A look behind the Frost Fest stage

Once a year, Stanford pulls students out of libraries and into Frost Amphitheater to watch musicians in their element on stage. From featuring Phoebe Bridgers to Glass Animals, Frost Fest is a popular Stanford tradition known for having students on their feet – laughing, crying and screaming to their favorite musicians with friends. But who is behind the stage?

The Stanford Concert Network (SCN) is a student organization responsible for “bringing live music to the Stanford bubble.” Its student members are involved in nearly every aspect of on campus concert production, ranging from booking performance venues and concerts to directing productions and producing music. 

With a total of 300 general student members, the organization is led by a collaborative team of 15 students, according to Johan Sotelo ’25, one of SCN’s three directors. Sotelo helps to oversee the leadership team, plan Frost Fest and manage the budget for other SCN events.

Among the roles that Sotelo oversees is that held by Eli Arguello ’25, who is SCN’s co-booking lead. In this role, Arguello helps reach out to the groups who perform at SCN events throughout the year, including both student groups and external bands. 

This spring, Arguello and other SCN members planned Battle of the Bands as part of the organization’s effort to showcase student bands at least once every quarter. According to Arguello, one of the biggest challenges behind planning these events is ensuring that the same bands are not booked each year.

“[We try] to give everyone the same amount of spotlight within the Stanford Concert Network,” Arguello said. 

When Arguello and her co-lead, Avi Udash ’25, search for groups to book, they consider many factors. These range from SCN’s budget to artist availability, along with artist visibility and student interest. The duo tries to bring a diverse range of artists, to avoid being identified with one specific genre of music — but they say logistics sometimes get in the way.

“It is really hard because everyone’s always like, ‘Oh, SCN is purely indie,’” Sotelo said. “But that is one of the lower-cost [genres]. So it is really hard to be like, ‘Oh, let’s bring a big pop artist.’” 

For a student group, budgetary concerns and other logistical challenges form much of internal conversations. Financial officer Andrew Cha ’24 M.A. ’24 said tasks like grant applications are a team effort among the organization’s staff.

“I think with managing something as large of a production as a concert — and when none of us are industry professionals — we all just work together [to] be really adaptable,” Cha said.

To plan Frost Fest, SCN organizers book artists, manage their hospitality arrangements, market the festival and even photograph the show themselves. Arguello, who helped plan the festival last year, said the role involved “soliciting work from artists … and giving them funding to make those big, ambitious projects happen.”

Aligning artists’ schedules with Frost Fest is also a logistical difficulty: “Are [groups] touring? Are they in a different country? Do they say they can [perform] now and then pull out later?” Arguello said. “There’s a lot that goes on behind making Frost.” 

With all the work that goes into organizing concerts, SCN members have gained valuable memories from the final event. For Arguello, making cookies for a visiting artist with a friend during her freshman year takes the cake. 

“We were little frosh in our first Frost Fest. And that was really sweet and fun,” Arguello said.