Indiana Daily Student

Mellencamp comes home

Free concert draws students, faculty from all over campus

John Mellencamp's free performance in Woodlawn Field Thursday drew a crowd of fans, both students and community members.\n"I think it was pretty good," he said in a press conference following the show. "It was pretty hot, but nothing like Nashville was." \nThe rock star made it clear, though, that his impromptu show was by no means a concert.\n"What happened today was just the opposite of what our concerts are," Mellencamp said. \nHe said concerts are about business and promoting his music. \n"I was tired of everything being so structured in my life, tired of the music business," he said.\nMellencamp has been doing free surprise acoustic performances in various cities this month. \nHe spoke of folk musician Woody Guthrie, as the inspiration for his tour.\n"Guthrie used to go out and play for people in the fields," he said. "Now, most people work in office buildings."\nLt. Jerry Minger of the IU Police Department said between 3,000 and 10,000 people attended the performance. But he said an exact count was difficult because there was a steady flow of people in and out.\n"The crowd was outstanding," he said. "Everyone was extremely cooperative."\nLt. Col. Wayne Pollard, a professor of military science, called off his afternoon classes so his students would have a chance to see Mellencamp play.\n"This is the bigger event. Mellencamp is a big supporter (of IU), and this is our way to show our support for him," Pollard said. "We (professors) ask people to do a lot of stuff in their free time, so we can be a little understanding" when such an event comes up, he said.\nJeremy Hambrick, a sophomore, chose to attend the performance rather than his class. "Mellencamp is an Indiana tradition, the roots of Indiana," he said.\n"This doesn't happen very often," said Jeff Wright, also a sophomore.\nMeanwhile, Tim Kolar, a junior and the president of Pi Kappa Alpha, was working with other fraternity members to pass out free bottles of cold water to the crowd in the sweltering heat. The fraternity accepted donations for the water, which will be given to Riley's Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.\n"We're trying to keep these people cold with some water," Kolar said. "We're out here doing community service at a nice free concert."\nMinger said he thought the water had prevented untold numbers of heat-related problems.\nKolar did miss class for the event, but said he e-mailed his professor, who approved his absence.\n "Hopefully, there are other teachers out there who understand," he said.\n"I think it's great that musicians who have extreme amounts of money can do this sort of thing."\n"The whole purpose (of this performance) is to lighten up their day a little," Mellencamp said during the press conference. He added that his tour of free shows was starting to resemble a job.\nWhen asked if he thought he broke the record for most students skipping class, Mellencamp said, "I doubt it, man."\nWendy Turow, a special education teacher in Indianapolis, took the day off of work to come down and see the show.\n"It's better now than it would be at night ' people can get out here and party," her husband, Ben Turow, said. "I've been a big fan for a number of years, but I've never seen an acoustic show."\nTravis Moore, a sophomore, and Jack Yates, a freshman, left the show before Mellencamp was done playing. \n"It's hot, man," Moore said. "It's just too hot out. It's dangerous."\nReed Brown and Matt Farmer of the Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Service were on hand in case of a medical emergency. \n"We had a few heat-related problems, but nothing serious," Brown said. "We were prepared with that, especially with this heat."\nFarmer said that the time of day and the nature of the show didn't have them too worried. "With such a young crowd, everyone's pretty healthy. And it's during the day, so everyone's pretty sober," he said. "We'd be worried if the crowd was elderly, or if people had been consuming alcohol."\n"Everyone was in extremely high spirits," Minger said.

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