In its fifth year, the hip-hop music fest kept fans spinning all day and trying to stay cool.
After four previous years of incessant chants of "Throw your hands in the air," it was at least nice to hear a new crowd-riling demand from a rapper at the Soundset festival on Sunday.
"Make some noise if you're about to barf from heat stroke," Minneapolis hip-hop star P.O.S. hollered during his late-afternoon set on the festival grounds outside Canterbury Park.
If this wasn't the biggest Soundset ever -- the preliminary attendance figure of nearly 20,000 equaled last year's impressive turnout -- it was certainly the hottest. The fifth annual all-day, all-hip-hop marathon saw few true heat-exhaustion cases, according to EMT crews, but the 90-degree heat changed the face of the event -- literally so in the case of Astronautalis, who like many in the crowd sported bright pink, sunburned skin by day's end.
Instead of cramming toward the front of the stage, more young fans could be seen cowering under the DJ/B-boy tent and what other scant shade there was on the field outside the horse track. The concert location proved advantageous in at least one regard, though: The big watering trucks used to hose down the racetrack and horses were instead turned on hip-hop fans in the late afternoon, as the heat peaked.
"I'd still be here even if it were 120 degrees," raved second-time Soundset attendee Marcus Harper, 19, of Madison, Wis., who was hosed down while watching New York rapper Aesop Rock.
Since its inaugural year in a Metrodome parking lot in 2008, Soundset has grown in size and reputation. Aesop Rock and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah are the latest national rap vets to come to town to perform at it Sunday, alongside such hot newcomers as Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. and Dr. Dre's protege, Kendrick Lamar. The performers wham-bammed fans with nonstop sets on two side-by-stages, hurrying to beat the evening storms.
It didn't work. Midway through Lupe Fiasco's set at 7:20 p.m., fans were asked to leave due to a tornado warning, a Soundset first. Promoters had hoped to restart the show so local favorite Atmosphere could cap the festival with the much-anticipated finale, but another line of storms forced them to call it off for good.
Read a full Soundset review in Tuesday's Variety or at startribune.com/music.