Story by Christina Montford
Outkast. Reunited. Atlanta. Those three words in any order could explain the severity of what happened at this year’s Counterpoint Music Festival and why everyone in the city was having heart palpitations. Outkast having a reunion in the state that started it all was enough to draw me, along with thousands of other 20-somethings, out for the 3rd annual CounterPoint Music Festival. And if that wasn’t enough, the 3-day event boasted heavy hitters like Janelle Monae, Pretty Lights, Major Lazer, Flux Pavilion and STS9 that rounded out the lineup.
I’ve been to my share of music festivals and they never get any less surreal. There’s a magic about them that lets you be anyone you want (costumes are encouraged) and anything can happen (I got hit in the head with a blow up prosthetic leg). The wonder continued at Kingston Downs for CounterPoint 2014.
I decided to camp for the festival to really immerse myself in the experience — a decision my hair was not very happy about. As with most festivals the line-up tends to get better with time, so we weren’t pressed about getting to the venue early. By the time we arrived most of the traffic had died down. The process to enter the campgrounds went a lot more smoothly than I expected. Despite a few people who had the misfortune of ending up with fake tickets from Craigslist, everyone was in the campgrounds within 30 minutes of arriving to the site.
The grounds were beautiful. Miles and miles of green fields filled with tents of eager festival-goers. The campsite went on for acres and was lined with colored light poles to ensure all the drunkards found their way home.
Once inside there were vendors selling everything from beautiful dashikis to roll on perfume (if you ever see a small African woman selling something called Beyoncé Heat perfume buy it on the spot and thank me later). People twirled around in outrageous costumes and with the heat baring down on us, it became clear that clothing was frowned upon amongst this crowd. Pasties were out in abundance and no one cared. All that mattered was the music and the good vibes.
There wasn’t a single block of down time to recuperate from shows because each performance was a must see. Janelle Monae wowed the crowd with the kind of style and grace you have to see live to understand, Diplo crowd surfed in a giant plastic ball and Pretty Lights blinded the audience in the best way possible. I fell in love with each artist and the different brands of creativity they brought to their live performances. You could go from listening to hardcore, to fist pumping EDM to smooth, soulful old school hip-hop in a matter of hours. That’s the beauty of a festival.
On Sunday afternoon severe weather warnings caused the festival to be suspended and everyone was sent back to their cars and tents until the weather passed. I worried that people would start leaving and the magic couldn’t withstand the rain. It didn’t take long for the fans to prove me wrong. The hardcore festival-goers were in it for the long haul. No one budged. People turned their tarps into slip and slides and embraced the madness. When the rain finally let up and we were allowed back onto the festival grounds, there was a palpable buzz going around the venue. We were back and we were ready for Outkast.
Major Lazer went on before Outkast and they warranted a crowd of hundreds all on their own. From their first song on there was an electric current that went through the audience and had even those of us who were sober on a natural high. At one point Diplo jumped out into the crowd in a giant ball reminiscent of bubble boy and made his way across the sea of people in the audience.
When their set came to a close, no one moved. The entire crowd, minus a few people who clearly weren’t committed, stayed shoulder to shoulder for an hour and a half until Outkast was ready to come on. It was the end of day three so naturally, my knees were wobbling and my legs were cursing me. A boy in front of me fainted and even the tweakers were starting to come down, but no one dared lose their spot.
And it was well worth the wait.
Outkast opened with the most mesmerizing performance of “Bombs over Baghdad” and went straight into some old school favorites. Their show blessed my soul in ways I hadn’t known were possible. Not even drunk people rubbing their sweat-soaked bodies or obnoxious couples finding love in a hopeless place could take away from the trance that Outkast had the whole audience in. With soul and a shot of nostalgia, the Atlanta natives brought down the house in the way that everyone hoped they would.
I didn’t get to shower for the entire 3-day run of the festival; running water had become more of a distant memory than an actual possibility and my hair was beginning to turn to dreadlocks. But I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Counterpoint was easily one of my favorite festivals and I can’t wait to see how next year’s lineup will stack up.
Photography by Lauren Foster.