GETTING UP FESTIVAL with Kanye West , Ludacris , Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boyz , Jully Black , Kardinal Offishal , Thrust , Jellestone , Rascalz , Brooke Valentine and G-Wonder , at the Docks, August 14. Tickets: $40. Attendance: 12,000. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
It looked like Marc Ecko's Getting Up Festival wasn't going to meet projected attendance expectations. The two-day event, conceived by the millionaire clothing entrepreneur with Toronto native and A-level music video director Lil' X as a tie-in to the release of his upcoming graffiti-based video game of the same name, was doing so poorly that the promoters instigated a last-minute two-for-one fire sale the week of the event in hopes of filling up the seriously immense Polson Pier.
Still, it wasn't until well into the Sunday show, when Jully Black was finishing up her set, that the place filled up nicely and the whole affair looked more like a proper festival.
Lil' Jon and his Eastside Boyz then walked onstage. Brandishing the trademark bejewelled crunk chalice, the Atlanta producer and his crew tore through a set of bass-heavy club bangers with aplomb. Exhorting the audience to "act a fool," the King of Crunk managed to whip up the crowd near the front of the stage into a near mosh pit, proving that his brand of aggressive party music is well suited to a festival-sized show.
As darkness settled, Kanye West took to the stage to rapturous applause. Accompanied by Montreal's DJ A-Track , he delivered a crowd-pleasing set focused on the seemingly never-ending list of hit singles off the College Dropout album. The undeniable strength of Kanye's beats and melodic hooks more than made up for his somewhat subpar live skills as an MC, and the crowd loved every minute of his performance.
Headliner act Ludacris demonstrated why he's the most popular rapper alive right now, oozing stage presence and energy. The Atlanta native barely had to touch the mic on account of all the singing along the crowd was doing. In no time at all the entire place was going off to bouncy party tunes like What's Your Fantasy? and Southern Hospitality. It was a fitting end to the veritable marathon of American and Canadian hiphop talent on display over the weekend. Here's hoping it goes down again next year.
The first half of Sunday saw the stage operate like a revolving door of largely Canadian talent. Thrust and G-Wonder began the day by trying their best to amp the sparse crowd to little avail. You could have blinked and missed Houston R&B singer Brooke Valentine 's three-song showcase.
Jelleestone interrupted his set of ultra-serious street rap to call for a moment of silence honouring the victims of the recent rash of gun homicides. This sentiment was echoed by Vancouver's Rascalz , whose blunted-out West Coast style went over well with the steadily growing audience.
Toronto's Jully Black took to the stage with a full band to deliver a slick series of R&B numbers off her upcoming album. Toronto's Kardinal Offishal had the honour of playing to the first sun-graced crowd of the day. Backed up by the Black Jays , the reigning prince of Toronto hiphop tore through an energetic set balanced between grimy new material and Toronto classics like Ol' Time Killin'. By the time he smashed up a guitar and launched into Hustlin', the energy in the crowd had been upped considerably.