MAB books diverse Summer Breeze acts

By Alison Sider

The Major Activities Board’s (MAB) annual Summer Breeze music festival will feature four musical acts this year. Cake, Talib Kweli, Andrew Bird, and The Cool Kids will all perform in the May 17 concert in Hutch courtyard.

This is the first year that Summer Breeze has expanded beyond the traditional two- or three-act lineup. Fourth-year Justin Fleming, MAB chairman, said that an increase in funding and the success of previous MAB events enabled the Board to offer four acts this year. Sold-out fall and winter MAB shows provided extra revenue for more acts, he said.

MAB focused on diversifying the acts for this year’s Summer Breeze in order to appeal to a variety of tastes and attract students who have not attended a MAB show this year.

“We realized we did not have a hip-hop act for our fall or winter show, so we focused on adding a hip-hop act to the Summer Breeze lineup,” Fleming said.

There will be two hip-hop acts performing in this year’s show. Talib Kweli is a well known and critically acclaimed alternative hip-hop rapper. Hailing from Brooklyn, Kweli first gained recognition through his involvement in Black Star, a group he formed with Mos Def in 1998. Kweli has released five albums as a solo act since 2002. Eardrum, his most recent album, was released in 2007 and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.

The Cool Kids were a recent addition to the Summer Breeze lineup.

“We saw an opportunity where we could add a group that is up-and-coming in the Chicago area,” Fleming said.

A MySpace phenomenon, The Cool Kids are a hip-hop duo from Chicago and Detroit that has already generated significant buzz in the music industry. The group was recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of ten artists to watch in 2008. Their debut album When Fish Ride Bicycles will be released in fall 2008.

A popular indie rock group, Cake was formed in 1991 in Sacramento, and quickly gained a national following. Cake also incorporates a variety of other genres ranging from funk to country. The group has released five studio albums, as well as a compilation album entitled B-Sides and Rarities, which was released October 2007 and features covers of bands like Black Sabbath, as well as Cake’s original songs. Their next album will be released later this year.

Andrew Bird, a Chicago-born songwriter and musician, has released nine albums since his first in 1996 but has seen his popularity grow in recent years. Bird is known for using multiple instruments such as violin, guitar, and whistling in his live performances.

Despite placing bids on big-name female acts such as Feist and Rilo Kiley, MAB was not successful in booking a female act this year, which has been a source of criticism in the past.

“We definitely made a strong effort to have a female act in the lineup, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” Fleming said.

He said he hopes the Board will continue to work on this next year.

In order to accommodate the additional group, this year’s show will begin at 5:15 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., last year’s starting time. Fleming hopes that the additional acts will help create more of a festival atmosphere at Summer Breeze and will “provide a more enjoyable concert experience for everyone.”

In another attempt to enhance the Summer Breeze experience, the concert area will be expanded to include the space around Botany Pond, with an entrance at the 57th Street gate.

Sponsors such as Kraft and Red Bull will provide free food and beverages, which Fleming hopes will help justify ticket prices.

“We can’t change ticket prices, but these things make up for that and give students an incentive to come and stay in the venue area,” Fleming said. Weekend passes to summer music festivals such as Summer Camp and Lollapalooza will also be raffled off.

Tickets for Summer Breeze went on sale Wednesday, April 30 in the Reynolds Club, where they can be purchased on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a University ID. Tickets can be purchased in advance at $15 for students and $20 for faculty and staff, and prices will go up by $5 on the day of the show.