Arts and Entertainment Summer Roundup


Elliott Austin

Southerner staff writers reflect on the art and media they consumed over the summer. Image credits, clockwise: Domino Recording Company (Freakout/Release), FX (The Bear), 20th Century Studios (The Hate U Give), Hodan Ibrahim (KCON), CBS (Criminal Minds)

Summer is a time for students to relax. This often allows students to consume and appreciate art and media more. This article highlights five Southerner writers and an important piece of art/entertainment that they experienced and enjoyed over the summer. 

Album: Freakout/Release by Hot Chip – reviewed by Noelle Hendricks

Hot Chip is an unlikely band to make an album about teenage angst. The British electro-dance group are best known for their off-the-wall club tracks, and the members are all over forty. But their latest offering, August’s Freakout/Release, seems tailor-made for stressed-out high schoolers. Amid funky beats and smooth synths, Freakout/Release delivers an irresistibly catchy encouragement to ask for help and support each other. 

Freakout/Release is clearly an album about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially on social life and mental health. Its lyrics first worry on the song “Broken” that “Your open wounds will not heal without my touch,” before realizing on “Miss the Bliss” that “You can heal if you’re wounded/You can heal anytime.” Despite the relevance of these messages, however, the album’s best quality is that it’s simply fun to listen to. Hot Chip have been mastering their craft since before South students were born, and it shows. The three opening tracks set a funky mood driven by jittery drums and pounding beats, then elegantly give way to warm, layered ballads and lengthy, pulsing songs that make you want to plug in your headphones and dance around the block.

The excitement of the album’s arrangements helps to balance lyrics that often skew towards the melancholy. On “The Evil That Men Do,” the album’s most overtly political track, featured rapper Cadence Weapon lists various ills plaguing society — the “world on fire” and “Electing the ones pandering and meddling,” to name a few — but the rhythmic keyboard keeps the listener’s foot tapping in time. “Broken” finds Hot Chip’s lead vocalist Alexis Taylor wondering “am I just broken?,” over gorgeous, flowing synths. Hot Chip doesn’t languish in their problems; they find beauty in them. And they want their audience to, too. 

Freakout/Release offers an appealing solution to the malaise that the world is suffering from: just help each other out. It sounds simple enough, but amidst the isolation and turmoil of the past few years, it seems as though people have forgotten how to support each other. Through song after song, the album encourages listeners to try to remember. Some of the album’s most poignant lyrics come from “Not Alone.” On the emotional ballad, Taylor sings about “turning [his] life around” with lines like “Anxiety can only kill a man/If he always turns away the helping hand.” At a time when stress is fueled by everything from college applications to midterm elections, it’s a message worth hearing. 

Television series: The Bear – reviewed by Griffin Larson

FX’s The Bear, created by Christopher Storer, is a television series that premiered on June 23, 2022. The show takes place in Chicago and follows the story of Carmy (played by Jeremy Allen White), who is struggling to take over the family sandwich shop after losing his brother to suicide. The cinematography, acting, writing, and directing all come together beautifully throughout eight intense and fast-paced episodes, allowing the audience to glimpse the stressful atmosphere of restaurant kitchens and what it takes to run a struggling small business.

Every morning, the restaurant opens and the stress immediately starts, never letting up for the rest of the day, which is reflected in a rough and dirty cinematic style. This involves many closeup shots, fast and harsh camera cuts, and constant angry shouting and swearing. You can feel the stress in the air, which refuses to go away as more and more orders pile up. It continues to build and build and build, as the characters grow more and more aggravated and exhausted, until finally, the restaurant closes for the day. The next morning, it starts all over again.

While this fast pace is common throughout much of the show, the writers have given us some breaks from the kitchen. The story follows Carmy’s individual journey of understanding and finding closure to his brother’s suicide. Between the stress of the kitchen and the stress of his emotions, he is overwhelmed and struggles to learn how to handle everything going on in his life, which drives a wedge between himself and his family. Over time, however, he slowly starts to open up to support and his relationship with his family improves. Additionally, there are plenty of funny moments and jokes across all episodes, which lightens the mood.

With a 100% approval rating and an audience score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Bear has proven itself to be an expertly crafted and must-see show for anyone who appreciates a combination of great writing and storytelling with intense scenes, while still wanting to find yourself laughing at parts.

Concert: KCON – reviewed by Hodan Ibrahim

At the end of the summer this year, my friends and I went to a concert held at the State Theatre called KCON. KCON is an annual convention of K-pop music held in multiple locations globally where fans meet their favorite artists. This year they decided to go on tour, and Minneapolis was on the roster. This year’s artists were STAYC, CRAVITY, LIGHTSUM, and TO1. They were all 4th gen. rookie groups who were chosen to go on tour this year. When it comes to KPOP generations, the most recent is the 4th gen., who would mostly start in 2017-18, including groups like IZ*ONE, TXT, ITZY, and others. You could usually distinguish their music/gen with their more “poppish” and “hyper” sound, and most of them are young. My friends and I decided to go with the VIP Package as you get a meet and greet session with the artists and special souvenirs. 

I have been a KPOP fan since 2015 as I was introduced to it by my family members with the artists BIGBANG, TWICE, GOT7, and GIRL’S GENERATION. This was the first time I was going to see my favorite groups in concert, CRAVITY, and LIGHTSUM, and I was very excited to meet them. I had already been a fan of some of the members in CRAVITY as they were in a previous temporary group called X1 but disbanded due to controversy happening in 2019. 

They had a very good stage presence and good interactions with the fans. As for the VIP package that we were promised, my expectations weren’t met. The meet and greet session was just walking past the group while they had a screen in front of them where you could barely see them and staff yelling at you to hurry up. Some people had the chance to say hello and see who their favorites were. I, on the other hand, didn’t know which group was which, as they were grouped up so close to each other that they looked like one group. Souvenirs weren’t given out either, which was something I had hoped for since I wanted to hold something up during the concert. I still had a fun time, especially with the live music, and I would do it again, even though the VIP package wasn’t worth it for me.

Movie: The Hate U Give (2018) – reviewed by Ikram Mohamed

“The Hate U Give,” is a 2018 movie, based on the book of the same name by Angie Thomas. The film is directed by George Tillman Jr. and stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russel Hornsby, K.J. Apa, and Common. It follows a young black girl, Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) who sees police brutality, racism, and hatred from the white people in her city. She witnesses her friend, Khalil, who she’s known since birth, get murdered by the police while she is in the car with him. This pushes her to organize protests to get justice for her best friend. The protests ultimately didn’t do any good and ended up causing more chaos in the city. The protests sparked riots, causing a stronger police response and further brutality. Starr Carter and the people she was protesting with ended up getting badly beaten by the police. I really like this movie, it was very inspiring to teenagers and younger kids. It’s a progressive movie with varied emotional themes, and complex characters. 

Sophomore Jasmine Toney, who also watched the movie, said, “It was very inspiring, especially the way Starr reacted towards the white girl, who was very biased against black people.” She enjoyed the movie a lot. “I think it’s a great movie for fellow young people because it shows how black people go about their day without getting murdered. Another reason I think it’s a good movie is because it shows how no matter what citizens do they’ll never receive justice from police brutality.” Another South student who watched the film, Sophomore Nadira Abdirahman said, “I liked the way she hosted multiple protests and the way she handled it was very inspiring. It taught me how it feels to work against injustice.” In response to how they would react if they were an eyewitness to police brutality, she said, “If I was an eyewitness, I would record it and take a picture of the police badge and post it on the internet and expose the cop. I’d fight for Khalil’s justice with Starr by my side! I would also testify against the police if it got brought to court. I would do everything Starr is doing because she is inspiring.” 

Television series: Criminal Minds (2005-2020) – reviewed by Faisa Mohamed

“Criminal Minds,” which ran for 15 seasons and almost 15 years, is a television series about an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze the country’s most twisted criminal minds. The show focuses on the backstory of victims, motives of criminals, and the profiling required to investigate crimes and find the unsub and individual heinous crimes. It also shows the struggle and personal issues that investigators and officers have to go through while solving their case, as well as the emotional damage that they and their  family’s have to go through. Criminal Minds is a show that appeals to a wide range of people, including many students at South. Sophomore Aisha Ahmed said “I really liked the show, it was interesting and showed a lot of deep stuff that I think everyone should know and watch out for.” Aisha also thinks that the show could help her in the outside worlds such as helping you be more aware of your surroundings. It makes you think about crimes that happen in your area and ways to keep yourself safe. Knowing how to protect yourself when you come into dangerous situations and how to avoid them is something that this show can help with. When you hear about people losing their lives it really sticks with you and makes you aware when you find yourself in situations where you have to protect yourself. 

Sophomore Lala Timberlake ”I think it’s an old people show and I watch it with my mom but honestly I think it’s cool.” She also thinks that the show is pretty boring, but the interesting parts are its fast pace, mystery plots and cliffhangers. Lastly, both Aisha and Lala defined what kind of genre of series “Criminal Minds” is. They said, “I think “Criminal Minds” is a true crime series because it’s based on true events or based on things that have happened. It can also be defined as mystery and drama because the audience is left without a lot of details which they discover throughout the episodes, effectively using suspense to keep the audience engaged. This is why I think criminal minds could be defined as true crime, drama and mystery.” I watched Criminal Minds because it drew me in especially the cliffhangers, which made me sit on the edge of my seat while watching.