As a survivor of 2013’s Governor’s Ball (an exercise in tropical storm preparedness), coming back this year was never for certain. When it was announced that OutKast was in, though, I channeled my inner Fry Meme, and yelled SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!
As a headlining act, this June 2014 (as opposed to the less than successful Coachella outing) rendition of Outkast had a set built for giving their history shine.
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Starting off with “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad),” Andre 3000 & Big Boi gave the poppy festival audience an entry point they were undoubtedly going to clap, snap, and chant along with.
Their set, which centered around a giant cube that imagery of their history was presented on, was split into thematic sections.
The cube had water projected onto it, appropriately, during the Aquemini section, which featured such deep cuts as “SpottieOttieDopealiscious,” and at the beginning they projected the “Stankonia” cover/flag to give a sense where they were starting. Also, the cube took on a little of each of their personalities when they each rocked mini solo sets. Big Boi went first, and when they transitioned, it marked one of the rare times when fans yelling “Come Back 3000!” actually worked! And as much as you loved The Love Below, Three Stacks’ solo tracks like “Vibrate,” “She Lives in My Lap,” and
“Prototype” are even better live, given a chance to breathe and stretch.
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Any touring misfires were forgotten or forgiven, though, after the closing one-two combo of perfection of “Int’l Player’s Anthem,” and “The Whole World,” the latter of which allowed fellow Gov. Ball performer Killer Mike, here as a part of Run The Jewels, to show up for his star-making verse, and to send the crowd home.
Speaking of which, Killer Mike & El-P were the first great set of the day, performing their brief but explosive Run The Jewels EP in full. If you get the chance to catch them live, it’s on you to catch one of the best unexpected successes of 2013 (they said it themselves). They keep getting better as their never ending tour continues, and while their high energy styles continue to match, their comradery is growing, making for a hilarious time, rap’s Stepbrothers, if you will, and your festival or venue is the Catalina Wine Mixer they’re here to take over. Opportunities should be aplenty as El-P said RTJ2 is coming soon.
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Festival mainstays like Phoenix and Kurt Vile proved why they are always in demand from festivals. Almost no other popular musicians produce vibes more suited to a sun soaked day off. Unfortunately, this Phoenix set didn’t feature the R. Kelly cameo that Coachella 2013 was #blessed with. Jenny Lewis put in a flawless set, only tainted by the fact that the sun seemed to be closer to the earth for the duration of her set. There’s no real highlight to call out, this is one set to find online in its entirety. Lastly, one of the big highlights of the day was Janelle Monáe, whose festival set (always short on time) takes her fantastic touring set, and just focuses on her amazing big pieces, letting “Electric Lady,” “Q.U.E.E.N,” “Primetime,” and “Tightrope” shine, by allowing them to go much longer than their album versions. Even though Ms. Monáe went on at 3, her set was so amazing and the audience was gushing with enough adulation to make promoters know that she deserved more time and a later start time.
Henry T. Casey is a freelance writer who is starting to wonder which of these is going to be his last festival. He tweets at @henrytcasey
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