Pop Break Live: Re: SET Concert Series featuring LCD Soundsystem, Steve Lacey, James Blake, Jamie xx (DJ Set), Big Freedia, IDLES, Toro y Moi, Foushee at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena
Live music has been going through a bit of a transition period these days. After the pandemic drastically affected the music industry in every aspect – from the cost of tickets, artists struggling to make ends meet to tour, and the Ticketmaster of it all – it’s been interesting to watch how major brands like Goldenvoice and AEG have been pivoting. And the best example of a pivot that has completely paid off is the Re:SET Concert Series, a unique approach to live music that brings a dozen artists to a dozen cities across the United States this summer through a fun, traveling-festival format.
Re:SET kicked off the first day of its traveling summer tour on the West Coast with artists Steve Lacy, James Blake, Toro y Moi, and Foushee playing in Los Angeles; artists Boygenius, Dijon, Bartees Strange, and Clairo playing in San Diego; and artists LCD Soundsystem, Jamie xx, Idles, and Big Freedia playing in the Bay Area. Over the three-day weekend, each pod of artists would switch to the next West Coast city, allowing fans in any given location the ability to catch every artist in their city if they snagged a three-day pass. The recipe for the festival is brilliant, and offers an incredible experience that manages to give each music act time to rest and recuperate on the road, and offers fans the opportunity to catch wide-ranging acts in ideal festival circumstances. A fun twist to the lineup is knowing that each day’s headliner also played a big part in curating the acts opening for them.
We were able to catch Day 1 and Day 3 of Re:SET Los Angeles at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and couldn’t recommend the concert series enough. On Friday, R&B singer Fousheé kicked off the afternoon with a beautiful set that highlighted her angelic, Mariah Carey-esque vocal range that perfectly paired with her dance beats. She did a touching cover of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” that brought a fun energy to the classic track. Her long blonde hair danced in the wind and reflected off the mirrors that she situated around the stage. Later, Toro y Moi gave an understated performance that brought an easy, breezy vibe to the festival. Because each day featured only four artists, every act played on a single stage, removing the dreaded time slot conflicts that everyone hates at festivals, and gave fans the opportunity to get drinks and food from local eateries in between sets relatively stress-free.
After Toro y Moi, singer-songwriter James Blake ushered in the sunset over the Brookside grounds with his soulful voice and bass-heavy tunes. His silhouette shone from behind his keyboard, making him glow a soft red-orange as the sun shined over the mountains and the grounds started filling out completely with fans. Mid-set, he stopped and restarted a gentle cover of Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll Be Happier” when the soundsystem was giving him odd feedback. Fans were lucky to catch the live debut of new song, “Hummingbird,” a collaboration with Metro Boomin of which is heavily featured in Across the Spiderverse.
As the headliner of the evening, curator of the whole day of music, and undeniable hero of the night, Steve Lacy emerged from smoke and the crowd – which mostly consisted of young people – absolutely lost it. His hop-hop inspired guitar work and atmospheric stage design of tall LCD screens made for a great auditory and visual show. Performing tracks from his Grammy-winning record Gemini Rights just at the launch of Gemini season in the astrological chart felt like the perfect note to end the summer-y Day 1 of Re:SET.
While we did not cover Day 2 of Re:SET in Pasadena, headliners Boygenius curated a gentle festival lineup in line with their sound, including Clairo, Dijon, and Bartees Strange. In what was inarguably the most diverse and interesting lineup of the weekend, Day 3 featured headliners LCD Soundsystem curating a day of acts that included gender nonconforming rapper Big Freedia, British punk rockers Idles, and electronic DJ Jamie xx. Each act felt like a great representation of the festival ethos: a uniquely curated experience for music fans.
Kicking off the final day of Re:SET on the West Coast, New Orleans-based rapper Big Freedia, who identifies as nonbinary and does not use pronouns, came out with an immediate burst of energy. Big Freedia sang a track whose refrain repeated, “Ass everywhere, ass ass everywhere” and invited everyone in the front row to grab the railing and make their booties pop. Only four songs in the set and practically the entire crowd was on-board for a great time. Freedia’s DJ and dancers hyped up the crowd with color-coordinated orange jumpsuits and danced across every inch of the stage.
Shifting gears entirely, rock band Idles took the crowd in a different direction with their hardcore, high-energy punk set. Guitarist Lee Kiernan jumped into the crowd during only the second song because a sizable mosh pit had started that resulted in full beer cans flying through the air and limbs wrapping around guitar cords. The band’s other guitarist Mark Bowen performed in a comfortable-looking white summer dress as lead singer Joe Talbot banged his chest with every word during “Colossus.” They ended their set on the perfect note, saying, “We’ve been Idles, you’ve been magic, good night.”
Later in the evening, Jamie xx of group The xx brought everything from disco vibes and techno dance, to jazzy numbers and fun singalongs during his DJ set. A giant disco ball spun behind him as huge screens projected trippy visuals of dancing men and abstract shapes on the stage. His performance set the perfect stage for indie rock legends LCD Soundsystem to close out the first weekend of Re:SET.
Coming out 5 minutes early and playing almost 10 minutes beyond their time, LCD Soundsystem tore through their almost-two hour set with incredible joy. Singer James Murphy seemed to be in high spirits as keyboardist Nancy Wong tossed her bobbed hair back and forth with every beat. In addition to playing classics “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” and “You Wanted a Hit,” LCD gave well-earned love to tracks from their tremendous 2017 record, American Dream and even their newest song, “new body rhumba,” which was heavily featured in the postmodern Noah Baumbach film White Noise.
LCD Soundsystem closed out the uniquely special concert experience with five straight bangers back to back to back to back to back: “Losing My Edge,” “Home,” “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down,” “Dance Yrself Clean,” and “All My Friends.” The Brookside festival grounds transformed into a sparkly dance floor as lights reflected off the giant disco ball and everyone couldn’t help but dance along to each iconic track. It was the perfect end to a monumental weekend in live music; Re:SET Concert Series truly feels like a revolutionary step forward in adjusting the traveling festival format for fans interested in new experiences and artists looking for more creative outlets in the live space.
If Re:SET Concert Series is coming to a town near you this summer, run – don’t walk – to at least one day. Getting to catch four unique acts in a day on one stage, hand picked by some of your favorite artists feels like a great step forward for live music.