Pulling up to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds always fills me with excitement. Whether I’m there to eat all the fried food, see a big name performer or comedian, or attend some other festival- like Soundset- I never leave disappointed. I arrived bright and early at 11AM and waited in line for about 25 minutes and then I was off! I started out with my usual little tour around the grounds to see what merch and food was available and to check out the non-music attractions. The “Soundset Custom Car Show” was full of some of the craziest cars I’ve ever seen. Props to anyone who has the dedication and creativity to spend so much time and money making their car look like a piece of art. The “Familia Skateboard Showdown” made me wish I wasn’t truly the least athletic person on this earth- it was impressive, of course! Finally, I was ready to see some music.
Early in the day, the side stages were the place to be. First I checked out a little bit of the Shut Up and Rap competition, which was conveniently held at the Shut up and Rap Stage, hosted by Go 95.3’s Sophia Eris and Auggie 5000. People who thought they had what it takes to be the next local rap star got their time to shine. I was pleasantly surprised by how talented most of the performers actually were! It’s always a gamble when you just give anyone a mic and let them go at it. As much as I was enjoying myself, I heard a familiar voice coming from the Atmostphere & Friends stage and made my way over there to see a bit of The Lioness’ set.
I had seen The Lioness open up for Doomtree (who I really wish had been playing yesterday!) at the Palace Theatre last fall and had added a few of her songs to my regular rotation since then. Her strong, unique vocals and no-frills stage presence really hold their own. I was pretty excited to not only see some faces in the crowd singing along, but also to see that people passing by were liking what they heard enough to stop and stay for a song or two.
Atmosphere & Friends Stage
At 1:30 on the Essential Elements stage came possibly my favorite act of the day- Sick Trim. As I mentioned above, I’m a big Doomtree fan, and Sick Trim is their own Paper Tiger & Lazerbeak’s side project. I’ve always loved watching the two producers do their thing during Doomtree shows but, of course, also wanted to watch whoever was rapping. Because of that conundrum, I’ve always deep down hoped that someday I could see Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak live- and Sick Trim made those dreams come true! The way they were manipulating the sounds that were being played was amazing and I found myself wondering a few times how it was even possible to do what they were doing so well. I’m assuming practice is what made them perfect.
I bolted away from the Sick Trim performance to Main Stage North to see Jaden Smith. I’ll admit, I’ve sung along to his hit song “Icon” in the car quite a few times but had no idea it was him that was singing it until preparing to see him at Soundset. His set was super energetic and had a very angry, politically charged feeling to it- which I loved. Seeing him was great but this was the first set of the day where it was so crowded and full of reckless teenagers that I was more than ready to move along when it was over.
All I had to do was take a few steps to the side to see Prof at Main Stage South. It’s always an insanely fun show when Prof’s on stage, and I was not disappointed. I say all year round that I love seeing him, and that the perfect place to do it is at Soundset since things get so rowdy. He crowdsurfed in giant pool floaties and both rapped and sang his little heart out. I would have loved to stay for the whole thing, but I left a few minutes early to catch the end of Young M.A.’s set. I got to hear her hit single “Ooouuu” (I promise, you’ve heard it. Look it up.) and left a happy camper.
The rest of the day was quite a blur, but I ran from the main stages to the Atmosphere and Friends stage, seeing the legendary Erykah Badu, to Brother Ali. Both of which were super inspirational, beautiful, and breathtaking. I’m not exaggerating when I say I saw multiple people shedding tears during both of those sets. Tyler the Creator and Ice-T played at the same time, and so did Migos and Atmosphere. I was super bummed that I had to split up the sets of the four acts I wanted to see most that day, but I didn’t leave disappointed.
Main Stage South
After hearing Migos play “Walk It Talk It,” and “MotorSport,” I felt satisfied enough to go see the ones we can thank for this whole festival in the first place- Atmosphere. I caught about 2/3 of their set (played on the stage named after them!) and boy, oh boy, was it worth missing Migos for. I’ve seen Atmosphere so many times at this point in my life that I always think I know what to expect- but I was wrong. Slug had an energy about him (pride, maybe?) that was so inspiring and made everyone else feel good too. Singing along to so many of my favorite songs was the perfect way to almost end the night.
Last up, headlining the festival on the Main Stage North this year, was Logic. He sounded just like he did on the radio and I was surprised at how many of his songs I recognized. I could feel that the crowd was getting pretty tired out from running around the fairgrounds all day, spending nearly 12 hours in the sun, and I was too. I sung along to “Everyday,” one of his many smash hits, as I made my way out of the giant crowd towards the exit. On the uber ride back to South Minneapolis I reflected on the day and realized that all of my favorite acts were local performers. It shouldn’t but it always surprises me how much talent is packed into these Twin Cities. I arrived home sunburnt and ready for a good meal and a long night’s sleep, but so pumped that I got to attend another year of my favorite festival.
Main Stage North