Summerset Fest: Day TwoAug 20, 2014
Day Two of Summerset Fest kicked off rather late for Sam and I (also Sam). We wanted to arrive at 5:00 to catch Cults at 5:30, and we snaked our way through an extremely long line on the pretense of being with the media. When we reached the front of the line, the camera that they allowed us in with the day before was turned away, much to our disappointment. After the long walk (well, sort of long--it’s all relative) walk back to the car it was nearly 6:00, and we came to terms with the fact that we weren’t going to see Cults. This was a big disappointment to Sam and if she becomes depressed in the near future I blame it on the guy at the gate whose name I demanded then immediately forgot (I was trying to throw my weight around, but I imagine he’s used to this sort of behavior). We returned just in time to see Schoolboy Q, the man of the year, and also the man who inspired countless sunburned white kids to don their bucket hats and camo shorts.
Unfortunately we were too far away to get any high-quality pictures of Schoolboy Q but his set was half-hearted, mincing verses from his features on other TDE artists, his own stuff from Habits and Contradictions and Oxymoron, but ultimately only getting truly energetic for a few songs, most notably “Man of the Year” and “Hell of a Night.” But he did set the TDE stage for one of the better performances of the entire concert underneath the wooden roof of the festival’s smallest, least popular and probably loudest venue: The Saloon.
If you haven’t heard of Isaiah Rashad, and you actually like rap music, you should go get informed. He is signed to the Top Dawg Entertainment collective, a heavyweight roster that features a lot of rappers of mid-tier popularity in the overall music scene, like Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, but it’s also the home of Grammy-snubbed and universally recognized rapper Kendrick Lamar. They don’t just sign anyone, but what’s odd about Rashad is that he’s not from California, like every other member of the collective. Instead he hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee, a place whose only real hip-hop credibility that it’s located between Memphis (home of Three 6 Mafia, and a slew of other rappers) and Atlanta (do I even need to mention that Atlanta is home to some of the best rap to come out of the South?). But Isaiah Rashad spits. Which, in a way, is what made me realize that Schoolboy Q largely dialed it in. He played a number of songs from his fantastic Cilvia Demo which you can download here, along with a number of newer tracks I’d never heard. People were packed into the Saloon like sardines and Rashad fed off the crowd’s energy and delivered an awesome 30-minute set before the eager crowds piled out of the Saloon and back downhill to the main-stage to catch Wu-Tang’s extremely hyped and extremely crowded set.
That was about the only good picture of Wu-Tang we got. It has almost everyone who showed up in the picture and it involved me lifting Sam up on my shoulders and using a red-bearded, shirtless, and extremely sweaty (let’s face it though, by this point we were all very sweaty) as a crutch to steady the camera. Most of our other pictures look like this:
But I can’t complain. Wu-Tang absolutely killed it, despite the fact that Method Man and Ghostface Killah, probably the two artists I was most excited to see from Wu-Tang didn’t make an appearance. They played all the classics: “Shame On A N****,” “Protect Ya Neck,” “C.R.E.A.M.,” and “Bring Da Ruckus,” all the while inciting the crowd to pour forth more and more energy; at one point RZA said that Canadians partied harder than we did, which made me feel bad for the two gentleman from Thunder Bay that I met for part one of this blog. They were probably looking down kicking the dirt like, “Man, we’re trying…”
What was really strange to me was seeing the crossover between genres. Because, it always seemed to me like the kids who took endorphin and serotonin inducing drugs at festivals because it helped them to “feel the music, man” were just tricking themselves into liking crappy music. But it turns out that a large number of them are fans of musicians who I absolutely love--I think I need to be less judgmental and more open-minded. Although, I really don’t like dubstep and I’m not going to take anything that may make me change my mind.
The most heartwarming moment of their set came when they played a group sing-along of Ol Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy, Ya” and dedicated to both ODB and a young man from Wisconsin who was a big Wu-Tang fan. It’s funny to think that they’re such nice human beings when only minutes before Raekwon said: “I wait for one to act up/ Now I got him backed up/ Gun to his neck now, react what/ And that’s one in the chamber/ Wu-Tang banger, 36 styles of danger.”
Wu-Tang was the last set of the concert I saw. And I’m happy that I went out with that set. Who knows if that many of them will ever be on a stage together again. I’m just really happy they settled things with Raekwon and that I got to be somewhat close (albeit sweaty) for their set. We didn’t go to Sunday’s set to see Flying Lotus, which is sad, but after the whole camera thing it was kind of like: that’s going to be a lot of writing (you’ll notice on day one I didn’t really have to write too much, which was nice for me). Tyler, The Creator was also there and I’m sure his set was crazy hyphy and that all the kids who were wearing bucket hats switched to their supremes and traded in their camo shorts for cut off skinny jeans. But I was content.
P.S. here’s a picture of me really sweaty/also about to sneeze to prove I was there:
Written by Sam Howard
Photos by Sam Plasch