Day 1: Pemberton Festival opens with Snoop Dogg, Rae Sremmurd, Pell & Cypress Hill
Pemberton, BC – The winter season gives us the chance to experience a few of the most promising international artists, but nothing compared to the numbers of highly successful acts that Pemberton Music consistently brings each year. It’s like Christmas for media because we get to critique an array of the best there is.
Drawing over 115,000 people to the 2015 festival, and over 120 performances, it’s easy to conclude that this is the biggest event on the West-Coast, with the most musical versatility that could be offered. Maybe you were at last year’s weekend, and had the chance to catch Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Missy Elliott, or Kid Cudi. Chances are you found something that inspired you enough to check out this year’s roster which boasted an equally as sonically satisfying experience. We’re out at Pemberton this weekend to offer you live coverage of the 2016 event, and with Day 1 under our belt we can assure you that there is a lot of notable content coming your way. Day 1 was nothing short of impactful, and featured Pell, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, and Rae Sremmurd who individually set the bar high for the rest of the weekend. Unsurprisingly, Snoop stole the show and was a highlight of the weekend.
“I coulda been anywhere but I chose to be in Pemberton, BC tonight. It’s ’cause I love Canada, and Canada loves Snoop Dogg.” -Snoop Dogg
Starksville, MS – When you think of independent rappers, there are few who are currently reaching high levels of success beside the obvious likes of Macklemore. But over this last year, New Orleans native, Pell, is making the strongest case supporting the argument that personal representation may be a viable option for other artists. It’s restorative of my faith in the direction of modern rap to see artists taking full control of their careers and succeeding at it. Forced to relocate in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, the rapper became well known for his unique rhythmic style which mixes rap and a southern flow with an admitted futuristic tone. “Eleven:11” is worth a listen.
The anticipation of the first act of the weekend had manifested a high energy as people crowded around the stage shortly after 3. Feeding off of the anticipation, he jumped onto the stage and opened his set by screaming, “Oh my god….Shit!” after seeing the size of the audience. There’s a considerable difference between being cocky and confident. The nice thing about Pell was that he didn’t come on stage and wreck his surroundings, but rather was focused on putting on a good show that engaged his audience.
At multiple times he had the crowd chanting lyrics, and made sure to shoutout his mom who was watching from the side of the stage. The strong jazz influence was easily identified in his hour long set, and his eclectic bars made for an interesting performance that was lyrically stimulating. Tracks that got play time included the obvious “Eleven:11”, “Dollar Store”, and “Runaway”. But most highly noted was his performance of his two recently released tracks “Show Out” and “Basic Beach” (they both dropped last week). Fully active, he bounced between the sides of the stage. His one-man band withdrew a guitar and ran riffs over the futuristic melodies that let us all hear his surprisingly nice singing voice. Not only can this artist rap, but he’s also a really skilled vocalist. He’s without a doubt made the gains in his career for valid reasons.
Long Beach, CA – Snoop Dogg was one of the headliners for the festival which made Pemberton an event that you didn’t want to miss, and the real G.O.A.T. and OG of the game. The appeal of having Snoop take on one of the largest slots at this festival is a statement to his ability to pay homage to the old while still drawing in the new generation. If we really take an overlook at his career, he’s a saavy businessman as well as artist, who has made wise moves with his music, which have helped him remain present and classic at the same time.
His 9:45 pm slot meant that his entrance was perfectly timed with the setting of the sun, and made for a pretty epic entrance. In regal style, Snoop Dogg slinked onto the stage in a black satin jacket, beanie, and sunglasses with a blunt between his fingers (which he continued to blaze throughout his set). To match this iconic entrance, he opened his show with “Still D.R.E.” Hilariously, he kept those sunglasses throughout the full show regardless that it was fully dark outside.
While most shows of the day drew in crowds of large size, everyone in the festival crowded around the “Pemberton” stage well in advance of his entrance. As a reviewer, I generally find myself drawn to diving to the front of a crowd regardless of how long it takes to get there. But I started moving to the the front 45 minutes before his set and only managed to get a third of the way. People were packed together crotch-to-crotch, and if you were trying to get a closer view of the legend than them, there was a strong chance you were going to get blocked. People were pushing and territorial of their spots, and rightly so. The late slot time also meant that 99.9% of the crowd was thoroughly lit as well. His entrance prompted everyone to spark their buds in the crowd.
The only way to describe the way that Snoop Dogg moves is with a calculated swagger. It’s not full of extreme movement, but his body delivers the smoothest performance that I’ve ever seen. And when Snoop spoke (which wasn’t that often), he had the whole crowd hanging on his every word. He deservedly demands a level of respect solely because of his years in the game. He interrupted the DJ with a slight reflection when he explained, “I coulda been anywhere but I chose to be in Pemberton, BC tonight. It’s cause I love Canada, and Canada loves Snoop Dogg” He also reminisced about the current state of violence we’ve experienced in the last week, and his hopes that he wanted everyone in attendance to get home safe to their loved ones safely after the weekend.
The evening was full of throwback of old and a bit of more current material. But regardless of your age, he managed to throw in tracks that kept everyone entertained. If you were in the crowd when 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P” came on, you were able to witness the overwhelming volume of thousands of people screaming the words at their loudest volumes. This applied to both the older audience (those 30’s and ups who were closer to the back) as well as the 17 year old kids who probably were barely out of the womb when the track came out.
Highlights of the evening included, “Gin and Juice”, a rendition of House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, DJ Khaled’s “All I do is Win” and the legendary “Drop it like it’s Hot”. “Smoke Weed Everyday” had everyone gyrating as Snoop sent out a shoutout to all of the beautiful women in the audience. Basically the set was everything you would think that it would be, a legendary experience to match the legend that he is.
South Gate, CA – It wouldn’t be a well-rounded festival without some of the classics to remind us that the culture of hip-hop spans more than just our current era. Cypress Hill came out and delivered a sensational set that impressed both old and new fans alike. It’s been over ten years, if not more, since their last stop in B.C., and they were welcomed back with open arms. B-Real and Sen Dogg lit up the stage with 90% of iconic and classic tracks. Highlights of their set included: “Hand on the Pump”, “Hits from the Bong”, and “Insane in the Brain”.
With people reeling after their departure, it was without a doubt the show that resonated with the longest. DJ Muggs (Founding member, DJ and Producer) was unfortunately not in attendance, but it didn’t stop the duo from bringing a high energy performance.
In due order, the crowd celebrated their awaited return by lighting up, and the crowd basically went up in a poof of smoke. If you were in the vicinity, you might have caught second-hand inhalation and a little of the after-effects. The come-back was a festival highlight for many.
Tupelo, MS – By one a.m. on a Thursday night, most people would be winding down from an evening of partying, but Pemberton turned it right back up by putting Rae Sremmurd on the Bass Camp stage. It’s important to communicate how these two brothers bring out the wild child in the most tame concert listener. Rae Sremmurd (composed of Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jxmmi”) are known for their trap-like beats and party tracks, but I don’t think anyone really anticipated the high energy set that they put on. If there was a rap version of a rock star, these two would definitely represent it. Full of energy, iconic dance moves, and the most unreal effects I’ve seen yet this weekend, their hour-long performance was the definition of a turn-up.
SremmLife was the album that put these two on the maps for most listeners, as well as other artists. You might remember their epic video for “Throw Sum Mo” which featured Nicki Minaj and a variety of strippers rollerblading around an inside arena while the duo threw money around. Basically, these guys have made statements tracks which have served as some of the best party music that has filled our libraries.
Their set featured their signatures songs “No Type”, “Come Get Her”, and “No Flex Zone”. Some moments that remain ingrained in memory were the two brothers playing air guitars and low grinding on the multi-level platforms that made up their stage. Their hype was transferred to the energy as their small frames catapulted across the stage. Songs were broken up with various exclamations of “Go get SremmLife 2!” and shout-outs to the women in the audience. As an ending to Day 1, they left the audience hyped and with high expectations for Day 2.
Pemberton Festival Photos: Day 1
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Written by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Twitter: @PELLYEAH | @SnoopDogg | @cypresshill | @RaeSremmurd