Photos by Sarah Ragan
With the combination of warm spring days, chilly nights and rolling hillsides covered with the colors of spring, Counterpoint could have been located in a more idyllic location for what would turn out to be a fun and unique experience. Tens of thousands rolled into the festival grounds on day one and began setting up camp. Friends and strangers alike mingled in the car lines and with their neighbors throwing footballs and Frisbees or just making new friends. The first day shows started around 4pm and ended with the silent disco at 5am.
The Day 1 lineup prepared you for the exciting weekend to come. Performances by Big Gigantic, Papadosio, and Pretty Lights showed off the genre of Livetronica music. The Big Gigantic Duo of Dominic Lalli (saxophone/producer) and Jeremy Salken (drums) had their set around 7:45pm and started the weekend off right showing the crowd what their music is all about: going Big and Gigantic. Currently promoting their new album The Night is Young, I was blown away by their ability on stage to seamlessly combine their talents on live instruments and the electronic beats that accompany them. Big Gigantic delivered in both sound and sight throughout the set and set the bar high for the rest of the performances. I also took advantage of being able to listen to new artists I had never heard of before. Papadosio was one of them. One of the more unique groups at Counterpoint in my opinion, I enjoyed the combination of more classic band instruments such as guitar, bass and drums with the combination of newer electronic sounds and beats which allowed for a unique listening experience. Always a favorite of mine, Pretty Lights came on at 10:00pm with his live jazz band and showed that EDM is more than just lights and beats by adding a level of complexity that can only be achieved by instruments. When the night started to turn chilly and dancing was more of a technique to stay warm, Krewella came on to finish out the day. With the combination of fast beats, high energy lyrics and the crowd knowing the songs it was a great set to round out the day and get you pumped for the rest of the weekend.
With the combination of St. Lucia, Janelle Monae, Thriftworks, Kill Paris, GRiZ and Shpongle, Saturday was the most diverse and was the most stacked in terms of attracting anyone outside of the EDM scene. Adding elements of indie music to Counterpoint, St. Lucia kicked off Day 2 with their combination of indie tone and electric energy. Relatively new, they were able to sell themselves on the stage they were given. Janelle Monae was not just a music performance but a theatrical performance as well. With an outstanding performance and a great introduction for old and new fans alike, I did not feel the performance melded well with the rest of the festival weekend, so I moved on to Thriftworks who brought an entire dance crew to accompany his set. While entranced in the music, you couldn’t help but notice the dancers who perfectly complimented his music, and you could tell they were having a blast on stage while engaging the crowd in a way that Thriftworks music might not have been able to do on its own. As night began to fall, Kill Paris came out with their and primed the EDM crowd for the high energy night ahead. GRiZ came to the stage at 9:45pm and killed it with his own version of funky, high energy Livetronica music and light show. If there was one performance of the weekend that demanded a larger stage, GRiZ was it as he was able to get the entire crowd moving and kept it going throughout his entire set. Shpongle (Simon Posford) rounded out the night with psychedelic music and allowed the crowd to go into a trance and wind down slowly after the long, active day of music and constantly moving trying to see every show.
After two long days of dancing, new music and meeting new friends, the last day had finally arrived; the day Outkast would have their performance, but not before we would hear from Yacht, Thievery Corporation and Major Lazer. Yacht came out early in the day and gave the crowd a daytime performance of electropop. The difference of yacht and other musicians of the weekend was that although a large crowd did not show for them like other performances, they were able to engage the crowd a little more by making comments on homemade signs and costumes. Major Lazer was as high energy and entertaining as it got during the weekend with one of the largest and high energy crowds showing up (partially due to anticipation of Outkast). His performance was unique with the combination of reggae and dance music. Of course the song “Bubble Butt” got the whole crowd moving and he even allowed some of the crowd to get on stage. This performance allowed for a great opener for Outkast who would come on next. Outkast came on a little late compared to their original start time due to stage setup, but they opened up with “B.O.B.” which got the crowd moving with a sense of nostalgia that only Outkast could provide. After a few songs, they played “Hey-Ya” which was of course a crowd pleaser and the highlight of their performance in my opinion.
Aside from music and all this was also my first camping music festival, so of course I had to do some exploring and meet some new friends. The layout of Counterpoint was very good with the campgrounds at the bottom of the hill. Walking up the hill, you are greeted by a flat area where they served food and had some shops including a place where you could buy a portable rechargeable battery pack for the weekend (this is crucial and necessary for any festival-goer). Independent artists and non-profit tents that were setup added to the good vibes that Counterpoint came with and allowed for meeting new like-minded people who could quickly become friends. I was lucky enough to be able to go to Counterpoint when it is fairly new, and I cannot wait to go next year and see how it progresses and develops.