Thousands of screaming University of Colorado students showed up at Farrand Field on Saturday night for the campus’ free, student-only New Student Welcome Concert, which neighbors say was far quieter than last year.
The show, put on by CU’s Program Council, was headlined by Fort Collins electronic artist Pretty Lights. The concert — also featuring Savoy and DJ Hot to Death — was scheduled to last about four hours, ending at 11 p.m.
Freshman Ali Warner, 18, was among the first in line and planned to rock all night.
“I love concerts,” the environmental-studies major said. “I love Pretty Lights.”
While the official student orientation was a good chance to meet other freshmen, the Wisconsin native said, a concert is a better venue for making friends.
“It was important to band with the other freshmen who wanted to come out,” she said. “I think it’s easier to meet people at concerts rather than being forced together.”
For the first time, only CU students were allowed at the show. In the past, Program Council has held the concert just for students but never regulated it, Director Justin Greenstein said.
Greenstein estimated the crowd this year at up to 5,000 students, whose fees pay for the concert. Last year, about 7,000 people attended the show.
“The goal is just a welcoming event for the new students,” Greenstein said. “It shows that there is something to do on campus to go and enjoy.”
The popular concert drew dozens of complaints last fall from as far away as south Boulder’s Lehigh Street, as the sound system spewed music well outside the campus’ borders.
The university took notice, and went to work this year reconfiguring the field’s speakers to better manage the overflow of noise into nearby neighborhoods.
In June, the university conducted sound tests at Farrand Field that made little noise off campus.
An acoustic engineering firm, along with the city’s environmental and zoning enforcement office, helped monitor the decibel levels at locations around campus and throughout Boulder.
Bronson Hilliard, a CU spokesman, said while there has never been any evidence that the blaring concert violated the city’s noise ordinances, the university has worked to mitigate the effects to be a good neighbor.
“Sound is weird in Boulder,” he said. “You’ve got the Flatirons, the wind; it’s a very unique challenge.”
Hilliard said the speaker system was changed and acoustic sound checks performed prior to the concert, “So that the sound doesn’t carry the way it did last year.”
A hotline was set up Saturday at the university for neighbors to call about any excessive noise.
Residents who called the line Saturday were given the option of having a sound technician drive to their neighborhood to check the sound levels.
A Boulder police dispatcher said they were referring any complaints to the hotline rather than sending city officers to investigate.A person who answered the hotline Saturday night said she was told by university officials not to release the number of calls the line received.
CU police Cmdr. Tim McGraw said he knew of only one noise complaint by 10 p.m., “which is far different than last year when the phone rang nonstop.”
In south Boulder’s Martin Acres neighborhood, resident Ralph Freitik was outside washing his truck about 8 p.m. and said he couldn’t hear the music — unlike last year.
“I could hear it from here,” Freitik said. “I rode my bike to the campus to see what was going on.”
CU’s fall-semester classes start Monday.