Counterpoint returned for its second year in the heart of Georgia, with a new location and a whole new set up. Placed in Kingston Downs, GA, this bombshell festival was ready for success with an absolutely killer lineup that featured Outkast playing on the 20th anniversary of their first album. Combined with mostly beautiful weather over the three days, this sophomore year of Counterpoint was truly magical.
While it just wouldn't be Counterpoint without at least one downpour, this year's storm only wiped a couple key names off the lineup on the last day, rather than a whole afternoon. While it was regrettable that Minnesota had to have his set cancelled, the rain served to bond camps and people together.
The first day of music, Friday, was interesting in that it featured artists from several disparate genres until electric music took over the night. Awesomely, Break Science had a surprise set thrown in that definitely started the day off right. Down-tempo electronic act Moon Taxi were followed by the up and coming rapper Schoolboy Q. Schoolboy Q got the crowd involved in the performance and boosted the energy of the show. Wick-it The Instigator played shortly thereafter and proceeded to provide his unique blend of genre-fusing mashups that gave the crowd nostalgia coupled with awesome bass. While thee end of Wick-it overlapped with the beginning of Big Gigantic, it was still worth it to see the end of Wick-it's set. Big Gigantic performed just as the sun was beginning to set and took the party to the next level. With a wild set that included tracks from their most recent album The Night is Young, Big G also mixed in some of their classics like their I Need A Dollar remix. They also seemingly experimented with a couple higher bpm songs which was a nice change of pace. This fusion of past and present was an amazing way to begin an insane night. Papadosio was a nice change of pace after Big G, bringing the crowd back to a downtempo, chill vibe that seemingly induced a trance among those who attended.
Without a doubt the highlight of night was Pretty Lights and his live band. I think that part of the reason why this show stood out in my mind was how organic the performance was. Part of this feeling can be attributable to the fact that Derek has been performing on and off with this live band for the past year or so, which has allowed them to experiment with different sounds in different songs. To be honest, this experimentation was seemingly most notable in the addition of the horns section during the instrumental break of I Know The Truth. The light show was of course amazing as well, with the lasers being able to be seen from all the other stages. It pleases me to say that this was one of the most intensely magical performances by Pretty Lights I had seen yet.
To end the night, Boys Noize and Krewella closed out with late sets. While both sets were awesome in their own way, the only consideration was who you would rather see. Luckily, I caught both and the performances were excellent. However, because these two stages were relatively close to one another, there was a significant amount of noise pollution if you were in between the two stages.
After getting all the nerves out on the first day, people were ready to get down and have a good time on Saturday with another awesome schedule of artists to facilitate. The first set I saw was St Lucia, on a dear friends recommendation. They were more Alternative rock than anything else but the airy vocals and soul-rendering rhythms made them interesting at the very least. After that, Lance Herbstrong threw down some awesome tracks, with his remix of Pretty Light's Finally Moving featuring Jimi Hendrix being a real treat to experience in a festival setting. The Floozies were definitely a stand-out set for me. If not because of their bringing GRiZ out on stage for some awesome saxy times, but because of the encouragement of a so called Counterpoint Gauntlet, where fans battled with Styrofoam swords on the filed of funky honor. Afterwards, I attended half of the ThriftWorks set before riding over to A-Trak. This was the turning point in the day and really got the crowd involved and bumping, as A-Trak threw down with some bumping tracks, spliced with awesome DJing skills and sratching of the discs.
As a big fan of Sound Tribe Sector Nine, I was overwhelmingly excited to see them perform with their new basest Alana Rocklin. For those of the readers who don't follow the jame scene, Rocklin replaced longtime bassist David Murphy after his separation from the group some time ago. The set was incredible, starting with A Family Affair followed by a crowd favorite When the Dust Settles. Part of the reason why I loved this performance so much was their recently released new tracks .It was very exciting to see that one of my favorite groups were beginning to move in a positive direction with the track New Dawn, New Day being beautifully performed. Unfortunately the Tribe did not end the set with Circus as I was expecting but it was still a phenomenal experience. It was Griz though who stole the show for the night time sets, with throwbacks of “We Want The Funk” that united the whole crowd in nostalgic euphoria. With his own style, he has created a movement of wild fans and they were most certainly present at his unreal performance Saturday night. GRiZ blew away the crowd as he stood on top of his equipment belting out amazing rifts on his saxophone that fulfilled the funky dreams of quite a few Atlantans. Notably, GRiZ dropped his recent track featuring a sample of Jay Z's Public Service Announcement which was fused with awesome sax lines that really accentuated the groove and vibe of the crowd.
Although I did not get to attend The Polish Ambassador's set, a colleague of mine had several things to say about the performance. “The Polish Ambassador's set began with a soulful flute track before busting down into some serious lyricism and some low frequency bass that resists description. Coupled with the funky sounds and amazing light show, TPA is certainly an act I shall not miss again”.
Afterwards things calmed down a little bit with Foster the People on the main stage and the night finally ended with an extraordinary performance by Shpongle. Coming straight outta the UK, Shpongle aka Simon Posford performs a set like no one else, it captures your imagination and energy, swallows you up and spits you out as a new person. The performance was accentuated with Spanish sounding guitar riffs that were soulful and almost foreign but only accentuated the journey the music was leading you on. The psychedelic music project is something that every EDM fan should experience at least once in their life though as it is wholly unique among the scene. Saturday was a great middle day for the festival and served to build the excitement for the finale on Sunday.
Sunday was always going to be an especially magical day, and the people at MCP Presents saved the best for last. With many of the attendees coming exclusively for the Outkast performance, there were more than a few worried glances when the festival was temporarily closed for a passing thunderstorm. Sadly, a couple acts were cancelled, including but not limited to one I was really looking forward to, Minnesota. As you can imagine this gave everyone a big scare, thinking they might not get the chance to see Outkast in all of their glory as they returned home to ATL. Finally the delays were done it was revealed that the majority of the performances were pushed back rather than cancelled. The confusion was not abated as the new schedule was only found by asking ground crew who were not exactly helpful some of the times.
Thievery Corporation got the ball rolling as the music continued, helping to get the soaked festival goers back in the groove of things. While Thievery Corporation was overwhelming the main stage, Cashmere Cat tore up the underground stage with his awesome down-tempo trap style. Major Lazor and Flosstradamus followed just building the excitement for Outkast to perform.
When the time came, almost every person at the festival was in attendance to see Andre 3000 and Big Boi take over and do things in Georgia on stage that had not been done in years. After a horrible rated performance at Coachella music festival they were ready to impress during their homecoming. The performance began with a quite dramatic entrance that teased all the energy the crowd had into the air. From “ATLiens” to “Rosa Parks”, to “Player’s Anthem” to “Crumblin Erb”, Outkast took the high-energy crowd on a journey through some of their most innovative rhymes of all time. Their performance of “Roses” had the entire crowd vocalizing and singing along. For their set, it felt as if the entire festival was all singing and existing in a funky hip-hop harmony that I doubt will ever be reproduced. They finally ended the 90-minute set with “The Whole World” featuring Killer Mike. Outkast was the highlight of the weekend, and if you know of the history the duo had with Atlanta, there was little doubt that it would be amazing. There homecoming was something special and a performance that will not be matched by any.
As a special treat, those with enough energy to still stand after Tycho or Flux Pavillion got to see Michal Menert and GRiZ perform a rare duo set at the Silent Disco. To begin his stage presence, Michal wowed the crowd with a superb lyrical styling seemingly done on the fly. His rhymes and grooves were accentuated by the counterpoint of GRiZ's funky set.