The Sound on Sound festival finally got Young Thug to the stage Sunday night.
Four and a half hours after his rain-soaked time slot, the Atlanta rapper closed the punk-spirited music weekend with a breakneck 40 minutes of soaring — commercially booming — Atlanta rap music beginning around 12:30 a.m. As lightning forced sudden Sherwood Forest evacuations earlier, and high-profile performers like Washington, D.C., rapper Wale canceled amid travel issues, organizers finished the chaotic Sunday with a major-league coup.
Sure, we lost a lot of good music fans out there.
Yet Young Thug onstage seemed pleased by the thin leftover herd of believers in McDade, Texas, who had previously stuck with the Dragon’s Lair stage and enjoyed essential, willing, quarter-filled performances from iconic post-rockers Explosions In the Sky, delightfully brash indie fuzz rock from Aussie songwriter Courtney Barnett, and a reunion set from turn-of-the-century emo legends Thursday.
By 7:30 p.m. the rain cleared and the lingering acts resumed amid logistical delays. (Bob Mould, Big Freedia, STRFKR among the biggest names who performed late.) Only ‘90s Austin noise rockers Cherubs braved the downpour and performed during it.
Wearing bling, shades, grey sweatpants and a denim jacket, Young Thug performed a live rundown of his abundant back catalog that was so robust — gems from “Slime Season 3,” 2014’s best rap single “Lifestyle”— that the 25-year-old rapper born Jeffery Williams enjoyed the luxury of ignoring most of his breakthrough new album. A young man in a taco costume danced with purpose, mosh pits and crowd-surfers sprung to life, two ceremonial piñatas were torn to pieces and flung in the air.
“I want to come down with y’all,” Thugger said, confused but apparently inspired to join the fun. “How do I get down?”
Festival staffers told Austin360 that the lighting scrims — essentially giant drapes adorning the main stage — soaked with water and drowned out speakers. They were hurriedly broken down while Geoff Rickly, Thursday’s singer, watched smartphone weather radar backstage and considered scrapping his band’s reunion appearance altogether.
Forty minutes after the rescheduled evening timeslot, Thursday made it to the Dragon’s Lair stage —but with an optimistic explanation from Rickly: “Everything is f**king broken. Everybody still really wants to play. It’s going to sound like absolute s**t, but who f**king cares?”
Staffers got the band’s PA fixed three songs in, after their compromise to only “play the old songs that never sounded good,” as Rickly put it.
In the forest, vendors gamely continued selling Indian food and brisket. Vodka sponsors reportedly gave away free ponchos. Shuttle service resumed after the delay. Programming updates came via onstage messengers and rampant social media interaction with fans from Sound on Sound’s Twitter account.
“Man this really is a magical place,” STRFKR singer Joshua Hodges commented about the Renaissance-tinged forest, as his dance band pulsed along complete with five backup dancers dressed like astronauts.
A few minutes later across the park, Courtney Barnett brushed off breaking a guitar pedal onstage, before thanking “everybody working and volunteering,” and riffing “Happy Birthday” to an audience member who pointed out the occasion.
The night’s most thematically resonant band — big sky instrumentalists Explosions In the Sky — rearranged clouds with walloping waves of sound. Most famous for inspiring the “Friday Night Lights” score, gleeful attendees pantomimed football during “Your Hand In Mine.”
“It really means a lot that you stick around,” singer Munaf Rayani said at the end.