Pemberton Music Festival 2014: Saturday, Part 2 – The Flaming Lips, Deadmau5, Flying Lotus, Girl Talk, Chance the Rapper, AraabMuzik, and more

all photos by Dave Lichterman

Up above Whistler in British Columbia, Pemberton Music Festival triumphantly returns this year for the first time since 2008. This year, the festival features one of the best overall music and comedy lineups of the year, and we are proud to provide coverage through photos and summaries all weekend.

It never ceases to amaze me how much love the Flaming Lips have to offer their fans in the live setting. Battling sound with Snoop Dogg on Saturday evening was no problem for them or their massive crowd. With each marvelous track of their extremely festival-friendly set, everything else seemed to fade away, and there was only the band, the stage, and the crowd. The Flaming Lips’ music echoed through the valley and up over the mountains and everything was grand. Wayne Coyne remarked over and over again that this was one of the most beautiful settings possible. Meanwhile, the crowd facing the opposite direction of the band agreed completely.

The Flaming Lips have shifted membership a bit in the last couple years. The addition of Derek Brown helped give The Terror fleshed out life when the band toured the record last year, and now, additional backing musicians brought songs both new and old to new levels of live realization. The Lips didn’t pull out a song past 2003 until halfway through the set. “The Abandoned Hospital Ship” and “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” were warmly welcomed inclusions from the 90s Lips catalogue, while a rousing cover of The Chemical Brothers classic “The Golden Path” became a massive all crowd sing-along and dance party. The Lips broke into At War With The Mystics material with a Wayne-bubble crowd walk to “Vein of Stars”. Then after a stage reset, the band dived head first into The Terror with “Look… The Sun is Rising”. Bizarre and arresting visuals abounded throughout. For older material, the Lips featured a near-endless number of inflatable friends, some possessed by fans pulled from the crowd (including the cartoon hills at Wayne’s feet). For The Terror, Wayne revived the metallic blue suit and the life-giving baby routine atop a massive tower of light. And it goes without saying that all of this was covered in a small forest’s worth of confetti.

After a showy but uncharacteristically dark tour for The Terror, it’s fun to see the Lips return to the happy-go-lucky grooves of their past. Hearing and seeing Michael Ivins rip out that bass hook on “In The Morning of Magicians” and hearing Steven Drozd riff endlessly on “The Golden Path” and “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” were treats we forgot the sweetness of. While Wayne remained the center of positive energy and visual attention, the balance between original members was very well placed, with Steven rotating between instruments and Michael getting to rip out some serious classics (including “The W.A.N.D.” and that ridiculously fun breakdown on “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton”). Altogether, the set list was a ball for the band and the crowd. Ending in a fiery cover of Beatles classic “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (perhaps to remind us that the band will release their collaborative cover album of Sgt. Pepper in the coming months), the Lips filled the Pemberton valley with happiness and proved once again that love is the most powerful weapon.

The Flaming Lips:

Rising Chicago hip-hop star Chance the Rapper took the Bass Camp stage Saturday evening to an expectedly massive crowd. With two self-released mixtapes, Chance has taken the world by storm, bringing an eclectic flow and a vibrant production lineup that works as a love letter to his city in a dozen different shades. On stage, Chance is an easy sell for a festival. With his backing band the Social Experiment, Chance blasted through the majority of his Acid Rap tape as well as a handful of newer tracks like “I Am Very Very Lonely” in dazzling style. In between tracks, Chance kept the crowd at voracious levels of intensity with a boatload of banter and a grab bag of different crowd participation tricks for different songs. Chance’s sociologically inclined methods did the trick – not once did he lose the crowd’s attention in his hour-long set. As time goes on, the young emcee only seems to get better at putting his best traits on display on stage, and Chance’s Pemberton appearance is no exception.

Chance The Rapper:

The Pemberton grounds saw absolute silence for the first time since the beginnings at 9:30pm on Saturday night, as Metric, Chance, and the New Pornographers finished up their sets and the lights went down at the main stage. After a number of fantastic dance sets this weekend, it was time for attendees to pay respects to the godfather of the modern EDM scene. Deadmau5 recently announced that his time headlining festivals will soon be over, as he sees the best place for showcasing his ambitious live show to be in a more focused arena. But Joel Zimmerman has done so much to push forward and shape the EDM and dance festival presentation and experience that it was a pleasure to see one of his (supposedly) last festival outings here at Pemberton.

All of the above being the case, Deadmau5’s set was pretty fantastic. Adorned in his typical mouse mask and surrounded by enough lights to give a small city power for a year, Deadmau5 threw a spectacle of an audio/visual experience. The set was a sweeping mixture of material from Zimmerman’s last three records, with much from the new, critically acclaimed double album while(1<2). In recent years, Deadmau5 has strayed further and further from the straightforward house-tinged grooves of his early records and attempted to make continuous mix records that explore a foray of incongruous sounds. Tonight, mixing both new and old, Deadmau5 appealed to fans of every era, while still giving everyone something completely new. “Just press play” or not, Deadmau5 has a gift for creating a seamless, interactive, and engaging experience, and that’s why he’s up on the top of the podium. Deadmau5 arrived and conquered Saturday night, converting the naysayers and putting on an unforgettable display of visual fireworks that won’t soon be forgotten.

Deadmau5:

As the saying goes, after the party there’s the after-party, and that’s exactly what Pittsburg producer Girl Talk threw at the stroke of midnight. Girl Talk is another one of the festival must-have’s appearing at Pemberton this year. In recent years, Greg Gillis has moved into more traditional hip-hop production, working with rappers like Freeway, Jim Jones, and Waka Flocka Flame, using the sampling techique he’s dialed in for a decade to bring a fresh perspective to beat making. But in the live setting, Girl Talk knows that his mastery of mashups still makes for one of the best parties there is out there. Fans of every band under the sun can find a split second moment in a Girl Talk show where their song is played and morphed into something they never thought possible, and that moment is the one worth waiting for. Plus, with Greg’s usual mob of dancing fans on stage with him, it’s impossible not to want to join in the chaos and fun. Girl Talk followed up Deadmau5 with comparative ease, and the massive crowd of fans singing along to Biggie, Kelly Clarkson, and everyone in between had almost as much fun as Greg did.

Girl Talk:

For those who preferred a moodier late night experience, LA producer and rapper Flying Lotus took the stage at the Bass Camp and spun an excellent set of psychedelic genre-bending electronic music until he was almost forcibly removed from the stage. With his Layer 3 light setup and an armada of eclectic tracks at his disposal, Stephen Ellison moved excellently between his own tripped-out hip-hop experiments and some complimentary party tracks to spice things up a bit in between. Ellison even broke out his Captain Murphy persona on a couple tracks, rapping from behind his three dimensional light wall while handling the track mix and transitions with his other hand. Flying Lotus is one of those guys whose talents seem to have no end. While the producer has already garnered the appreciation and friendship of the likes of Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, his growing talents as a rapper make him a pretty formidable force to deal with on stage. By the end of his hour long set, the massive crowd was begging for more. Against the wishes of the stage crew, Ellison dropped one more track – the TNGHT-riding version of “Shake Weight” – and clambered off the stage to rap right up in the face of the whole front show. A marvelous ending to a fantastic show for both Ellison and the crowd, Flying Lotus brought his A-game to Pemberton and made it count.

The fun continues tomorrow! See the full set of Saturday photos here and check back to the KEXP blog for more coverage of Pemberton Music Festival 2014!

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