Daily Princetonian, April 1, 1987
Costello will not play at P-Party;
Elvis Costello will not be playing at the P-Party, USG Social Chairman Liz Marsh '89 said.
Although Costello had originally accepted the USG's bid to play at Princeton, he declined to sign the contract when he was informed that the P-Party was a dance party, not a concert, Marsh said. The decision not to play was made over Spring Break, she added.
In a letter to the Prince, the USG Major Attractions Committee said Costello had not understood that the P-Party "is traditionally a loud, exciting, end-of-the-year dance party." When the nature of the party was made clear to him, the letter said Costello decided not to perform.
"He was really reluctant to play a show where people had been drinking," Marsh said, "even if it was just a few seniors."
"He wanted an 'Elvis Costello concert,' " USG President Don Lu '88 said.
Marsh said the USG was not responsible for the misunderstanding. "It's up to the agent to fully communicate with the artists," she said.
Marc Gentilella, president of Flashgroup Corporation, the talent management agency responsible for booking Costello, "had full knowledge of the show," Marsh said. "Every time we place a bid, we tell (the agents) that it's a dance concert with festival seating," she added.
Gentilella, however, said the Major Attractions Committee requested to withdraw their bid for Costello when they realized the singer wanted to play a normal concert, requiring the USG to provide at least 3,000 chairs for the audience.
"They were very thankful that we let them out of it," he said.
Members of the USG, however, contend that the decision not to formalize the contract was entirely Costello's.
"We submitted a verbal bid which is legally binding for us (but not for the artist)," Marsh said. "It wasn't our position to say we don't want him."
Lu said the USG would not have refused Costello because canceling the show would have dashed student hopes which had been raised by a March 12 article in the Prince.
Lu added that the committee had not understood that Costello would be playing solo acoustic guitar when it had originally placed its bid. "There were reservations when we found out he would be playing without his band," he said.
The USG was legally bound by its bid, however, and thus did not try to withdraw from the agreement, according to Marsh. "The whole time we were pursuing it actively," Lu said.
Gentilella said Flashgroup allowed the committee to back out of its commitment because another school, Lafayette College, had placed a bid for the same date, April 30.
Lu said this was not the first time this year that a performer has accepted a USG bid and then declined to sign a contract. "This is rather common," he said.
According to Marsh, three artists have given verbal confirmation but not signed contracts. She did not specify the names of the artists.
Members of the USG committee said they were disappointed that Costello would not play at the P-Party because of the work that had gone into securing his performance. Committee members expressed concern that Costello's name had been released before a contract had been signed.
Marsh said the Major Attractions Committee is continuing to place bids with performers.
Daily Princetonian, March 12, 1987
The Major Attractions Committee also addresses the issue on the letters page.