We sent music staffer, writer and entrepreneur Andy Tabeling (pictured above) to Kingston Downs, Georgia for Counterpoint! Here’s some of his favorite sets from that weekend.
Janelle Monáe appeared on stage to introduce Deep Cotton, who are known mostly for their collaborations with her. Although Monae’s house band and Deep Cotton share members, they quickly established and separated themselves as unique and energetic performers. Their opening track “We’re Far Enough from Heaven Now We Can Freak Out” doesn’t sound extremely out of place among the rest of the Wondaland Arts Society’s output, yet there was a more pointed rock energy to the band’s set. Their set was heavy on covers as well, highlighted by a faithful yet highly enjoyable cover of the Stones’ “Satisfaction”.
I often approach live hip-hop with a large degree of skepticism, but luckily Schoolboy Q’s Friday evening performance engaged me consistently and was an absolute blast for Q’s hardcore fans. Riding in on a bicycle and backed by a TDE DJ (I must admit I got very tired of airhorn samples and “Top Dawg Entertainment” voiceover bits), Q treated his audience to a set that heavily favored his most recent release Oxymoron. Much of what made this performance so entertaining is that Schoolboy Q has a distinct personality and was eager to interact with fans. Q bantered with the crowd throughout his set, explaining origins of songs, inviting his large number of eager followers to rap along with him and generally feeding off the everyone’s energy. It was actually supposed to be Schoolboy Q’s off day during the festival, but he wanted to come and give the crowd his best. The set highlight was closer “Man of the Year” (the song everyone knew he would close with), which sent the large crowd into a frenzy of joyful shouts and groovy dancing.
After getting a sampling of the headlining Pretty Lights performance, I went over and experienced what might have been my favorite electronic set of the weekend. Swedish DJ Jonas Rathsman didn’t say a word during his late night performance, but what he lacked in distinct personality, he made up for in establishing a fantastic environment to dance to and forget about the world. Although I wasn’t familiar with his material before heading to the fest, I quickly became lost in his repetitive grooves, sparse vocal samples and incredible transitions. Rathsman also understood how to read the rise and fall of the crowd’s energy perfectly. After a more relaxed and spaced-out track, he would build and build until he once again sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Janelle Monáe’s performance was absolutely the most fun I had all weekend. Her live band was dressed in all black and white, while the Arch Android herself came in on a stretcher. What followed was a joyful, inspiring and fun set of her most engaging work. The Electric Lady, Monáe’s critically acclaimed 2013 release was well represented, with album highlights “Q.U.E.E.N” and “Dance Apocalyptic” both sending the entire crowd at the Freedom Stage into an all-out boogie. Janelle was frequently running around stage, on speakers and into the crowd, working hard for her audience’s love. I was disappointed there was no Big Boi appearance for her performance of “Tightrope”, as OutKast was performing the next day and I would have loved to have heard “Wondaland”, but the fact that the set concluded with a giant pillow fight between the band members made the set hard to criticize.
Some might think that Marcel Everett’s bedroom project xxyyxx might be unfit for a live setting, but his set on Saturday night at the underground stage was a wonderful, engaging performance filled with some of the weirdest tunes I heard all weekend. His set was unlike many of the other laptop-based performances I saw over the weekend. Everett’s music is a lot stranger than a lot of the DJs and producers that performed at the festival, but that didn’t mean xxyyxx wasn’t engaging or interesting to listen to, just more subdued, introspective and cerebral. Luckily, the audience was interested in hearing his fantastic set and he held the crowd’s attention for his hour-long performance. Everett also took the time to honor DJ Rashad, who Everett had learned passed during the set.
by: Andy Tabeling
Editor’s Note: Andy Tabeling unfortunately became very ill and was not able to attend the third and final day of Counterpoint. Of course, that means Andy had to miss perhaps the biggest performance of the weekend – Outkast. Thankfully WUOG writer (and recent winner of best music staffer!) Trevor Adams stepped in to provide a brief recap of Outkast’s Sunday night performance.
After a day of thunderstorms, cancelled sets, and delays, the idea of OutKast performing in Georgia for the first time in nearly a decade seemed like a myth. However, when the show finally got started an hour after its scheduled time, the reality of the situation quickly became obvious: ‘Kast was back and they were ready to perform one hell of a show. Everything kicked off with bright strobe lights and “Gasoline Dreams.” Big Boi was wearing the camo military uniform of Stankonia and Andre was dressed like the special forces team, wearing a white wig and a black jumpsuit with an X on the chest. They continued to play songs from all of their albums (thankfully excluding Idlewild), and were backed by a small entourage of horns and backup singers. Janelle Monae had an appearance as she danced onstage during “Hey Ya!”, and Killer Mike took the stage to deliver his bombshell of a verse from “The Whole World”. Longtime OutKast affiliate Sleepy Brown also performed in many songs, appropriately wearing a pair of silky pajamas while doing so. The crowd was exhausted, as was I, but the energy from the stage was enough to keep everyone wanting more at 1 AM, when the show ended with a firework-backed finale. It was an awe-inspiring performance that proved that despite not releasing any new material in several years, OutKast is forever. Especially in the South.
by: Trevor Adams