Hip Hot Hotdish hosts Paul Jensen (K.K. Sliderr) and Eli Hammarsteen (Big Fat Eli) were fortunate enough to attend this year’s installation of Soundset Music Festival at the Minnesota Fairgrounds this past weekend. They were joined by Programming Director, Mark Idstrom, and together experienced much of the diverse musical acts and experiences the festival has to offer. Paul sat down with the two after the festival to gather some of their thoughts on this year’s entertainment. Here’s what they had to say:
Mark: Audio Recording?
Eli: Testing, testing, mic check.
Paul: How many years have you attended Soundset?
Mark: This was my sixth year.
Eli: This had to have been my fourth, maybe fifth year.
Paul: Did you feel that this Soundset was any different than those in previous years?
Mark: Way hotter, it was the hottest Soundset.
Eli: Yea.. it was uh, too hot! (laughs). I do like at least from a few years ago, since its been at the Fair. There's a lot more room, the stages were a bit more spread out it seemed like.
Paul: Yep, the addition of the Atmosphere and Friends stage this year.
Eli: I kind of like the separation, the vendor area was a bit away from the action. Enough to where you could appreciate each side of the festival.
Paul: I think the Fair has been a great venue for it too. The Fairgrounds have a lot to offer as the festival continues to expand, versus the Canterbury parking lot. Also, the Fairgrounds work well as a festival environment and help keep the festival more central to the Twin Cities.
Mark: Definitely. Beyond the main stages even, they did a great job of booking acts besides their traditional fare. The Essential Elements and the Shut Up and Rap tent gave festival goers even more options than usual, showcasing local and emerging acts as well as a number of DJ’s, including a special performance by hip-hop pioneer DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Paul: With that said, what did you guys think? What were some of you favorite performances of the day?
Mark: Overall, I’d like to say the best performance came from Wu-Tang who basically did an hour-long set, playing their 36 Chambers album front-to back. That was something I thought I’d never get to see. I didn’t think all of the members would show up, they’re kind of notorious for missing a couple members but everyone was there for the most part and it was phenomenal.
Paul: I agree, it was a treat to see them perform that album for its 25th anniversary. What about you Eli?
Eli: I really enjoyed Erykah and Tyler’s sets. They played back to back on the festival’s main stage and they both have a very soulful approach to their music so their sets really complimented one another. Erykah played a lot off of “Baduizm” and it was a treat to see her considering how prolific and reclusive she typically is. Tyler’s stage design was great, almost a double decker stage of sorts with colorful visuals relative to his last album, “Flower Boy.”
Mark: She came out during his set too to help him close with “See You Again.”
Paul: That was one of my highlights of the day, for sure.
Mark: I think that was a big takeaway moment for me to watch those two on stage together.
Eli: That was awesome. I was wondering if the two would perform together, considering they’ve worked together in the past.
Paul: And she had somewhat of a different approach to the song than Kali, that still worked very well.
Eli: Definitely, she took the song to a place that no one else but her could have really done.
Paul: What other acts did you guys see throughout the day?
Mark: I showed up for J.I.D. right away. That was around 1:30 I want to say. He kicked it off really strong and played an eclectic mix of his music. Jaden Smith was also worth mentioning. He was amazing, he had really good stage presence and great visuals behind him to back his music.
Paul: I agree, I think the stage design for Jaden’s show was great. Some of the best visuals I saw during the whole festival. They really helped to add to his stage presence. It was kind of funny that he opened and closed with the same song but it was about what you would expect.
Mark: Yeah (laughs), but definitely the only song I know him.
Eli: Definitely the only song I know by him (all laughs).
Paul: What did you guys make of Migos’ performance?
Mark: I remember they literally played maybe thirty minutes.
Eli: That sounds about right, after coming out nearly forty minutes late.
Paul: Yeah I thought one of the strangest things was when the schedule initially dropped, they weren’t closing the festival despite being the biggest act on the bill. They were slotted for the same time of the festival as Atmosphere, with Logic closing. Apparently they’re really synonymous with being late, and not starting or ending when they are scheduled to so I’m guessing they gave them that slot to ensure they ended by the noise curfew at ten.
Mark: Overall, their set was about what you would expect. They played a lot of their hits. They weren’t incredibly charismatic or energetic but they put together a fun headlining set.
Eli: Yea, I think everyone was just so tired at the end of the hot day. No one had any energy left.
Paul: Was there anything that disappointed you guys this year? Obviously Brockhampton announcing they wouldn’t be able to make it the morning of the festival was a huge disappointment.
Eli: I think that the festival would have benefited from them showing up. I felt that there was an obvious gap in the schedule left by their absence. Especially considering the crowd that Soundset draws, it would have been ideal to have a younger, more emerging act to balance out more established acts like Wu-Tang and Erykah that also held afternoon slots.
Paul: I agree, I’ve seen them before and they have a great stage presence and energy that definitely would have been a treat to festival goers. Anyway, wrapping things up, what did you guys think overall?
Eli: Overall I thought it was a bit underwhelming. You know, there have been so many artists dropping/replacements every year, not every year, but enough. Headliners. I think if they took the existing format and expanded it into a multi-day festival it would help to cushion any scheduling conflicts as well help some artists to take the festival more seriously.
Paul: Mark and I were saying that’s definitely the next step for Soundset, to expand the festival across multiple days, which will make it more competitive among emerging festivals like Rolling Loud.
Mark: The substitutions can be nice in the instance of Mac Miller who didn’t show last year, and instead we got Playboi Carti. Its hard because is is really all up in the air and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. As a patron of the festival it is always a good time, however that being said, this year was probably my least favorite of the six that I’ve attended.
Eli: As I said before, this was definitely the hottest of the Soundset’s that I’ve attended. Going along with that, I don’t think they were as effective as they could have been with making water accessible to festival patrons. There were only a few taps available to guests with lines that easily lasted over twenty minutes, which pales in comparison to years past. Also, this year made for another year riddled by cancellations and scheduling errors. I wouldn’t regard this year as one of its best, but regardless I had a good time and look forward to what the festival holds for the future.
Paul: Well, thanks for talking to me guys and it was great to hear your thoughts on this year’s Soundset. I’m sure the festival will continue to give us lots to talk about when it returns next year for Memorial Day weekend.