movie.” 

Last year, Sound of SUB featured up-and-coming folk artist Noah Kahan — just as he was gaining online popularity — in Notre Dame’s Stepan Center. 

Previous performers include pop-punk rapper KennyHoopla and indie band COIN in the 2021-2022 school year. In 2017-2018, American rapper GoldLink and singer-songwriter Quinn XCII performed on campus. 

In 2020, SUB took a brief break from live performances. SUB was going to host Young the Giant in the spring, but the performance was canceled due to COVID-19. In the fall, however, they hosted a socially distanced concert in the Notre Dame stadium with a live-streamed performance from Lewis the Child.

After the pandemic, the concert series was rebranded to “The Sound of SUB.” SUB director of programming Juliana Ramirez said the rebrand was intended to let students know where all the labor was coming from, especially since other organizations have started to host concerts.

SUB also hosts a variety of comedians, bringing out popular internet celebrities like Noel Miller and Brittany Broski.

SUB concert committee chair Mary Laird has been working to put together this event since June, saying she frequently called different booking agents on the way home from her summer internship. 

“We, as a committee and as an organization, have been working really hard,” she said. “We’re excited to put on this event for everyone and hope it is a memorable night for you.”

Laird and Ramirez gave The Observer a look into their selection process, and how they ended up planning and choosing The Driver Era. 

General process

The SUB concert committee meets weekly throughout the year and provides potential dates, venues and performers. 

First, the committee picks a date, which narrows down their options. Then, the students work with different booking agencies — many of which they’ve formed working relationships with — to see what kind of talent they can get. 

“We typically pick from a packet of three to four pages of artists which includes a range of quotes and price points,” Ramirez said. “Our job as students is to be creative and innovative in picking a set that appeals to college students. We try to vary the genre from year to year — and consider the content of their discography.”

Then the SUB executive director Lily Condodina and advisor Antwann Harper work together to figure out contracting issues and any technical and legal questions the committee might have.

Why The Driver Era?

At one point in the process, the concert committee was seriously considering Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour opener Sabrina Carpenter, but she was outside of their price point.

“We try to limit outside discussions about our artists until our release date because things change all the time,” Ramirez said. “It’s a fun tradition and it’s exciting to build that suspense.”

Ultimately, the concert committee is still very happy with their decision, Laird asserted. 

“The Driver Era has a fun upbeat vibe and is good with college crowds,” Laird said. As a Disney fan, she said she grew up with a lot of fond memories of frontman Ross Lynch in “Austin & Ally.” 


Laird and Ramirez assert SUB’s concert budget has stayed relatively stable over the past four years.

“I’m not sure if I can talk specific numbers, but I would say about half of [SUB’s] budget is spent on the annual concert,” Ramirez said. “You have to consider, in addition to who we’re booking, the production costs. We need to pay for the stage and speakers, the barricades, security like the police and ushers, food trucks, etc. to make sure this is a fun and safe event for everyone.” 

According to Celebrity Talent International, booking The Driver Era ranges anywhere from $75,000-$149,999. 

After Legends remodeled, SUB has shifted to using Stepan Center as its main venue for the Sound of SUB concerts because it is more cost-effective and the production equipment has been removed.

Ticket distribution

Historically, the Notre Dame Student Shop has been overwhelmed by high demand. As a result, Ramirez said the site shut-down “didn’t catch us off guard.” 

The team pivoted by emailing out a Google Form for tickets. The first couple thousand students to fill out the form were emailed a secret link to purchase tickets from the Student Shop.

Ramirez said the committee “floated the idea” of a Keenan Revue style in-person line to elevate the hype for the event, but the team ultimately decided against it. 

“Despite the slow connection, we still think the Student Shop is our best option,” Ramirez said. “We think it’s preferable to the Keenan Revue style because it interrupts your whole day standing in line.”

Within the first 20-30 minutes with the open form, there were over 1,000 requests for tickets. The event sold out before it could open sales to Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College, and there is now a waitlist for tickets.