Festival Review: JMBLYA 2014 (Dallas)
Review and Photos by Ben Oliver
The second annual Jambalaya fest (now simply abbreviated to JMBLYA), kicked off Friday, May 2nd in Dallas. The sold out event was nearly flawless as thousands of young people enjoyed live music on a great, sunny day. Created and produced by our favorite hip-hop show promoters in Texas, Score More, there were only a few small bumps along the way, we will cover the good, the bad and the ugly! Last year’s initial event in 2013 had a great turn out, so we were curious how moving the gathering to an outside venue would change it.
The schedule for the day didn’t get released until literally just a few hours before the event. I was totally unaware that local rapper Dustin Cavazos was scheduled to appear. I was really looking forward to seeing hip-hop acts Denzel Curry and The Underachievers perform, and tried rushing there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it seemed the only consideration the schedule was given was to high school students, who mostly made up the all ages mass. The early schedule was probably due to the event being held outside, it must have required an earlier curfew to end by. I was lucky enough to get there just as Cashmere Cat (who I also had hoped to see) was ending his set, right before RiFF RAFF took the stage.
(RiFF RAFF) For Fans Of: MellowHype, Freddie Gibbs, Lil B, Action Bronson, A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown
One of the highlights I had been anticipating was Houston rapper and cultural icon RiFF RAFF aka Jody Highroller. This would mark the internet personality’s only third time in the metroplex. He is, like many other celebrities, without doubt a polarizing figure: people either love him or can’t stand him. Score More knows what they are doing when it comes to booking, and this crowd couldn’t get enough of the pop sensation. His setlist included tracks such as “How To Be The Man”, “Dolce & Gabbana”, and even a new one called “Instagram”. The fast rising superstar even jumped into the crowd to take some selfies during his new track, which features a sample by Trinidad James. The best part of his show were the huge, giant paper heads of his pet Jody Husky, the Neon Icon cover art, and even included his girlfriend Katy Perry that were held by some of his crew members who marched around stage.
(GRiZ) For Fans Of: Big Gigantic, Pretty Lights, Paper Diamond, Break Science, Minnesota, Gramatik
Next up was Detroit DJ/EDM artist GRiZ, performing his version of IDM (intelligent dance music). Stylistically, he creates bass infused hip-hop, electro soul, and future funk sounding productions often accompanied by the live performance and recording of his Alto Saxophone and the use of an array of vinyl samples. GRiZ is no stranger to the festival scene, having already made appearances at both Electric Forest and Coachella. He has also toured with both Big Gigantic and Bassnectar. This audience was filled with lovers of both rap and electronic music, who all seemed to thoroughly enjoy his enthusiastic and energetic slot.
(Purity Ring) For Fans Of: Chvrches, Danny Brown, Baths, Phantogram, Grimes, Cults
Montreal duo Purity Ring took the stage right on time for their DJ set. They were the wild card of the lineup, only since they weren’t rappers or DJs. I also wasn’t quite sure how many times they had performed at gigs like this before. They began a little bit awkward at first, with Corin spinning and Megan standing next to him. She seemed out of place and switched between just watching and dancing. As time went on, she became more comfortable, less awkward, and they got into their zone. They spun tracks by Wiz Khalifa, Mike Will Made It, Azealia Banks, Le1f, Ludacris, and more. The longer their set went, the better it got and the more everyone got into it.
(A$AP Ferg) For Fans Of: Dom Kennedy, A$AP Rocky, ScHoolboy Q, Juicy J, Pusha T, Trinidad James
A$AP Ferg has been gaining and growing in popularity over the past year. He didn’t disappoint anyone and probably even surprised many. The crowd had been steadily growing in size and energy, and was probably most noticeable during this time. Just a few minutes before he came out, they were pushing and moving the two barricades up front near the stage. The security had to rush over and quickly reinforce the gates, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. They got lucky I was really worried there was going to be an accidental injury or worse.
Ferg came out and just like an A$AP Mob member immediately worked everyone up into a frenzied mob, even wasting a couple bottles of champagne by spraying them on everyone up front. He only performed two or three tracks before leaping into the crowd and crowd surfing. He was also encouraging a mosh pit to form. He got lost in the rowdy audience for several minutes before re-emerging on stage with his Shaba Ranks T-shirt ripped from the experience. The Harlem rapper executed his most popular cuts including “Work”, “Murda Something”, “Cocaine Castle”, and “Shabba”, among others. One of my favorite moments was when he asked how many aspiring rappers were in the crowd. He randomly picked one from the crowd, named Scott, and brought him on stage. After explaining that A$AP stands for always strive and prosper, he gave him a chance to shine by letting him freestyle for a few minutes. He didn’t get crushed by the pressure and was able to hold his own, and the place erupted.
(Baauer X RL Grime) For Fans Of: Diplo, Flosstradamus, Bro Safari, Hudson Mohawke, Zeds Dead, Ryan Hemsworth
Baauer and RL Grime were the last EDM act of the evening, and Score More saved the best for last. The outdoor park had swelled close to its largest size at this point. There were people and bodies dancing alone, together, and in groups anywhere they could find a spot. These are two artists who are both wildly successful in their own rights, coming together as friends to put on one hell of a great show. This was due not only to their great music but their chemistry together. Anyone that thinks DJ’s aren’t really artists would have a problem explaining the strong connection their fan base was feeling. It was difficult to look around and see anyone not dancing, and if they weren’t they were in the minority. They had a near perfect time slot as they were not only opening for Chance The Rapper, but also provided the soundtrack to the sunset. And yes, of course they played “Infinite Daps”.
(Chance The Rapper ) For Fans Of: Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Travi$ Scott, Childish Gambino, Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies
Score More understands the importance of staying on schedule, so we didn’t have to wait long for the Chicago headliner, Chance The Rapper to come out and own the stage. Expectations were sky high (as were most in attendance), with the fast rising hip-hop phenomenon slated for his first very performance after missing his second weekend at Coachella. Chance was even forced by his staff and family to postpone some recent tour dates before this. He had also just leaked a brand new track just a few days before. This was his second appearance in Dallas, the first was last year opening for Mac Miller.
The atmosphere was turned up as Chance came out with his live four piece band, The Social Experiment. They are made up of a guitarist, drummer, keyboard player, and trumpet player. His set list included “Good Ass Intro”, “Everybody’s Something”, “Pusha Man”, “Smoke Again”, “Lost”, “Brain Cellls”, “Favorite Song”, “Cocoa Butter Kisses”, “That’s Love”, “Paradise”, and “Paranoia”. It was obvious who the majority were here to see. Although most of the night was smooth and not many glitches, his set endured some sound/technical difficulties at the start. Chance’s energy still didn’t seem all the way up to par, he didn’t seem to be 100% back to his normal self yet. That being said, he was able to overcome both the audio and health issues to deliver a staggering display of swagger. Even when he isn’t at his best, he is still far better than many other rappers. One of the best moments was when he brought out some CVS bags on stage and tossed a shit load of candy (jolly ranchers and now n laters) to those in attendance. There were even several dozen onlookers watching the performance outside of the venue looking in.