Few events at the U of C bring students together quite like Summer Breeze. The concert sponsored by the Major Activities Board (MAB) that caps the annual festival on the quads offers an opportunity, for at least a few hours, to trade the ulcer-inducing artificial light of the A-level for live music and good times in Hutch Courtyard. Despite a hefty price tag (in the ballpark of $100,000), the concert is an enjoyable campus tradition that makes the considerable investment well worth it. And with a slate of diverse musical acts, the event has something for just about everyone.
But not this year. Instead of the usual range of well-known acts from across the musical spectrum, MAB selected Broken Social Scene, Voxtrot, and Santigold. That sounds like a nice lineup for a 10:30 show at the Metro, but lacks the broad appeal necessary for the College’s signature entertainment event of the year.
In an e-mail interview, fourth-year and MAB chair Soraya Lambotte explained that the Board does make a conscious effort to find diverse musical acts—it just didn’t work out this year. MAB is handicapped in part by the difficulties of the bidding process for popular bands, especially hip-hop acts, and in part by the small size of the student body, since funding for the event comes from the Student Activities Fee.
Fair enough. MAB’s task is undoubtedly a challenging one, and there’s no doubt that the Board put considerable time and effort into selecting the artists. At the same time, it’s difficult to conclude anything other than that MAB dropped the ball this year. The relatively modest budget and the difficulties involved in bidding for bands haven’t stopped MAB from booking The Roots four times in the last 13 years, or landing a crowd-pleaser like Cake last year. The fundamental goal in choosing a lineup should be to appeal to a broad cross section of students. By that standard, this year’s roster of acts is a disappointment.
The show will go on. Tsunami-like conditions couldn’t dampen the success of last spring’s show, and the 2007 show went off without a hitch despite the conspicuous absence of The Roots’ emcee and Spoon’s charisma. But given MAB’s generous allotment of the Student Activities Fee and the scope of the event they’re responsible for planning, the Board must make it a higher priority to book a more diverse lineup in future years.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and two additional Editorial Board members.