After a successful first run as a house music–oriented three-day blur, Georgia’s CounterPoint Festival (April 25–27, 2014) has firmly committed to avoiding the sophomore slump by diversifying their lineup to establish themselves as a worthy stop for festivalgoers of all tastes.
The blu™ Freedom Stage lineup reads like a “who’s who” blog post written by that one friend who somehow has 10,000 Spotify followers. It’s all over the place—beauty in thematic chaos, if you will.
OutKast’s presence at their home state’s premier festival guarantees a special set. Every festival promoter with a pulse has been emailing, dialing and texting their fingers raw to get the brilliant Atlanta duo. Their set list is anyone’s guess, but it would be a thrill to hear some new OutKast live at CounterPoint.
Next on the bill is Nu Jazz producer Pretty Lights, who will certainly bring the heat with his unconventional yet functional blend of old-school soul and contemporary electro.
2010’s Internet darling Foster The People is signed up in promotion of their new album Supermodel. After four years of totally unexpected stardom, lead singer Mark Foster has gotten over his early stage fright and is ready to deliver.
Major Lazer is booked with the express purpose of pushing the twerk factor into overdrive. The Diplo-helmed trio has a well-hewn reputation for loud and intense live shows, so throw on the Kanye glasses and find someone to dance on.
Back in 2004, the Garden State soundtrack served to introduce Washington, D.C.’s, Thievery Corporation to the mainstream. Their downtempo acid-fusion will serve as a calming respite before Big Gigantic takes the stage to blow the speakers out.
Big Gigantic is an anomaly, a pair of highly trained and experienced musicians performing an improvisational electronica/live hybrid. They perform with live horns and drums, a far cry from the ubiquitous knob-twisters contemporary electronic music is often associated with.
J. Cole’s star is now burning brightly after his early days under Jay-Z and Drake’s wings. His latest album, Born Sinner, earned numerous plaudits, and debuted at No. 2 on Billboard. Maybe attendees will be treated to a surprise TLC sighting on a performance of “Crooked Smile.” Make it happen!
Blending an encyclopedic knowledge of both performance art and popular music, Janelle Monae is positioning herself as Generation Y’s Prince (or Gen Y’s the artist formerly known as Prince). No one since The Purple One has genre-twisted so deftly as Monae. She is both a jack and master of all performance trades.
OutKast confidante Killer Mike will take the stage with El-P as Run The Jewels. El-P is the anti-Macklemore, letting loose his brand of conscious aggression as he trades verses with Killer Mike’s velvet Georgia drawl. Their half-time production takes nods from psychedelic rock and Trap. Fuzzy guitar is right at home with a sub-bass 808 kick.
Brooklyn’s St. Lucia revises Phil Collins–era Genesis for the electronic audience, belting out anthemic vocal hooks over shimmering synths and other electronic accouterments. Most likely to inspire a singalong at CounterPoint? St. Lucia. Learn the words.
Wild Cub sounds like a male Haim. That’s intended as a compliment. Their clean, danceable synth-pop brings just enough guitar to have an edge without distracting from the real meat—the synth section. It’s a great tribute to the best of ’80s dance-pop. Props to Wild Cub leader Keegan DeWitt for moving away from Brooklyn to Nashville to start his music career. No better music city than Music City.
Fellow Nashville band Moon Taxi hits harder with a groove-oriented take on the jamband paradigm. Their generous use of electronic ornamentation adds a tight dance focus that will ensure that even the most rhythmically challenged of the audience will find a way to shake it out.
Yacht is one of the harder bands to categorize, thanks both to their inherent stylistic malleability and their willingness to promote remixes of their music. It’s hard to guess what they’ll bust out on stage, but they certainly will bring the energy. That’s what festivals are all about, that indeterminable energy.
For those of you who don’t think lounge music can be cool, stop what you’re doing and check out Poolside. How many electronic artists would cover Neil Young and be comfortable enough to include it on their debut LP? One: Poolside. Their cover was so awesome that it’s been a mainstay in LCD Soundsystem progenitor James Murphy’s DJ sets for years. Their “daytime disco” provides as smooth a groove as you’ll ever hear.
The blu Freedom Stage is looking to be an awesome time. Snap up your tickets and look for blu on the scene!
Michael Nissenbaum is a lawyer by day (and night), and a writer by night (and day). You can follow him on Twitter @gnarsenbaum.