Not even a marijuana bust in Texas or a small Canadian financial crisis can stop Soundset at this point.
Back on the grounds outside Canterbury Park in Shakopee for its seventh-annual installment Sunday, the one-day, all hip-hop music festival has grown in size every year, but this year it felt all grown up. Tickets sold out in advance for the first time ever, pushing attendance to more than 30,000 and putting the fest to the test like never before.
Fans jammed the highways around the Shakopee horse track and stood in long lines for restrooms, food and beer once they arrived. However, more complaints were heard about the lack of cellular service on the festival grounds, as signals were overloaded by fans eager to tweet and Instagram friends about what was otherwise a resoundingly fun, nonstop 10-hour live music marathon.
“I’d go stand on top of the hill but don’t want to miss this,” Eddie Koehler, 18, of Milwaukee said as he tried to tweet his joy for Chicago’s budding young wordsmith Chance the Rapper, who had one of the day’s breakout performances. In town for his second Soundset, Koehler said, “There’s nothing else like it, at least not around [the Midwest].”
Wiz Khalifa had better luck tweeting from jail. In a development that sent Soundset’s co-organizing Rhymesayers Entertainment crew into a panic, the Pittsburgh rap star posted selfies from a cell early Sunday morning after being arrested at the El Paso, Texas, airport with marijuana. Fortunately, another tweet sent Sunday afternoon put the festival crew at ease.
“That’s what jets are for,” Khalifa said via his Twitter account a few hours before he took the stage in Shakopee, right as scheduled.
Soundset co-promoter Randy Levy of Rose Presents also noted another unforeseen problem: A heavy contingent of Canadian fans found out the hard way that their ATM cards would not work stateside.
“That’s just one of many stories we’ve heard so far,” Levy said as he handed out schedules to fans at the front gate, where the ticketless were trying all sorts of excuses to talk their way past the gate.
Of course, none of the performers were complaining about the fest growing into a sellout. North Minneapolis-bred rapper and music instructor Toki Wright said before his set, “I’m so proud of Rhymesayers, and so proud of the Twin Cities for making hip-hop such a powerful force.”
And one of the Twin Cities most buzzing new stars, the rapper known as Allan Kingdom, returned to the fest Sunday after a three-year absence, but on the other end of the microphone.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to come back until I was performing, and here I am,” Kingdom said. He added with a broad smirk, “Just my luck it was this year.”
See an in-depth review, photo gallery and more at startribune.com/soundset