So far, only musical acts scheduled as Gator Growl headliners


Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:07 p.m.

Only bands are scheduled to perform for Gator Growl this fall, a Growl official said Thursday. This would mark the first year since singer Helen Reddy headlined Growl in 1978 that a comedian isn’t a headliner.

The bands that were announced by organizers to perform at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 include co-headliners The Fray and Sister Hazel, and the New Directions Veterans Choir. Their performances for Growl, which has long been known as the world’s largest student-run pep rally, will cap off the University of Florida’s Homecoming Week. There are mixed reactions from students about the acts that have been chosen and the decision to go without a comedian.

The Fray, a rock band based out of Denver, is most well-known for hits such as “You Found Me” in November 2008 and “How to Save a Life,” a theme song on Grey’s Anatomy, in August 2006. The Fray is currently working on its fourth album, which is expected to be released by the end of the year.

“Honestly, I’m pretty pumped about the Fray,” said entomology and nematology senior James Fleming. “They’re a talented group. I particularly enjoy the vocals.”

“We all have a reason to go this time,” said civil engineering senior Zak Bedell. “Last year was pretty lame. I went because it was my sister’s first time here and my girlfriend wanted to go.”

Sister Hazel is an alternative rock band from Gainesville that is having its 20th anniversary this year. Their biggest hit is “All for You”, which was released in June 1997.

Ken Block and Drew Copeland of Sister Hazel hosted Gator Growl in 2011. Sister Hazel has been on tour throughout the country and is going to perform in Atlantic City in August.

“Didn’t Sister Hazel play two years ago?” Fleming asked. “Really? They just played.”

The New Directions Veterans Choir is an a cappella group that sings renditions of doo-wop, soul, traditional gospel and popular music, according to its website. The choir is comprised primarily of men and women who have served in the U.S. military before becoming homeless. Their appearance at Growl is well-timed because Growl will be staged three days before Veterans Day, which will be on Monday, Nov. 11.

“Many don’t know about the New Directions Veterans Choir,” said Alyssa Fagien, Gator Growl public relations director. “I took the time to look them up myself. They have an amazing story. A better day couldn’t have been picked for them because of Veterans Day.”

Instead of doing multiple songs consecutively and leaving the stage for the night, they will be performing intermittently throughout Growl, she said.

Some people in last year’s Growl audience complained that comedian Tracy Morgan was disrespectful when he told the crowd he’d get all the women at UF pregnant if he ever visited the school again. He was also criticized for talking about Hillary and Bill Clinton’s sex life.

“I wouldn’t say that was the reason why we’ve decided to go with only musicians,” she said. “From the reactions we’ve received last year, we decided to try something different.”

“I’m surprised they don’t have a comedian,” student James Fleming said. “It breaks up the monotony of the performance. It gets really boring when it’s ‘let’s get the fireworks, then The Fray, then Sister Hazel’.”

Still, Fleming said of last year’s musical act for Growl: “Josh Turner was the man.”

Although Fleming voiced surprise that there may not be a comedian at this year’s Growl, he does agree that Morgan made some inappropriate comments.

“It was very disrespectful when he said that he would get all the UF girls pregnant,” he said. “Not many people around me laughed, and those that did were probably drunk.”

“Some comedians keep making inbred jokes about Southern universities,” Fleming said. “It’s an old, overdone stereotype. That’s not what Southern culture is about here.”

Besides the performers, there were fireworks and military members jumping out of airplanes with parachutes last year.

“I don’t know if there will be fireworks this year,” Fagien said. “My guess is yes.”

Ticket prices are $17 for students and $27 for non-students, $2 more than last year. The last time ticket prices were raised was in 2008.

“The rise in ticket prices is very common,” she said. “Ticket prices rise every few years.”

Tickets can be found at www.gatorgrowl.org, the GatorZone website and at campus locations.

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