After spending the day enjoying the sunny weather, the carnival on the quad, and getting as turnt as physically possible, students on Saturday evening made their way to Hutchinson Courtyard for the annual Summer Breeze concert put on by the Major Activities Board (MAB). This year featured French wunderkind Madeon, T-Pain (“You know meeeeee!”), and rapper Azealia Banks in one of the most highly anticipated Summer Breeze lineups in recent memory.
The concert kicked off with Madeon—the stage name of DJ Hugo Pierre Leclercq—who at only 20 years old has already risen to become one of the biggest producers in music today. Madeon worked the crowd well, and the people who came early for him were very engaged. However, since most people were still filing in at that point, he did feel like an opener for better things to come: Most people were there for T-Pain and/or Banks.
Next up was T-Pain, who, judging by the rowdiness of the attendees before his set, was the performer most people were there to see. Although he stepped onto stage sans furry top hat or sunglasses, he was still greeted by an almost deafening reception from the eager crowd. The next hour was what felt like a greatest-hits list of rap and R&B from my formative pubescent years.
I hadn’t realized how omnipresent T-Pain was as a featured artist before attending the concert. He performed a wide variety of his collaborations from the past decade, including “Low” with Flo Rida, “Kiss Kiss” with Chris Brown, and “All I Do is Win” with DJ Khaled along with some material from his new album—impressively without his characteristic auto-tune—and a few covers. By far the biggest crowd-pleaser of the evening was his verse from “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island. T-Pain introduced the song by pretending to wind up one of his backup singers like a toy and then pulling his arm like an imaginary tugboat whistle. Was it a bit overly theatrical? Maybe. Did it work? Undoubtedly. It was pure madness as Hutchinson Courtyard was filled with people, screaming the lyrics so loudly and enthusiastically they didn’t realize that T-Pain was singing the final verse of the song, while they had started at the beginning.
Unfortunately, since most of his hits came as a featured artist, that was a theme throughout the night. T-Pain was only able to sing his verses from each song, and before the crowd could latch on to anything, T-Pain was on to the next track. While the set list flowed smoothly, the constant song changes were somewhat disorienting. Even his biggest solo hit “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” was cut short and gone far too soon.
As T-Pain left the stage, a large portion of the crowd went with him. While the crowd for T-Pain had been overwhelmingly packed and swelteringly hot, there was an easing of tensions in time for Banks’s appearance. People could dance! People could escape being hit by the bodies of grinding couples! Even the slightest reduction in crowd made Banks’s performance all the more intimate and enjoyable. Banks came onto the stage wearing a sequined, mesh shirt emblazoned with her initials in large, blue letters and daisy dukes under an open peplum. Overall, I’d give it a UChicago B+ and the evening’s Best Dressed Award.
Unlike T-Pain, Banks is relatively new to the music scene: All of her material came from either her recent album Broke With Expensive Taste or her 2012 mixtape Fantasea. Regardless, she managed to infuse her set with an undeniable energy that came to a climax with her closing number, “212.” Both her most popular song and the song that launched her career, “212” was an appropriately explosive end to the evening. The crowd managed to muster just enough energy to sing along and jump collectively as Banks commanded the stage. Despite having only two backup dancers, Banks and her crew performed intricate and fast-paced choreography throughout the performance, and this was on full display for the closing number as well. All in all, “212” was the highlight of the entire evening, although “I’m On A Boat” certainly takes a close second.
The only disappointment for Banks’s set was the lack of an encore. Banks even seemed to have a song saved for the occasion—“Chasing Time” was the only major song of hers that was absent during the concert—but after four hours of dancing in the heat and braving the crowds in Hutch, people were ready to leave. Try as a few individuals might, the cries of “one more song” never caught hold, and people quickly moved their drunk reveries from the concert to other locales. But as they stumbled away from the concert they used what little coherence they had left to gush about the show.