Hello again Interwebs, I’m here again with a recap of some great live performances that I was lucky enough to see throughout the month of April.
The XX – Lincoln Theatre
April 2nd, 2014 – Raleigh, NC
First, I’ll start with the first and most packed show I’ve seen in a while, The XX at Lincoln Theatre on April 2nd. My buddy Danimal the Maninal managed to reserve some tickets at the door for myself and several others. The line to get inside the venue wrapped around the entire block, but that did not stop me from getting inside to enjoy the show.
After the opening act finished his set, Jamie XX played several of his tracks from back-stage. I was overjoyed when I heard that he would be playing at Hopscotch, possibly at the CAM Raleigh!
I digress, the XX came out to a diverse, packed venue. The started with one of their biggest hits, “Crystalised.” One of my personal favorite tracks, and the video is pretty entertaining as well:
Jamie XX had a very interesting setup, as his drums were played at eye level over his synths, drum machine, and other electronic devices. Seeing him run around on stage like a man-possessed was very inspiring, as he was working really hard to produce his sound perfectly. They closed out their performance with an encore set where they performed “Angels.” Other than the intensely drunk people next to me that dropped several bottles on the ground and spilled beer everywhere, it was a great way to start off the month of April.
Gramatik – Lincoln Theatre
April 5th, 2014
The opener, Russ Liquid, had an unique sound. Not only that, he busted out a trumpet for several of his songs, which caught me by surprise. I was front row, and he pulls out his trumpet and starts blasting away along to his beats. Not to be outdone, the next performer was Branx and Gibbz, a producer / singer duo. Branx mixed most of the music / beats, while Gibbz provided some soulful, white-guy vocals. I had serious doubts that Gibbz’s voice would carry over to a live performance. Musically, I love to be proven wrong, and that I was; Branx and Gibbz livened up the crowd for the main act, Gramatik.
I had first seen Gramatik at Bass Lights 2012 in Hampton, VA. Since that time, he has really grown as an artist, and his collaborations with other artists are FIRE. One of my personal favorites is this one he did with Griz under the collaborative name, Grizmatik:
I had a great spot for the show up in the balcony area. The sound was a little off up there, but I was away from the ocean of ravey twenty-somethings raging at the bottom. Glowstick bombs were abound, and the crowd really enjoyed the funky, soulful vibe of the entire show. 10/10, would do that again. I wish I could have seen the Griz, Gramatik, Big Gigantic collaborative set at Electric Forest in 2013. Big Grizmatik is definitely on my artist bucket list!
Danny Brown – Cat’s Cradle
April 12th, 2014
I sold my ticket to this show, as I was worn the hell out from going to shows every weekend, plus I’ve seen the bruh bruh live three separate times, once at Bonnaroo 2012, Hopscotch 2012, and at Greene Street in Greensboro, NC sometime May 2013. Regardless, he is a very good live performer, and he even quit drinking lean, primarily because it was making him fat…
Here is one of my favorite Danny Brown tracks, “25 Bucks” featuring Purity Ring:
CounterPoint Music Festival – Kingston Downs, GA
Thursday-Friday – April 24th-25th, 2014
We left Raleigh around 6PM on Thursday. However, we didn’t get into Kingston Downs until 7AM on Friday. The magic school bus had a governor on it, but the ride was pretty fun, because I knew, at some point this weekend, I would be witnessing one of the greatest live performances of my life, OutKast’s glorious return to Georgia!
First up was Moon Taxi. They played a RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE cover!! Encore perfection.
I spent most of Schoolboy Q staring into the sun because I forgot my sun hat. Damn it.
Big Gigantic was saxy as f*ck.
Matt & Kim put on a great show. I can’t understand how she keeps her balance standing on that drum
Mat Zo is an artist I have wanted to see perform live since I first heard one of his first collaborative tracks with Arty, “Mozart”:
I had my doubts about Papadosio, but to my surprise, they impressed me with a very dynamic live performance. I love when a group of people can groove with a bunch of synths, guitars, and a set of drums.
Pretty Lights had a live band with him, much like his performance at Mountain Oasis, but he didn’t jam as long.
I just wanted to also note that Mountain Oasis is currently paused because “the success necessary to sustain the venture has eluded [them.]” (See here)
On to better news, Krewella showed up with the sister duo Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf, without their producer Rain Man. Surprisingly enough, both of the girls traded off singing vocals during their set!
Saturday – April 26th, 2014
We reluctantly wanted up to the Steeple Stage to see the so-called “DJ Contest Winner,” Midnite Panda. The guy had two hype men and even threw $1000 to the crowd at one point. His set was one of the hypest of the entire festival. He specialized in trap / hip-hop, which was right up my alley at that point in the day. Check out his ReverbNation page here.
Shreddie Mercury had a tiny crowd, but it made the performance that much more intimate. Felt like this set was played for me and some of my closest friends. (MAYBE IT WAS)
I last saw St. Lucia at Southland Ballroom in early 2013
Rubblebucket was just as weird as they were at Bonnaroo 2012. No robots in the crowd this time though – 😦
Lance Herbstrong … THE DRUMMER PLAYED A FREAKIN’ DIDGERIDOO, ‘NUFF SAID.
I saw the Floozies in November with Griz, MUCH bigger crowd at CounterPoint. Griz even came on stage at one point!
Janelle Monae! Words cannot even describe how good this show was! She crowd surfed, had a pillow fight on stage with her KICK ASS band, and ran down the middle of the crowd holding some group’s totem. I would see her again in a HEART BEAT!
I saw A-Trak at Bonnaroo 2013, and the “Fooooools Gooooold” shout-out never gets old, it always makes me chuckle. He can still scratch with the best of them! Check out one of his best tracks for “Tuna Melt” which features a house-wide Rube Goldberg machine:
Fayetteville native, J. Cole, put on a great performance, even rapping over OutKast’s “Da Art of Storytelling” beat. He had a great segment of the show where he singled out members of his band, and they played their own solos. Glad to seem he is surrounding himself with great musicians, it makes me really hopeful that he will keep putting out musical perfection.
XXYYXX weirded out my friends, I liked it though.
STS9, aka Sound Tribe Sector 9, was without their long-time bassist David Murphy. Many people were glad that he had left the band, since he had really mellowed out their sound.
Griz is a sax-murderer.
Wolfgang Gartner was great at Roo 2013 and even better this time.
Above & Beyond performed such an emotionally powerful show, I saw several people weeping during their set.
Sunday – April 27th, 2014
Chrome Sparks! The early day shows at The Underground were sparsely populated, as the raged-out young’ns were still passed out, which was good for us. I was on the front row for this performance, and they played EVERY song that I had wanted to hear! They even released new EP the day after this performance! Here’s one of my favorite tracks from the 6-track EP:
Yacht was strange.
Real Magic did not translate well to a live audience, especially in the middle of the day at the Underground. I feel like his set would be much better suited for an indoor venue, much like when I saw him perform at Lincoln Theatre with Odesza and Emancipator.
We went to see The Revivalists primarily to get a good spot for Run The Jewels.
El-P and Killer Mike performed a few tracks with their DJ, Trackstar, but unfortunately, their set was cut short when a thunderstorm rolled through the area. We had an hour before the system hit our area, and it boasted high speed winds and potential for tornadoes. I saw a lot of wide-eyed people who though they were being tricked, but I could see the levity of the situation. We reluctantly returned to the Magic Schoolbus, and hunkered down inside it. A little under 2 hours and a nap later, the storm had rolled over the area, and left a mud pit in it’s wake. We emerged from our metal fortress after recharging our mental and physical batteries for the night that lay ahead. We had initially thought that all the sets had been cancelled up until that time, which was ~7:00 PM.
We got back into the festival, and were running in the direction of the Hillside Stage, where Phantogram was to be performing at that time. We ran past the Steeple Stage, and I noticed a schedule on the screen. I called the group to stop, and we found out that most of the performances (sans Riff Raff) were pushed back two hours! HOPE WAS NOT LOST.
We carried our Hurricanes flag proudly over the crest of the hill to see Thievery Corporation performing on the Blu Freedom Stage. We gladly stepped up to get a good spot for Phantogram, who was playing next at the Hillside Stage. We were front row! SYNTHS ABOUND! MUDDY BEACH BALLS WERE EVERYWHERE!
Watch the Duck… I ate some dank teriyaki chicken during this interesting set. There was a guy in a duck costume, along with a guy on a keyboard / moog, a hype man who would periodically sing. There was one added bonus, an artist painting something (maybe a portrait of the duck?)
Flosstradamus coordinated the BIGGEST glow stick bomb I’ve ever witnessed.
Unfortunately, we only saw Thundercat perform one song, and watch Sleigh Bells from afar as we HAD to get a good spot for OutKast…
The reunion of Andre 3000 and Big Boi was the primary reason I went to CounterPoint, all of the other artists I loved were just an added bonus. I’ve wanted to see OutKast perform since I first heard their music on MTV several years ago (when MTV still played music). The few times I was able to see “Ms. Jackson” on TV gave me a slight glimpse into the world of these two talented Atlanta rappers.
It wasn’t until high school when I really started to appreciate OutKast’s lyrical prowess and clever hooks.
Dre Three Stacks and Sir Lucious Leftfoot began their set with one of their most well-known hits, “B.O.B.” Rap-alongs ensued throughout the entire performance, as they blended “ATLiens,” “Skew It on the Bar-B,” and “Rosa Parks” into one cohesive song. The spoke gibberish at one point during their performance. Seeing Andre 3000 genuinely happy filled me with joy, as I was hoping his first performance at Coachella hadn’t reaffirmed his alleged stage-fright.
They ended the night with an AMAZING performance of “The Whole World” and Killer Mike even joined them on stage. All of the trouble and anxiety that Andre 3000 seemed to have at his Coachella sets was non-existent in his home-state of Georgia. He looked a lot more comfortable playing in-front of many fellow Atlantans.
If you do not have a ticket to see OutKast this year, you seriously need to reassess your spending habits to make it possible for yourself. Unless you do not like OutKast, and if that’s the case, we can’t be friends (kidding!… or am I?).
Here is “Player’s Ball,” one of OutKast’s first hits, and DAMN they look so young:
And here’s an extra, “Int’l Players Anthem”:
Keep your heart Three Stacks. RIP Pimp C.
Chvrches – The Ritz
April 29th, 2014
I could have done without The Range opening up for Chvrches, glitchy, hipster techno is not exactly what I needed after a 3-day festival. Regardless, suffering through his set and the Ritz’s inability to take debit or credit cards was well worth it, as Chvrches came on and played almost their entire catalog of music. The even came out for an encore where the performed two tracks from their EP, “ZVVL” which featured vocals from one of the band members, Martin Doherty, and one of their best songs, “Now Is Not the Time”: