Live Review: Soundset 2008
Download: P.O.S - "P.O.S Is Ruining My Life"
Download: Aesop Rock - "Coffee (feat. John Darnielle)"
Download: Atmosphere - "Yesterday"
Download: Mac Lethal - "Pound That Beer"
Download: Blueprint - "Lo-Fi Funk"
Download: Brother Ali - "Take Me Home"
Download: Eyedea and Abilities - "Now"
While I can scarcely type due to painful sunburn on my hands, today I'm bringing you my Soundset '08 report. Obviously, I couldn't catch everything, but I got most of the good stuff.
Musab: While I've never been a huge fan of Musab on CD, I really enjoyed his stage show. The beats sounded great pumping through massive speakers, though I'm still not huge on his lyrics, which often vary between insightful and witty and just kind of silly.
Mac Lethal: How did this guy get on the bill? Yes, Mac, I'm aware that intelligent, educated men such as yourself would like girls like me better if we would just "chug that beer," but beer costs 12 tickets and causes dehydration. Thanks, but no thanks.
Blueprint: The first really standout performance of the day. The most impressive thing about Blueprint has always been his freestyling, though after working with RJD2 on a few albums, he's now got a great thing going on with his records now, too: Blueprint has a polished sense of rhythm and lyrics that express frustration with what has become of mainstream hip-hop without getting too preachy. Inject hot freestyling into that, and you've got the recipe for a powerful performance.
P.O.S.: Local fave P.O.S. is someone who I've always meant to catch, but because he tours so much, I end up putting it off. And now I regret it. Despite hearing mixed reactions to his live show, I'm happy to report that P.O.S.'s punk-inspired brand of rap translates very well to a live setting. A little bit of an awkward performer, P.O.S. differentiates himself from other rock-inspired acts by incorporating more diverse rhythmic elements, which, in the end, helps him avoid sounding like Limp Bizkit.
Eyedea and Abilities: I don't know what was going on, but no matter where we stood, this set sounded awful. It was clearly a sound issue, as my friends who were near the front said they sounded great. What a Pity.
Brother Ali: Do I even need to say that Brother Ali was one of the top acts of the day? While his beats sound just like the album, it's Ali's delivery that makes his show great. With his marvelously expressive voice, Ali brought his gospel of social change home to each and every person in the audience. Clear and strong, Ali radiates calm intensity, making it easy to believe completely in his sincerity.
Aesop Rock: Another performer marred by awful sound. I was really disappointed – Aesop Rock was one of the sets I was most looking forward to. Maybe one of you closer to the stage can weigh in how the set sounded from up there?
Atmosphere: Brought the house down. I'm perpetually surprised at the sense of authority Slug is capable of commanding over a crowd. I'm mean, look at the guy. Could he be any more of a stereotypical weedy white dude? But Slug's deeply introspective lyrics allow each and every member of the audience to put themselves in his shoes. There's something transfixing about the way that he manages to pound the crowd with rhymes that perfectly encapsulate the experience of young people everywhere.
Musically, Ant and the backing band were top-notch. The addition of Mankwe Ndosi calls to mind the Rolling Stones on later tours. Atmosphere's strength at this show was definitely the ability to move between a more straight-up hip hop sound and the style of more recent material without sounding forced or insincere. Atmosphere's set easily blew everyone else out of the water.
Listen to MP3s of some of the acts at the top of the post.