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Favorite ThisKaleidoscope Music Festival Review + Slideshow / Emerald Meadows (Eugene, OR) / Aug 23-25, 2013

Published: August 28, 2013
Photos and story by: Jordan Calvano

Each festival seems to thrive in its own unique way. Some flourish by accumulating jaw-dropping lineups, others develop a bewitching ambiance and unforgettable experience, while certain events pull attendees in by bringing something completely unique to the table. In regards to Kaleidoscope Music Festival, they did all these things. What seemed like a decently impressive lineup after its first announcement eventually turned into something so much more. Sure, they had Bassnectar and a few other good names, but it wasn’t anything THAT special. Then the second announcement came, and then third. By the time the final schedule was released, you were staring and one of the summer’s most diverse and star-studded bills.
The first-year festival presented by OneEleven Productions took place south of Eugene, Oregon at Emerald Meadows, providing attendees with a scenic set of viewpoints wherever they turned. Bright green grass and tree-laden hills served as reminders of the destination’s natural beauty, and stunning sunsets became tradition after the first night. Most impressive though was the ability to watch visceral music that spanned endless genres. Hip-hop, dubstep, trap, indie, bluegrass, house, pop, and trance were just some of the fields present, yet within each genre is where the true magic lay. Legendary rappers like Nas, Aesop Rock, and Souls of Mischief were armed and ready to immerse listeners in classic hip-hop tunes dating back to the early 90’s. On the other hand, concertgoers were also treated to new school artists in the same genus like Schoolboy Q, Blue Scholars, and Tope. Legendary producers like DJ Shadow and Amp Live were present, but so were Manic Focus, GRiZ, and Blue Sky Black Death. This variation is what truly set KMF apart, coalescing old and new to create an unforgettable milieu.
The Music:
Capital Cities (August 23): Following stellar sets from Singularity, Afroman, and gLAdiator, the jubilant crowd was greeted to a massive dance party from Capital Cities. Exactly what the audience needed to spike their energy to all new realms, and everyone in attendance was truly feeling the love. Full-blown smiles filled the mainstage as the 5-piece, live band performed catchy cuts from their debut album like “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo,” and “Safe & Sound” (twice), along with blissful covers of Madonna and The Bee Gees. Whether the group was waving their shirts in the air, jumping into the crowd, or flaunting well-groomed beards, it was clear the entire stage was laughing about something.

MONSTA (August 23): Headed back over to The Prism Stage, the festival’s aura was shifted from joyous to all out madness. MONSTA began their set by droppin’ thunderous bangers for the rowdy audience, focusing on recent remixes of “Trampoline” and “Make It Bun Dem.” Although everything was turned to eleven once their vocalist stepped onto the stage. Skaar’s commanding presence led to unrelenting chaos amongst every section of the crowd, belting his soulful yet menacing vocals on “Messiah” and “Holdin’ On,” along with multiple unreleased tracks. Live vocals, live percussions, and live synths, creating a thrilling amalgam of each member’s respective talents. The trio ended their set with Skrillex & Nero’s remix of “Holdin’ On,” pulsating tremendous drum ‘n’ bass tones across all of Emerald Meadows.

Minnesota (August 24): On the festival’s second day, attendees were treated to the weekend’s most jam-packed schedule. Impressive sets from 11 AM to 4 AM the next morning, leaving absolutely no time to mess around. Robotic Pirate Monkey, Souls of Mischief, and Aesop Rock warmed the crowd up with their respective soundscapes, and that was only the beginning. Within minutes of Minnesota stepping onto the stage he was surging spaced out tunes through the stages’ Funktion-One speakers. Crisp sound, boomin’ bass, and Christian Bauhofer’s electrifying collection of tracks. The redheaded phenom grooved to the beat while massaging the audience’s conscious with ethereal, original tracks like “Purple Daze,” “Float,” “Tokyo,” and “Stardust.” Following this were well-received remixes of Ellie Goulding and Collie Buddz, amongst classic vocal samples from Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang Clan. Each track elevated the dance-floors’ clutter as fans sang louder and louder throughout. 

Manic Focus (August 24): As the night continued to progress, it seemed like each spine-tingling show was getting more and more compelling. DJ Shadow, Keys N Krates, and Nas each educated audiences with their own unique style of live performance, pushing the boundaries and holding nothing back throughout. As the night dwindled down, the best place to post up was undoubtedly Midnight Meadows. Minnesota X Amp Live, Tritonal, and Sound Remedy each performed with endless amounts of energy and a desire to step up the last act. This friendly competition all led to Manic Focus’ laying down one of the weekend’s most sought after sets. The Chicago-based producer busted open the festival’s musical floodgates with stellar mixes of “We Won’t Land” and “Money Ain’t a Thang,” alongside dance-worthy takes on Disclosure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Gary Jules. Most impressive was his use of ubiquitous samples, tossing in vocals from Afroman, Biggie, Nas, Chumbawamba, K.C and The Sunshine Band, C & C Music Factory, Men At Work, and even pieces of “Harlem Shake.” Dancin’ shoes strapped on real tight.

GRiZ (August 25): On KMF’s final day, festivalgoers were faced with relentless doses of Oregon rain. A huge shift from the 90-degree days experienced on Friday and Saturday, in turn causing many of the stages to fall behind schedule. Although regardless of the hectic weather, fans remained active and kept the good vibrations flowing. The storm truly hit its peak when GRiZ popped on stage around 6 PM. The rising star stepped up to the decks, pulled out his shiny gold saxophone, and shouted “It’s fucking pouring, let’s turn this shit up to 40.” Fans responded with a massive uproar, followed by glitched-out anthems like “Gettin’ Live,” “My People,” and “Digital Liberation Is Mad Freedom,” along with an unreleased chune from his upcoming EP. The rain continued to pour as GRiZ spewed out more shell-shocking tracks, helping concertgoers fight the mud with chopped up versions of Flux Pavilion, Damian Marley, and Fatboy Slim to close things out.

Other Standouts: Medium Troy, Fruition, Lotus, Empire of The Sun, Anna Lunoe, Bassnectar, Savoy (Live), and Blue Sky Black Death.

The Moments:
-Afroman showing up late to his set (not surprisingly), then switching back and forth between a double-neck guitar and a 40 Oz throughout.
-Anna Lunoe asking the crowd “To throw a Major Lazer party,” then demanding girls to get on shoulders. They did exactly that, and then some dude started doing handstands on the speakers...while wearing a kilt.
-DJ Shadow’s transition from “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” to “Bugatti.” Look that shit up on his Diplo & Friends Mix (11:00). Trust me. You don’t know what you’re missing.
-Marquese Scott (of Youtube fame) constantly dancing wherever he went. Hanging out during Keys N Krates, while he was walking around. Even while eating Uly’s Tacos.
-Fruition covering Neil Young and “No Diggity.” Also bringing out a massive sex panda on stage in between that. We’ve got pictures to prove.
-Locking our keys in the car with no phone charge in the pouring rain, wearing only shorts and T-shirts. Then having to borrow a charger, find a place to plug in, and sprint a mile in the mud to find the AAA homie. And still only missing about 20 minutes of GRiZ’s set. Clutch.
-Blue Sky Black Death performing to a crowd of about 50 people, most of them sitting, but laying down one of the weekend’s most inspiring and intimate sets of the weekend.
-Hundreds of people chasing and surrounding the car LIL B was being transported in to a different stage shouting “We love you LIL B” and “Where are you going LIL B?” Thank you Based God.
Like any first year festival, there are always a few kinks to work out. Unfortunately for Kaleidoscope, there may have been a few more then expected. Agitated concertgoers frustrated over slashed ticket prices days before the event, artist canceling without any warning, lack of VIP amenities, frustrated homeowners near the grounds, and being inadequately prepared for the rain. A bit unorganized and seemingly understaffed, but the festival worked hard to persevere. As evident throughout the aforementioned review, the event still held together in the end and left most attendees completely satisfied. While the message boards on festival pages often reveal distasteful comments, some deserved and others not so much, it seemed the festival was successful for those who were willing to keep an open mind and stay positive. We can only hope KMF returns next year, because music lovers left with stories to tell, smiles on their faces, and an overwhelming sense of excitement for another spectacular festival in the Pacific Northwest.

Tags: BreaksDrum and BassDubstepGlitchTrapHip HopElectroHardcore