by Sean Maloney
And while I might be bummed out not Friday was nothing but sunshine and badass tunes. I kicked off my music listening day in pretty much the best way you can: right up front for Afrocubism. There are sublime frequencies that manifest when you combine badass Cuban musicians with badass African musicians and let 'em roast in the middle of Tennessee on a Friday afternoon. So many guitars! So much percussion! Mix in the first post-work beer of the day — they taste so much better when there's no guilt in the can — and you've got yourself a perfect festival set.
I ran into the kids from American Songwriter and they convinced me to go see Little Dragon — and shit damn am I glad they did. The LD nail the early '80s club-music sound perfectly with a deep funky blend of synths and grooves. I'm gonna call it and say they'll be doing a killer late-night set in a couple of years. Speaking of late-night sets, did anyone catch Mimosa's on Friday? I missed it, but I ran into Dee Goodz at LD and guess what he told me? Bro played Mimosa. That's badass, I wish I had known. Or remembered. Sometimes it's tough to keep track what you've forgotten and what you never knew. Such is the nature of the beast.
Ludacris destroyed This Tent. Plain and simple de-motherfucking-stroyed. Which I called from the get-go — with the exception of Jay-Z no one in hip can work a crowd like Ludacris. With a live band and a crowd that knew every word to every song — remember, Chris' got hits for days — and predilection for all things dirty and Southern, it was inevitable that it would turn into the biggest party of the afternoon. And it did. And it was great. Which again, I called from the get-go. Step off, doubters and get hip to that Luda shit. Luda finished up just in time for me to catch the tail end of Rodrigo y Gabriela, which was pretty dope — I basically caught a piano solo and a Metallica cover.
I skipped Radiohead — I saw them in '01 and had my very first panic attack, so I wasn't about to repeat that experience. Plus they haven't put out a decent record in 15 years. Ya, I said it, Radiohead are dumb. I did, however, see PUJOL, who were as awesome as ever, and Rubblebucket, for the second time this weekend. Not too shabby.
From there I pre-gamed my way over to Black Star, which I was told started late but it hadn't been hours since I had a working clock, so they were right on time as far as I was concerned. I mean seriously, I'd been waiting 10-plus years for this show: 20 more minutes wasn't gonna hurt. By the time Mos Def and Talib Kewli were in full swing, it was hip hop heaven on a huge fucking sound system. They plowed through their nearly perfect collab album sprinkling solo hits and shouts throughout the set to a crowd of ecstatic backpackers. It was beautiful, it was fun, and it's gonna mean some bragging rights when my grandkids' grandkids discover my copy of Black Star on cassette.
From there it went way out into outer space as we camped out for good spots during LA electronic producer Flying Lotus. FlyLo — as the kids call him — isn't really that much of a DJ and a whole bunch of the mixes were super-janky. But once he finally found his zone, he dropped some serious knowledge. He went deep on some 303-fueled trap-step, dropped huge dubstep for the kiddos, mixed in a little Jackson 5, Lil Wayne and pretty much just said, “Look at how many fucks I give!” Yes, on the technical end it was a mess, but that dude has such an ear for incredible tones that it was blast from the word go. The crowd devoured it, FlyLo was having a blast. You almost couldn't top it.
Except maybe with Big Freedia. The New Orleans based bounce-champ left a smoldering crater where The Other Tent used to be, inciting the sort of ecstatic, overwhelming, apeshit audience reaction the way that only Crescent City musicians can. Let's just say that if anybody was in that tent during “Ass Everywhere,” they'll never be able to run for public office. Shit got twisted in the most perfect way you could hope for, massive drum tones and fierce rap-alongs instigating the sort of unseemly behavior and unruly hijinx that make this festival so much fun right before the sun comes up.