By: BoB Mandich
After taking 2013 off, CounterPoint Music & Arts Festival returns for its second year at the end of April. On top of returning at a new time of year (the inaugural edition took place in September) the festival will also be in a new location. Kingston Downs in Rome, GA will be the new home of CounterPoint, located about an hour north of Atlanta. This year’s lineup boasts a very impressive and eclectic mix of the best artists in electronic, hip-hop and alternative music. Here’s our list of the top ten artists we’re most excited to be Rey Jing in Georgia with…
10. CASHMERE CAT
After a big 2013 that saw this young cat (pun intended) get notoriety with several impressive releases, Cashmere Cat will look to make a name for himself on the festival circuit in 2014. His slow grooving trap beats know just how to get a late night popping and should be received quite well by the hip-hop friendly state.
Plenty of faces will proceed to melt over the course of Thriftworks’ performance. The Drip-Hop specialist has been on point every time we’ve seen him and appears to only be getting better as a dj. If you’ve yet to catch Thriftworks live then do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on him at CounterPoint.
Though Shpongle is a collective of artists, the majority of performances is done mostly in the form of dj sets by Simon Posford. Shpongle dj sets are nothing to scoff at either. An incredible visualizer known as the shpongletron (now in version 3.0) aids in taking the crowd on a much deeper spiritual journey that is guided by the spacey and shamanistic soundscapes of outer Shpongolia.
07. FLUX PAVILION
You can not mention dubstep without citing the influence of the United Kingdom. You also can’t bring up the United Kingdom and not mention Flux Pavilion. As one of the innovators and true superstars of the electronic sub genre Flux carries with him a responsibility to always turn out a crowd and bring the house down. He never fails to deliver. Songs like “I Can’t Stop” and “Bass Cannon” will one day go down as some of the greatest songs in the history of dubstep and always evoke strong reactions from a live audience. We look forward to hearing some old and new in Georgia.
06. CHANCE THE RAPPER
Chance The Rapper went from Chicago’s best up and coming rapper to a household name in the blink of an eye. 2013 was a crazy year for Chancelor with the release of the wildly popular and critically acclaimed Acid Rap. He was also featured on some tracks with some big name artists like Lil Wayne & Childish Gambino and fellow young guns like Joey Bada$$, Probcause & Action Bronson. The Rapper has also ventured out into the world of electronic music in an attempt to gain some crossover success. His guest verse on the remix for James Blake’s “Life Round Here” got a lot of people talking and you can also find him on Skrillex’s new album, Recess, on the track “Coast is Clear”. One thing that is very clear is that Chance The Rapper is on fire right now and if you want to get close to some of that hot fire (no offense to Dylan, the greatest rapper of all time) then be sure to catch his set at Counterpoint. He may even surprise those in attendance and come out during an electronic set so he can show everyone just how well hip-hop and electronic can mesh together.
Much like dubstep did right before it, trap music blew up right in front of our very eyes. Now when a certain type of music blows up and becomes mainstream there will be the inevitable mass amount of repetitiveness filling the airwaves. At this point you have to separate the artists that truly standout as the best from the artists that sound like everyone else. UK DJ & Producer Rustie is one of the best. His debut album, Glass Swords, was nominated for the mercury prize (The UK’s most prestigious musical honor) in 2011. Since then he has been touring all over the globe shutting every bar, club, venue and festival down in the process. His heavy bass and high claps along with his high energy keep people bouncing till their knees give out. Pretty soon the venues are going to get a lot bigger because when you got the type of raw talent that Rustie possesses that’s just how it works. We’re calling it right now, Rustie’s set will be one of the most talked about performances of the weekend.
Scott Hansen, a.k.a. Tycho, has really created something special with this musical project. Since 2004 he has taken the world of Ambient music to new heights by introducing it to a mainstream audience, something that very few ambient artists have been able to do. Fast forward to 2014 and he is probably one of the most talked about artists of the year so far. Awake has received incredible reviews and praise from fans all around the world since it was made available to stream a few weeks back. 33 minutes of pure beauty would be one way to put it but that really wouldn’t even come close to describing it. There is so much texture in Awake that you can literally feel it with your eardrums. A cross country tour in support of the new album starts in a few days and will feature the live band that Tycho has been playing with since 2010. Have you ever seen a LIVE ambient show? Well my friend you really don’t know what beauty in music is until you can say that you have. Tycho’s set will surely bring tears of joy to several in Kingston Downs.
The jamtronica world has a new powerhouse force on its hands and that force is Papadosio. The band has been on an absolute tear over the past 2 years and have a following that is eerily reminiscent of The Grateful Dead & Phish. Though the numbers might not quite reflect it yet the devotion of their fanbase is all the proof you need and let’s not forget that The Dead were formed in 1965 and Phish in 1983. Papadosio has only been together since 2005. With a decade of experience under their belt and their popularity reaching great new heights there is really no stopping the Papa D Express. Their performances are often referred to as festival stealers and their set lists incorporate a fusion of rock and electronic music that really can’t be touched in terms of sharpness. Their message of love, peace and equality is a familiar one but they also stress how we should never be too comfortable or complacent because those are our biggest enemies. So don’t plan on getting too comfortable at Dosio’s set because your body is gonna be doing a whole lot of moving that you didn’t even know it was capable of. That, my friends, is a very good thing.
We close out the top ten with 2 very big and very special homecomings. The first homecoming is Sound Tribe Sector 9. It really can’t be said enough how incredible their 5 night new year’s run in Atlanta truly was. Every set list was hot and the crowds were even hotter. Then out of nowhere David Murphy left the band and the Sound Tribe we knew was no longer the Sound Tribe we knew. While many fans were crushed and thought that this signaled the end, the remaining remembers assured us that this was not case. Festival dates have been popping up like they normally would around this time of year and the band has a newly found inspiration that should really get fans excited. The Georgia natives will be playing just their third show with the new bassist (who has still yet to be announced) and their first in their home state. You can expect a huge crowd to be on hand to show their support and welcome in the new era of Sound Tribe Sector 9. Even though the era itself will be new we may very well see STS9 revert back to the past and dust off some true gems that we haven’t heard in quite some time. How incredible would it be to hear “Itzamana”, “Havona Ascent”, “Shine” or “Muir Soul”? Regardless of what they play STS9 recognizes that this will be a special performance and another way to make it special could involve some incorporation of horned instruments and the act we have listed at number 1…
Was there really any doubt? Of course OutKast is our most anticipated act of Counterpoint. As somebody who grew up on hip-hop I can tell you that hip-hop as a whole has been very dull without Big Boi & Andre 3000 soothing our eardrums with their southern flow. No two artists in the history of music have fed off each other the way they do. It’s almost like one knows what the other is about to say before they even say it so they say something even better to make the other come up with something even better than that, which they always do. This will be OutKast’s second performance (technically third since Coachella is two weekends) on their 40+ festival tour and they will be performing in front of a massive crowd of ATLiens that will openly recite every word to classics such as “Ms. Jackson”, “Rosa Parks”, “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”, “The Way You Move” and countless others. Coachella will be epic for the simple fact that it’s Coachella but OutKast in their home state? Now that’s going to be a serious party. Lastly, how cool would it be it OutKast and STS9 were on stage together in some capacity??? Maybe OutKast comes out while Sound Tribe is covering “Spottieottiedopaliscious” with The Liquid Horns or vice versa. What if Sound Tribe served as the backing band for OutKast’s entire performance? A guy can dream. With OutKast and STS9 both hailing from Georgia, being marquee names on the lineup and the obvious connection they have, one would have to think that Counterpoint would be wise enough to try and create a once in a lifetime moment that fans will never forget. And when people ask where did that happen they’ll reply with Counterpoint Music Festival.