It was an uncharacteristically cold and cloudy day in downtown Los Angeles as LA3C kicked off its inaugural festival on Saturday, but that didn’t stop thousands of attendees from flocking to Los Angeles State Historic Park for the event, albeit a bit more bundled than usual for festival attire.
The music itself is only one aspect of LA3C, which was founded to celebrate the creative culture of Los Angeles. The event also looked to exhibit LA’s food and art scene, featuring local vendors like Lil Bobacita and Cena Vegan, along with art installations from prominent LA artists such as Patrick Martinez and Tiffany Alfonseca. The festival is owned and promoted by Rolling Stone’s parent company Penske Media Corporation, and several PMC brands put on events of their own, which featured panel discussions from Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, as well as Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Hanks.
Check back tomorrow for our coverage on festival sets from Maluma, Snow Tha Product and more.
Lil Baby is Pretty in Pink
Lil Baby started his headlining set about 25 minutes late, cutting into his slot as a whole, but by the time he took the stage, the Atlanta rapper wasted little time blazing through from one track to the next. Baby, who replaced Megan Thee Stallion just a few weeks ago to headline the festival, descended from a large staircase at the center of the stage to begin the concert, flanked by dancers in booty shorts on both of his sides.
Wearing a pair of pink pants adorned with silver stars and a matching pink puffer jacket — along with an extremely glitzy diamond chain, some equally shiny rings and bracelets — Baby kicked off his set with his verse from Drake’s “Wants and Needs”. A few songs later, he leapt into his 2018 Gunna collaboration “Drip Too Hard,” following with “My Dawg,” “On Me” and “Yes Indeed”, another Drake collaboration. Even without the rapper actually joining Baby for his set, Drake was heavily peppered throughout the concert as Baby also played Certified Lover Boy’s “Girls Want Girls.”
Baby wasn’t too talkative throughout his set, though he did tell the crowd “Emotionally Scarred” had become one of his favorite songs to perform, and it certainly was one of the high points of the show.
Snoop Dogg, preceded by… Jane Goodall?
LA3C may be the only festival that could boast that Jane Goodall warmed up a crowd for Snoop Dogg. The celebrated anthropologist and world’s authority on primates took to the main stage about 15 minutes before Snoop’s set. “Don’t forget, every single one of you makes an impact on the planet every single day,” Goodall said, encouraging the crowd to make more ethical decisions regarding the environment to combat climate changes together, we can make a difference. Together we can, together we will, together we must change the world.”
Just A few minutes later, Snoop was rapping “The Next Episode” while a couple scantily-clad dancers spun on stripper poles on both sides of the stage. Wearing a black shirt and pants along with a gold jacket and bejeweled Pac-Man ghost necklace, Snoop, an LA icon himself, seemed to draw the largest crowd of the day. And only something that could be said in 2022, by the time Snoop was playing “Gin and Juice,” he’d brought out a costumed dancer who was dressed as his Bored Ape NFT, Dr. Bombay. Snoop and Bombay both threw money at the crowd and grinded with the dancers during “I Wanna Love You,” Snoop’s 2006 song with Akon.
Snoop paid homage to Biggie Smalls, covering “Hypnotize,” then gave his respects to Tupac with “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” Snoop finished with “the national anthem” as he called it with “Young, Wild and Free” and a brief rendition of “Snoopy Don’t Go.”
It was nearly impossible to be anywhere in the festival grounds without being in proximity to someone or something that depicted one of the 13 members of K-Pop sensations Seventeen. “We’ve been looking forward to today, so let’s have fun tonight,” said lead vocalist Jeonghan. A sentiment surely shared by carats (as their fans are known) who camped as early as the night before to secure a prime viewing spot for the supergroup’s return to LA.
“HOT” kicked off their hour-long set before breaking into their smaller hip-hop, vocal and performance units showcasing the groups versatility in sound and choreography with tracks like “Left & Right,” “_World,” and the audience-requested pop-punk leaning “Rock With You.” They also packed in a surprise for the festival — a rare live-choreographed performance of “Cheers” by the leader unit, which caused fans to release an unending chamber of screams and show out their merch light sticks.
While their stage banter took up more than a few extra minutes, the crowd didn’t seem to mind as they used that time to inform the crowd of future plans like their prompt return to Korea post-performance, as well as alluding to an expected return to LA in 2023. Before calling it quits on their set, a near 10-minutes early, the band says farewell by performing “Very Nice” – in their traditional “Aju Nice” goodbye style. Think of an Irish goodbye – but instead of trying to leave unnoticed, you leave very noticeably by pretending to say bye and then returning to perform a full chorus of a song. Six times to be exact.
The Funk of the Free Nationals
Bringing the same groovy, R&B jams that have so heavily lined Anderson .Paak’s albums, the Free Nationals — .Paak’s often backing band — gave one of the more eclectic sets of the night, from soulful guitar lines and chimes to talk box vocals.
While the the group didn’t bring any surprise guests (guitarist José Rios said .Paak was going to join but couldn’t), their set further reinforced their status as one of the most sought after modern funk bands in the business, with most of the songs they played on stage originally being collaborations with major artists. Among their highlights was their opener, “Beauty and Essex,” which features Daniel Caesar on the recording, as well as “Time,” — the band’s collaboration with Kali Uchis and Mac Miller — and “Gidget,” their 2019 song with .Paak.
HIN STAGE ends the night with a house party
The second stage housed DJs throughout festival hours but gained the most traction toward the final DJs’ sets, which transformed the area into backyard house parties. Known for pioneering LA bedroom-pop, Cuco spun a DJ set reminiscent of a Quinceañera playlist, making it quite apparent he marked the day’s only Latine representation. Under his watch, no hit went unturned as his set incorporated Latine classic staples from Los Angeles Azules to Celso Pina to Sonora Dinamita.
Two highlights took place as he spun Los Tucanes De Tijuana’s “La Chona” that inspired a conga line, and “Payaso De Rodeo” by Caballo Dorado that prompted a traditional accelerated line dance. Towards the end of his set, he announced having no intentions of playing his songs, let alone performing them despite stepping down from the booth and performing “Bossa No Se” and his breakthrough hit “Amor de Siempre” before the festival lowered his mic and he gracefully bowed out. “I don’t DJ too often so I didn’t anticipate much of a turn out, but thank you for being here!”
Shortly after, the audience grew for the following set by DJ Mustard as the night’s mainstage performances came to a close. As he took the stage, light rain began to fall but didn’t hinder many attendees from leaving the party. He began to mix through a non-stop set that included his own produced hits like YG’s “Who Do You Love?,” Tyga’s “Rack City” and 2Chainz “I’m Different,” as well as opting to include tracks by other producers that are ingrained into LA’s urban culture like Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up” and Bad Bunny’s “Titi Me Pregunto.”
While he undeniably brought heat to the end of the night, including bringing out Ty Dolla $ign to perform “Paranoid,” “Me And My Friends” and “Or Naw,” after the rapper announced an after party would be taking place for the ladies in the audience, a bad taste was left that no amount of pyro, lasers or fog machines could cover up. Leaving his set begged the question – with so much available material, from his own catalog to that of other LA producers, was it really necessary to include three Kanye West tracks? A questionable choice that tainted an otherwise enjoyable set.
KYLE Hangs Ten
If there’s one thing SuperDuperKyle locked down, it was packing in all of the Los Angeles vibes into his set through and through. From the digital palm trees that infiltrated much of his backing graphics to the largely embroidered “CALIFORNIA” across his blue sweatshirt, the recently independent rapper did not shy away from repeatedly sharing how much he loved his home state. “I love love love love you LA,” he shared variations of during his anecdotes between songs like “Perfect,” “Doubt It,” and “Playinwitme” that were energetically delivered. The rapper brought out Sophia Black for her second appearance of the day to perform single “Ikuyo.”
Before walking off stage, Kyle made sure to deliver one of the more entertaining moments of the day with a good surf session. Proving he didn’t need to be oceanside to catch a wave, the coined happy rapper from the Super Duper collective ended his set with his biggest hit “iSpy” by jumping off stage, grabbing a hot pink surfboard and making his way on top of the crowd to bring a new lliteral meaning to crowd surfing.
Shawn Wasabi’s Virtual Reality
Hitting play on the nostalgic tonal startup sound of a PS2 console is definitely one way to signal the start of a festival. For YouTuber-turned-gaming-focused experimental producer Shawn Wasabi, it was the only way before delivering a set straight out of a retro arcade.
Harry Styles Grammys Dancers Say Set Malfunction Forced Them to ‘Reverse’ Performance Live
Pink Floyd Lyricist Calls Roger Waters ‘Putin Apologist' and ’Lip-Synching' Misogynist
Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor Greene Raise Hell Over Sam Smith's Grammys Performance
Kyrie Irving, the NBA’s Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief, Is Back on His Bullshit
Choosing to start his set with an unreleased song while wearing a Santa hat, Wasabi moved through a blend of his hyper-melodic tracks that use everything from 8-bit melodies to the iPhone default alarm ringtone to his own inventive midi fighter 64 system. A performance wrapped around technology and nostalgia, he even blended in a few danceable moments with mashups that included samples like Venga Boys’ “We Like To Party” and Darude’s “Sandstorm.”
Illustrating a niche and unique blend of internet culture, Wasabi’s soundtrack came complete with gaming visuals inspired by playful world’s like Mario Kart to his own gaming world of Mangotale before wrapping up his set by sharing the stage with what he states is one of his best friends, Sophia Black, although noting shortly after that this was the first time they’ve met in person. “How many people played Animal Crossing during the pandemic?” a question that garnered a loud agreeing response from the early forming audience before the duo performed their hit single by the same name live for the first time as scenes from the popular video game streamed behind them.