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May 19, 2016

Summer Breeze Was Frozen, Let it Go

Students attend a Jeremih performance at Summer Breeze 2016.

Students attend a Jeremih performance at Summer Breeze 2016.

Miriam Benjamin / The Chicago Maroon

In recent years, Major Activities Board (MAB) has moved Summer Breeze away from being a showcase for its tastemaking skills and toward being a show that most students can turn up to. This is a wonderful development, since: a) nobody except MAB cares about MAB’s highfalutin music taste, b) MAB has other opportunities to show off (i.e., their Winter Showcase), and c) the more people there that are having a good time, the better the time is.

On Sunday, most of the people I talked to didn’t have a strong recollection of really anything that had happened to them at Summer Breeze, which I thought meant the show was a success. So if the purpose of Summer Breeze is to have a good time—the quality of the performance being a secondary concern—I’m not convinced a traditional review is the best plan of attack. In lieu of a formal review, I will offer numbered thoughts.

10. Yes, it was cold. Suck it up, motherfuckers. Presumably every single person at Summer Breeze had lived in Chicago for at least eight months prior to last Saturday, point being that everyone had experienced colder weather. Was the cold weather a deterrent to having fun? Tell that to the guy who, at 3 p.m., was walking in figure eights and stopping at every block to puke. Nobody ever said having fun would be easy. You’ve got to want it.

9. MAB’s DJs were the unsung heroes of Summer Breeze. I still remember one of the cameramen at last year’s Summer Breeze getting ridiculously stoked when Drake’s “Know Yourself” started blasting. This year, I was not hyped—I repeat, not hyped—until some bright light played Chance the Rapper’s “No Problems,” a cut from his third mixtape. Seeing a couple hundred students sing along to a track that had only been released the day before was a bonding moment—it brought together people previously only connected through proximity, or maybe a shared desire to get fucked up. Those five minutes and five seconds turned Summer Breeze into a communal and particular UChicago experience, rather than a show that happened to be in Hutch Courtyard.

8. Another DJ played Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” which was fun. Where else can you scream, “Now if I fuck this model/ and she just bleached her asshole/ and I get bleach on my T-shirt/ I’m a feel like an asshole” in public?

7. I didn’t come in time to see TOKiMONSTA, and I suspect I would’ve hit my EDM capacity had I seen both her and SOPHIE. As it was, SOPHIE’s brisk 30-minute set was the perfect amount of electronic music. Although his set never felt monotonous, it did lag in a few places; however, this is characteristic of most EDM sets, as you can’t have a really high high without some filler. SOPHIE’s sweet melodies and trademark sped-up vocals combined with killer basslines to make interesting, cathartic dance breaks.

6. Joey Bada$$ is a highly decent rapper whose performance could’ve been elevated with a little more audience support. Yes, it was cold. God help me, I know it was cold. But Joey deserves more than limp hand-waving, a few “Beast Coooasts,” and polite applause. MAB brought in a rapper who has a song with Kendrick Lamar, makes socially-conscious but bravado-oozing classic East Coast rap, and, along with his DJ, was trying admirably hard to get the audience going. The music was there, the intention was there, and so if the performance wasn’t—that one’s on you, student body.

5. MAB clearly learned a sequencing lesson from last year: at Summer Breeze 2015, T-Pain performed first, put on a phenomenal show, and then Azealia Banks came out and everybody left. This year, MAB put the hipster rapper (Joey Bada$$) before the wildly popular mainstream act (Jeremih), and managed to retain their audience until the end, or at least until “Birthday Sex.”

4. Speaking of “Birthday Sex,” Jeremih’s most famous song wasn’t even the highlight of the show, although it was the most notable spectacle. “Birthday Sex” started off with Jeremih tenderly stroking the keyboard for a few bars, and ended up with a UChicago student onstage grinding on Jeremih. It’s a testament to the versatility of the song—and Jeremih’s angelic crooning—that “Birthday Sex” works as both a blissful lullaby and as a danceable number.

3. The second best moment was when Jeremih brought out beloved drill rapper and fellow South Sider Lil Durk, and the two performed the 2015 Durk cut “Like Me.” Bringing a special guest out for a college music festival is going above and beyond the call of duty. If this was an apology for unceremoniously cancelling his Summer Breeze appearance in 2014, Jeremih can consider himself absolved.

2. The actual best moment was “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” a Late Night cut with rapper YG; more specifically, it was the line “Girl you know I’m from Chica-GO.” “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” Jeremih, Durk, “No Problems”—these were all timely reminders of Chicago’s long and continued history of musical talent, and how lucky UChicago students are to experience the city’s arts culture firsthand.

1. Finally, just to reiterate: if Jeremih can party in Vegas the night before Summer Breeze, fly cross-country, and blow through a bang-up performance at Summer Breeze, bitching about the weather seems unreasonable. Look to Jeremih’s example. Be more like Jeremih.

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