Amid hot and volatile weather, this year’s electro-centric Summer Set Music & Camping Festival had its ups and down but definitely had a lot to offer. This weekend featuredacts ranging from local jam bands to old-school hip-hop acts to Top 40 hitmakers. Summer Set is becoming one of the area’s biggest annual music festivals, and it’s clear that the big-name headliners are drawing crowds.
With a heat index close to 100 degrees and not a cloud in the sky there were already a fair amount of unfortunate sunburns in the crowd when I arrived at 3:00 on Friday. Slow Magic and Robert DeLong started off the day. BadBadNotGood shared a set with Ghostface Killah; the two released Sour Soul, a studio album, together this year. The jazz group played three songs before Ghostface Killah hopped out. I moved a stage over to catch a bit of John Mark Nelson—a strong local artist who was a bit of an outlier amid Summer Set’s mostly hip-hop and electronic lineup—then headed back over to catch the end of BadBadNotGood’s set. Ghostface Killah left the stage, at which point much of the crowd moved on, but BadBadNotGood stayed to play a few more songs.
The stages I’d visited seemed to have fairly small crowds, but once I reached the main stage I found where all the people were. Groups were flocking to the main stage’s electronic acts. Keys N Krates drew a large crowd, which dwindled for Earl Sweatshirt. It was clear these festivalgoers were there for the big electronic names. Purity Ring, who overlapped with Earl Sweatshirt, gave a creative performance with an mesmerizing stage set-up. Bassnectar, who had the most dedicated fans of the weekend, ended day one on the main stage. The entire front barrier was draped with Bassnectar flags, and was bordered with fans decked out in Bassnectar merchandise. Once the bass dropped, the crowd seemed downright possessed.
On Saturday, Hippo Campus drew a surprisingly sizable crowd for a 3:30 set. The festival grounds were decorated with art installations; some blew fire and other provided shade. There were people roaming around in giant monster costumes as well, and Hippo Campus coaxed one up on stage. They named him Carl. Another local and beloved artist, Lizzo, played next. Sophia Eris warmed up the crowd playing some danceworthy jams, and as Lizzo took the stage, the crowd grew. No matter the size of the crowd, Lizzo always pleases; she even fed the crowd some cookies.
I caught the first few songs of Tan Lines before heading to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Giraffage played a tent at the same time as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, with one of my favorite electronic sets of the weekend played. Many fans associate Giraffage with “chill vibes,” but towards the end of his set he was dropping dance-contagious remixes of Janet Jackson and R. Kelly. I hopped around after the set and caught a few songs from Tycho and Cloud Cult. The Weeknd played the second-to-last set of the evening, and the instant he stepped on the stage, the crowd turned into a sea of cell phones. Four-year festival veteran Big Gigantic closed the night out with thunderous brassy beats.
The last day opened to much-welcomed clouds, after two of the hottest days of the year—but with clouds came the anticipation of rain. Earphunk stared the day off with some funky jams. TUnE-yArDs followed that and played an energetic set. The performance I anticipated the most was next: Die Antwoord. A few minutes into the South African rap duo’s set, an announcer came on to tell the crowd that the festival was temporarily being shut down due to a severe weather warning. The crowd was disappointed, and while many trickled out, others wouldn’t move. Some chanted, “rain or shine!”
The storm never hit, though, and the only flood that greeted the festival grounds was that of a sea of people that stormed to the main stage after the festival called the all-clear. Action Bronson, Zeds Dead, and headliner Deadmau5 closed out the weekend for a joyful crowd.
BadBadNotGood and Ghostface Killah
John Mark Nelson
Bridget Bennett is a student at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.