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Paper Void, Yeasayer open for veteran indie band Dispatch at Stanford's Frost Amphitheater

Art installations and some of the best Bay Area food trucks round out the music and arts festival on May 17.

Ryan Mastro Dispatch

Indie band Dispatch is the headliner at this year's Frost Music and Arts Festival at Stanford's Frost Amphitheater on May 17.

The third annual Frost Music and Arts Festival this Saturday, May 17, features three bands, a fleet of food trucks and several art installations created in Michael Sturtz's d.school class specifically for the festival.

The musical lineup at Frost Amphitheater starts with campus-local Paper Void, followed by Yeasayer and finally Dispatch.

Tickets are on sale now. General public tickets are $40, Stanford student tickets are $25 and Stanford student group tickets (10 or more) are $20. Frost Amphitheater gates open at 2 p.m. and the first band takes the stage at 3 p.m. Outside food and beverages in unopened plastic containers are allowed inside Frost, but no alcohol.

Engineering major Frances Ball, director of this event, has been involved with bringing live music to campus with the Stanford Concert Network for three years. She said her experience is paying off.

"Having been the financial officer last year makes my current role as director much easier because I understand how different decisions will impact our budget," Ball said. "Working and attending the first and second annual Frost Music and Arts Festivals allows me to better understand the overall artistic vision of Frost, which has helped immensely with planning this year's show."

Opening the Frost concert is Paper Void, an eight-piece improvisational jazz band with a high-energy, down-tempo sound combination. The band was founded last year by recent graduate Gavin Leeper. Members are a mix of alumni and current students.

Next up is Yeasayer, a four-piece psychedelic pop band from Brooklyn, New York.

Headliner with a social conscience

Formed at Vermont's Middlebury College in the early 1990s, Dispatch is an indie darling that built most of its reputation through word-of-mouth endorsements and crowd-pleasing live performances. The band has eight releases to its name in 20 years of off-and-on performing and recording. Its last release was a live double-disc titled Ain't No Trip To Cleveland: Vol. 1, issued in June 2013.

In the two decades since forming the band, the members have developed a keen sense of social responsibility that is evident from their file-sharing activism during the Napster days to benefit concerts for Zimbabwe. Previous philanthropic endeavors included the Elias Fund supporting Zimbabwean youth and the Relief Project helping victims of natural disasters. Ileana's Smile, a film project bringing attention to vulnerable children in developing countries, is an active project.

Before Dispatch plays the festival, the band will team up with fans and volunteers for a pre-show service project with Calling All Crows and a local family health center.

The band's Frost appearance is its last stateside concert before its upcoming European tour.

Student art and sound

The increasingly developed art component of the festival is thanks to a two-quarter class at the Hasso Platner Institute of Design at Stanford, commonly known as the d.school. The course taught by lecturer Michael Sturtz is devoted to creating art installations. Drawing on the fields of design, art, performance and engineering, students have created interactive art and performance pieces to be showcased at Frost. Projects range from interactive art to unconventional set design, and from site-specific sculpture to immersive performance.

Engineering major Andrea Stein is a student in the installation class and also press manager for the concert. "For my project, I am working on a whale skeleton made of metal and recycled cans," she said. "Whales wash up dead on shores with stomachs full of trash and my project seeks to remind people of our consumerism and how our actions affect other creatures."

In the festival spirit, she added, the interactive installations invite people to play, touch, feel, listen, ride, relax, smell and, of course, have fun.

Returning sponsors

Stanford Concert Network's sponsors – the Graduate Student Council, Cardinal Nights and Stanford Arts Institute – are subsidizing student tickets to help make this annual event accessible to everyone.

"Cardinal Nights was a founding partner and supporter of this annual tradition," said Ralph Castro, the associate dean of student affairs and the director of the Office of Alcohol Policy & Education. "We know there is tremendous student support for Frost concerts and we want to continue to aid in making the spring concert a successful event. We are very proud of Cardinal Nights' connection."

In 2011, Castro helped design, direct and launch Cardinal Nights as a program that offers attractive social alternatives to drinking alcohol and provides a safe space for non-drinkers.

The Graduate Student Council is helping to fund the Frost festival again this year. "We believe the sponsorship is important given that several hundred graduate students will attend the event," said GSC co-chair Bryce Anzelmo. "We know the concert will bring great entertainment for the student population."