Local Current Blog

Preview: Soundset 2016 is one highlight after another

A crowd at Soundset 2015. Photo by Bridget Bennett for MPR.

Soundset 2016 kicks off this weekend, and it’s been a long time since I was this excited for a festival. Typically, I start off festivals with a few favorite artists on the lineup, and I discover lots of new music just by catching bits of sets. At Eaux Claires, I found Elliot Moss; at TFBSE, denitia and sene blew me away; Shabazz Palaces entranced me at Doomtree Zoo.

But when it comes to Soundset, so many of the slotted performers are already favorites (Raury, Doomtree), local heroes (Lizzo, Lexii Alijai), and/or straight-up legends (Common, The Roots) that I don’t even know where to begin talking about the performers (let’s forget about trying to plan my day). Since I’m finding myself without words, I’ve enlisted Twitter to help me detail Sunday.

Setting the stage(s)

This year, Soundset moves to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds after being held in Shakopee, Minn., for several years. Technically, the festival will have five different stages: the Main Stage (North), the Main Stage (South), the Fifth Element Stage, the Essential Elements Stage, and the Open Mic Stage. Performances will toggle between sides of the main stage — one side sets up and tears down while the other is in use — and the Open Mic Stage will be used by attendees.

Recently, the internet rejoiced upon finding out Sweet Martha’s cookies will be on sale in a tent on the Midway. The Soundset 2016 app has the full details on other food options, but a few to look forward to include Kabomelette, The Anchor Fish & Chips, The Moral Omnivore, El Sol Mexican Food, and Dino’s Gyros.

Just by purchasing a ticket, attendees earned the option to park near Soundset (general admission; VIP), but traveling by bus or train/shuttle should be just as easy. Metro Transit passes will be free and usable from 7:00 a.m.-11:55 p.m.

Although it’s too far out to say for sure, Sunday’s weather is looking great. Did you buy a poncho for Beyoncé’s powerful TCF Bank show? It still might go unused, because Soundset forecasts predict a mostly sunny day and a high of 83°.

Bring/don’t bring

Backpacks are okay this year, as long as they’re smaller than 20″ tall, 15″ wide and 9″ thick. Bring sunscreen, a sealed or empty 20-oz. water bottle (the festival will provide free water stations), sunglasses, point-and-shoot cameras, and/or a small beach towel. No weapons, chairs, blankets, umbrellas, or speakers. Check out more dos and don’ts at the official Soundset FAQ.

From hip-hop’s Roots to its Future

Gates open at 11:00 a.m., and three fantastic local DJs — Shannon Blowtorch, Just Nine, and TIIIIIIIIIIP — play the Essential Elements, Fifth Element, and Main Stages, respectively, from 11 a.m. until 12 p.m. A few months ago, DJ Shannon Blowtorch released a Soundset teaser mix that should get ticketholders excited.

From 12 to 1:30 p.m., the Essential Elements Stage will host Soundset’s annual “Last of the Record Buyers” production showcase, which features Bionik, Big Cats x Eric Mayson, Local Current DJ in Residence Greg Grease, Talia Knight, and many others. Each producer will have five minutes to showcase their live skills.

And from here, the lineup goes unbelievable. Some of the first national artists on the bill are Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals; hailing from California, .Paak is a rapper/drummer/producer who Dr. Dre featured on Compton. .Paak and the band just played on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in front of the Roots (another Soundset band!), and members of the latter group tweeted their admiration.

Even before Chance The Rapper plays Rock The Garden on June 18, Chicago artists should impress the Twin Cities this year. Mick Jenkins, Noname (who did a feature on Chance’s Acid Rap), and Jesse De La Pena represent the Windy City on the Soundset line-up.

Future, from Atlanta, is current rap royalty. Before he and Drake play the Xcel on July 24, he’s one of a few artists headlining Soundset.

The festival is full of Minnesotan artists; Baby Shel & DJ Quincy James, Lexii Alijai, Finding Novyon, I Self DevineMuja Messiah, and Doomtree all play the Fifth Element Stage, while Lizzo, Prof, and Atmosphere will be on the main stages.

Okay. I’ve held it together so far, but from here, my attempts to describe the lineup just turn into a crescendo of names. We’re getting Post Malone! Goldlink! A$AP Rocky! The ROOTS!

Other highlights: Pouya and Raury are artists to watch. Domo Genesis, aside from being a member of Odd Future, has a great song with Anderson .Paak (watch for an onstage team-up). Fans have serious love for Danny Brown and Aesop Rock.


General admission tickets are still on sale online and at Fifth Element on Minneapolis’s Hennepin Avenue (for $88 each), and they’ll be available at the door ($100) until the festival sells out.

On Sunday, see a car show, B-boy/B-girl battles, and a skate showdown (with Familia Skate Shop).

If you want to dedicate your whole weekend to Soundset, spend Thursday through Sunday at the open mic, skate jam, before partyafterparty (with Questlove), and all the other available activities.

No matter what your Soundset 2016 looks like, enjoy, stay safe, and have fun. Fans from all around the world are trekking out to the country’s biggest hip-hop festival, so meet new people and represent our community well. This could be one for the ages.

Full set times by stage:

Main Stage (South)

DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Murs & 9th Wonder – 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals – 1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Danny Brown – 2:35 – 3:10 p.m.
Prof – 3:50 – 4:30 p.m.
Atmosphere – 5:15 – 6:00 p.m.
Future – 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Main Stage (North)

Blueprint – 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.
Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman (Lice) – 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Lizzo – 2:00 – 2:35 p.m.
Machine Gun Kelly – 3:10 – 3:50 p.m.
Common – 4:30 – 5:15 p.m.
The Roots – 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
A$AP Rocky – 8:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Fifth Element Stage

DJ Just Nine – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Reverie – 12:00 – 12:20 p.m.
Baby Shel & DJ Quincy James – 12:20 – 12:40 p.m.
Lexii Alijai – 12:40 – 1:00 p.m.
Finding Novyon – 1:00 – 1:20 p.m.
Noname – 1:20 – 1:40 p.m.
A-F-R-O – 1:40 – 2:00 p.m.
Mick Jenkins – 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
I Self Devine & Muja Messiah Present 9th House – 2:35 – 3:05 p.m.
Pharoahe Monch – 3:05 – 3:35 p.m.
Goldlink – 3:35 – 4:05 p.m.
Pouya – 4:05 – 4:35 p.m.
Domo Genesis – 4:35 – 5:05 p.m.
Post Malone – 5:05 – 5:35 p.m.
Raury – 5:50 – 6:20 p.m.
Jay Rock – 6:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Doomtree – 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Essential Elements Stage

DJ Shannon Blowtorch – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Jesse De La Pena – 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Jazzy Joyce – 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
DJ Marley Marl – 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Crazy Legs / Rock Steady Crew – 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Skeme Richards – 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.