Last weekend I had the opportunity to experience Low End Theory's second annual festival with a stacked line up featuring huge names like Flying Lotus, Earl Sweatshirt, and the all mighty Thundercat. Due to the success of last year's festival at The Echo/Echoplex, it only made sense to go bigger and host this year's event at The Shrine. It featured both a Brainfeeder Stage which was inside of the building and a Smoker's Stage which was out on Royal Street. Plenty of people were shuffling back and forth between the stages to catch every single beat being dropped.
To start out, I went inside to go catch the Low End Theory resident Nocando throw down some of the meanest beats and freestyles that I have heard from him in a while. The occasion was special and you could tell by his excitement just how much this festival meant to him and the LET team. It was like watching year after year of hard work and dedication culminate into a festival set that was the epitome of the LA beat scene.
After jamming out for a while at the Brainfeed stage, I decided to make a visit to the Smoker's Stage to see how the outdoor part of the festival was looking. After making my way through clouds of smoke, I ended up in the front to catch Great Dane's set filled featuring all original music. After jamming out to his bass driven tracks, I then got to witness Stones Throw beat-smith MNDSGN perform a variety of experimental beats that the Smokers Stage could really get down to. The last time I saw MNDSGN was at a Team Supreme show a few years back and at the time it was the most mysterious and intriguing beat set I have heard in a while, but this time it was clear that MNDSGN developed as an artist, interacting more with the crowd by rapping and singing along to his beats.
Walking back inside, I was able to witness the beautiful performance that TEEBS had prepared for this weekend. The visuals were astonishing and the music was dreamy bringing a very mellow atmosphere with it that allowed everyone in the crowd to really connect. Later, Nosaj Thing hit the stage quickly taking off with upbeat electronic tracks to draw the audience in. Then, Nosaj quickly took a sharp turn, morphing the music into a dark, mind numbing beat set with plenty of psychedelic visuals to accompany him.
Making my way out after Nosaj Thing's set, I rushed outside to go see a performance that I have been waiting years to experience. Breezy Lovejoy, now known as Anderson .Paak was performing with his band The Free Nationals and they gave such an amazing show that I felt like I was at a festival 10 times bigger than where I was at. As put by Nocando, Anderson .Paak is one of the most talented people in Los Angeles right now and he made sure to showcase every bit of it in his set. From playing on the drums to singing and rapping all over the stage, it is no wonder that he ended up with multiple credits on Dr. Dre's latest album Compton.
After the smoke cleared and the last performance on the outside stage finished, everybody piled into the building to witness the most anticipated sets of the night. Thundercat went on and shredded it up like no other despite having to fix his bass just hours before the show because of shipping damages. Never in my life have I seen so many insane bass solos and there I was soaking up a 40 minute set of pure jazz bliss. Earl Sweatshirt then took the night to another level, hyping up the crowd with his banging instrumentals and apathetic lyrics. To wrap up the night, Flying Lotus went on with his signature 3D visuals and his overwhelming, heavy psychedelic tracks. You could tell that FlyLo felt right at home and I could only imagine the feeling he had seeing the scene he grew up with develop to the festival level.
Although the festival was only had two stages and was one day long, it was an amazing experience and excellently portrayed how I think a LA beat festival should be thrown. The lineup was more than stacked, tickets were priced fairly and most importantly, the vibes were perfect. Unlike at other festivals, you could feel that everyone there gathered because they really loved the music. I cannot wait to see how much next years festival will have grown.
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Photographer: Nikki Durso
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