We’re still reminiscing over Day 2 of Pemberton with J. Cole, Miguel and more
Pemberton, BC – With an overwhelming surge in attendance at this year’s festival, Pemberton drew 180,000 people to their grounds. Day 2 was possibly the most eventful day in terms of line-up, and definitely culminated with a wide variety of rap, hip-hop and R&B talents. Leading up to the weekend, many felt as though this year wasn’t as good as the last – but we strongly beg to differ. With acts like Miguel, returning Pemby performer J.Cole, Method Man & Redman, The Internet, and Joey Bada$$, the line-up was considerably stronger for all hip-hop heads.
An equal portion of classics and current artists were mixed to create an experience that was both reminiscent (and hit all those bittersweet tracks) while still giving the younger audience material to jive to. With the size of the crowds being so large regardless of which stage you were at, it was easy to assume that people reacted well to this approach. Highlights of the night included watching Miguel fall to his knees (every woman’s dream), acoustic verses from Joey Bada$$, mosh pits galore, and an epic double rainbow that overlooked the festival.
“You are the only ‘you’ there will ever be.” – Miguel
Going into the festival as a casual Joey Bada$$ fan, I didn’t really know what to expect from his set. He’s known for his killer flow, and advanced bar-work that puts most lyricists to shame. There are few of his contemporaries who have produced anything that comes close to his articulation. If you’re a fan, it’s probably because you’re a true rap-fiend who has an appreciation for classical 808s and historically renowned hip-hop styles. The turn-out for his set reflected this appreciation with a smaller, but ridiculously dedicated audience who came out fully educated in his material and ready to rap it back to him word for word. He impressively fed off of this pure energy as he entered stage and exclaimed that he was going to see if we were real Joey Bada$$ fans.
I was really impressed with his performance of “Paper Trails” as he’s actually able to spit surprisingly fast. There’s a respect that is due to rappers who can get behind a mic with that kind of skill and actually deliver. The only criticism I may have had was the lack of high-energy tracks or pump-up music to attract in a wider audience, but to be perfectly fair – you don’t come to a Joey Bada$$ concert for club music. You’re there 100% for the advanced bars, and in that respect his set at Pemberton delivered in every way. The crowd was mostly comprised of dudes who were vibing and ready to mosh at almost every given moment (it started at the first song and kept going long after he departed the stage). Joey was equally down for the energy as he tried to get the audience to open up a pit in the middle.
Not surprisingly one of the highlights of his show was when he played “Devastated” not once, but twice – due in part to the encore from the audience. The track had the girls bobbing, and left us all with a good taste in our mouths. All in all, I would highly recommend catching him the next chance you can, but if you’re a girl under 5’5 I suggest bringing a male friend to keep you from getting knocked over by rowdy dudes. His fans are loyal and come out ready to get rowdy.
Who loves Miguel? We love Miguel – along with every other woman that was in attendance on Day 2 (but we don’t blame them after watching him slide into the splits mid-way into his set). If you’re familiar with Miguel and his music you know that everything that he does is a completely spiritual and sensual experience, mixed with a little bit of rock-and-roll attitude. So it was no surprise that his live set was as unforgettable as his music, as he came onto stage donning an all white outfit to the reception of a million high-pitched screams. To be perfectly fair, he’s even more visually appealing in real life, and I can confirm that his voice is equally as amazing. His band seemed to feed off his energy as they were dressed in similarly angelic white outfits, baring their guitars and iconic rock star inspired stances.
Their movements and dancing was a sight in itself. When Miguel wasn’t sliding into those eye-popping splits, he was pulling out other impressive moves. You could tell he was giving it all of the energy that he had as the sweat was beading down his face by the end of his performance. Highlights included falling straight to his knees and bouncing back upright, clutching the microphone like Elvis, and jumping around with his band mates. His dedication to his set was off the charts, and raised the spirits of a mid-afternoon concert. They had him play one of the larger stages, and he attracted the majority of people just for the fact that his music was so easy to listen to. Almost too perfectly, a double-rainbow emerged from behind the clouds and stretched across the festival grounds right in the middle of his show.
When he wasn’t playing hit tracks like “Simple Things”, “Coffee”, “Adorn”, and “Waves” he was generally remarking on how beautiful it was to be playing in front of the overlooking mountains. “What’s Normal Anyways” prompted the reflections and commentary to the audience about how remarkable and unique each person is in the world, and how our individuality makes us beautiful. It was a feel-good concert that left you uplifted, and feeling higher (pun intended) than you had arrived. But, that’s why he’s so loved as an artist, right?! Miguel’s latest album Wildheart is full of feel-good anthems that touch on the sensual highs of life. He successfully brought that same experience to his show at Pemberton. Much of that album received rotation. I don’t know how long I’d been waiting to hear “leaves” and even though it has a slow tempo, the audience was comfortable in the pause in pace. This was a show that probably got great reviews from everyone you talked to.
Method Man & Redman
One word – Legends. Drawing both young and old, Wu-Tang’s Method Man, 45, and Def Squad’s Redman, 46 were a highlight of many for the entire weekend of Pemberton. The East Coast rappers brought a classic, and legendary tone to the weekend – making the festival something other than just a trend-setting event but also a culturally relevant one. These two have been around almost as long as I’ve been alive (which is impressive in itself), and their 1999 album, Blackout! was a project that you probably grew up on. Donning long cargo shorts and backwards ball-caps, the two rappers enthusiastically revived the packed audience.
The consensus from their live set was thorough enjoyment from the masses, and they delivered the hits that made them so great. Some of the highlights included, “Time 4 Sum Aksion,” “Ice Cream,” “I’ll Bee Dat” and “All I Need”. It was a reminiscent moment for many concert-goers late on Friday afternoon that drew in the overwhelming crowd. Their set at Bass Camp, was intimate enough to create a personal and hype energy. It’s hard to criticize anything about their set when most were eternally grateful they had the chance to catch the OG’s in action.
While I wasn’t personally able to make it over to catch The Internet in time, our photographer editor, Jamie Sands, was able to catch some snaps of their set and gave me a quick lay-down of the great set that they put on. Word also trickled over from fellow audience members that they delivered an equally quality performance. We had to do them proper and include them in our photo gallery, but if you haven’t gotten acquainted with their material – we highly recommend you do. The neo-soul band is known for bringing emotional lyrics and soulful croons from Syd the Kid and impressive forward-thinking production from Martians (aka Matthew Martin). You probably know their track “Girl” featuring highly-popular producer, Kaytranada. Their 2015 album, Ego Death was a project that recruited other notable acts such as Janelle Monae, and Tyler the Creator.
There are very few artists who get respect across the board from all different type of rap fans. Dreamville’s J. Cole was a smart choice as the rap headliner for day two for obvious reasons. He’s a real G.O.A.T. in terms of being highly acclaimed as one of the best lyrical rappers of our time. He’s been applauded for being a rapper who speaks about honest and real subject matter rather than cultural trends. And honestly, we could go on and on about how his years in the game have established him as an eternally relevant rapper who makes move in his career based on authenticity over popularity (which ironically made him more loved anyways).
This was his second consecutive year at Pemberton, so it was apparent that he’s been recognized for his ability to be a highlight of the weekend as he was placed on the larger Pemberton Stage to take us into the late evening. The release of his 5-part mini-series with HBO following his experiences on the Forest Hills Drive Tour gave him the momentum to keep his touring circuit going. For those of us who missed his performance last year, we were stoked to catch him this time around. And even those who had already caught him were equally excited for his return because of the quality of his live show that’s become public knowledge.
Criticism for this performance was non-existent, because how do you criticize a show that has been perfected to offer the audience everything they could possibly want in a live setting? There was a blend of old and new material that painted a well-balanced overall experience of his musical library, and his interactions with the audience felt more personal than many of the other sets. Maybe it was so enjoyable because his lyrics were some of the most personal and known that we we heard all day, but it could also have been his appreciative commentary to the audience when he exclaimed, “Whether you’ve been a fan since day 1 or you like 1 song – I appreciate all of your faces in front of this stage.”
He moved with comfortable ease on stage for an artist who is relatively private in his personal life. His professionalism in all aspects of his life is something that makes him one of the most favoured rappers I’ve witnessed, both as a performer as well as online as a producer of content. Some of the most enjoyable moments of his set included, “A Tale of 2 Citiez”, “Fire Squad”, “Wet Dreamz”, “Higher”, and “Nobody’s Perfect”. He had the crowd going crazy when he started playing ” No Role Modelz”, and the crowd was a full mixture of women and men, and young and old concert-goers. His audience was also the most diverse of the weekend, and a concert to check off the bucket-list.
Day 2: Photo Gallery
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada