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I Went to Soundset 2017 And It Was Very Good Even Though Travis Scott Only Performed Goosebumps Twice.

May 31, 2017

From its humble beginnings at a warehouse in 2007 to booking some of the biggest stars in the world, Soundset’s tenth anniversary set out to be the ultimate crowd pleaser. Hip hop icons like Gucci Mane and T.I. shared the spotlight with up-and-comers like Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert (sort of, more on that later). Local artists were also a huge focus, with funk group Zuluzuluu celebrating their extraordinary past year on the Saint Paul fairgrounds’ massive stages. DJ’s from the Twin Cities were spinning all morning as the fairgrounds began to fill. DJ Keezy and Sophia Eris both played to a large crowd of eager party-goers, while thestand4rd DJ Tiiiiiiiiiip played four different times throughout the day.  Local staple P.O.S. played back to back with rap legend Doctor Octagon, while a custom car show and skate competition happened a couple hundred feet away. Needless to say, there was alot going on.

G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha T was initially a no-show, with a promising young rapper named Benjamin Oswin spitting impressive verses to a (very) young and antsy crowd. Luckily, E-40 was able to bring in his signature West coast rap to keep the energy up. Pusha T eventually arrived an hour late, but delivered a blazing victory lap through his biggest solo hits (“Numbers On the Board”, “Don’t Like (Remix)”) that proved to be worth the wait. Festival MC Sway In the Morning engaged with the audience in-between sound-checks and wore a really cool hat. 

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Pusha T

After Pusha came some bad news from the press tent: Lil Uzi Vert, one of the more anticipated new acts at the festival, had just cancelled. When it became apparent that the “Bad and Boujee” collaborator would not be showing up, local rapper Mod Sun was tossed on the main stage to perform to a rabid, impatient audience. The smaller Fifth Element stage, however, proved to be less chaotic, and provided some of the best sets of the afternoon, thanks to legends (Pete Rock’s incredible DJ set) and newcomers (Denzel Curry). Playboi Carti, booked days before Soundset as a replacement for Mac Miller, drew a huge crowd to the area with his meme-able verses and undeniable stage presence. T.I. was also a commanding force on the main stage, delivering a precise run-through of megahits like “Whatever You Like” and “Ain’t About the Money.” Atmosphere was up next, and toward the end of his set said that this year’s Soundset would be the last one. That was weird. I don’t know why he said that. 

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Gucci Mane

Gucci Mane, fresh off the release of his new mixtape Droptopwop the day before, performed to a massive crowd, rapping some of his deeper mixtape cuts in celebration of his one-year anniversary of being freed from prison. Ms. Lauryn Hill, an artist notorious for being late to her own shows, performed right on time at dusk. Bringing out a live band, Ms. Hill performed classics from her first (and only) LP The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The younger crowd abandoned Ms. Hill at the main stage to catch Ty Dolla $ign’s rescheduled set across the fairgrounds, but those that stayed were treated to an electric performance that easily stood out as a highlight of the evening. 

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Ms. Lauryn Hill

It started raining when headliner Travis Scott came out. “Looks like a storm came right on f***ing schedule,” Mr. Scott declared. The crowd went wild in response. Too wild. Photographers were barred from taking pictures in the press pit during the set because the EMTs and security were working overtime at the overflowing barricades. One kid vomited abruptly after being crowd surfed to the front, then was promptly escorted to the side.

Anyways, Travis Scott was great. His elaborate and very expensive stage setup included pyrotechnics, lasers, and a gigantic robotic bird, which Scott would occasionally climb on top of for the really big songs. The rain eventually ceased a few songs in, but the energy remained at an all time high, with Scott belting out auto-tuned anthems from his first two albums, Rodeo and Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight, to an ecstatic crowd. Scott’s impressive ability to harmonize over his own vocal tracks and play to the crowd led to a fantastic closing set. It was cool. Kylie Jenner was there.

As the crowds dispersed after Scott’s encore-free performance, the crowd was in noticeably high spirits, with bystanders singing Lauryn Hill and Gucci Mane as they exited. Cheers to Soundset for putting on another awesome year. 2018 will surely be just as great, as long as that thing Atmosphere said wasn’t true. 

 
David Ziemer