Re:SET Brings Good Vibes, boygenius, and a New Concert Experience to Atlanta

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IDLES @ Re:SET Atlanta (Credit: Jones Willingham)

For those that are unfamiliar and seeking a new type of concert vibe, the Re:SET Concert Series could be a godsend. The ambitious project, launched by AEG, seeks to turn the festival experience on its head – rather than an all-day, exhaustive festival lineup designed to milk every dollar from fans that only get to see half of the artists they want to see, it begs the question “what if we simplified the festival experience?” Three days of music, touring around the country that features heavy-hitting headliners (LCD Soundsystem, Steve Lacy, and boygenius) that curate each of their own days, a rotating crew of vendors, local food, and experiences, and a general relaxed vibe that’s tough to find at larger festivals around the country. While the backers of the concert series haven’t promoted attendance numbers, the Atlanta edition felt cozy and intimate – it felt like you were watching an LCD Soundsystem concert with kickass openers, but in the same park where Shaky Knees was held, without the hassle and general toughness of a giant festival. Concert-goers were often seen strewn out on blankets across the lawn rather than jammed up to the front (with the exception of boygenius’s day on Sunday, where fans showed up in droves from the minute doors opened to camp out in front of the stage until an untimely rain delay forced the evacuation of the festival). It was a markedly chill experience, and one can hope that this new way of the summer live music experience will catch on for the years to come. Scroll through to check out our day-by-day recaps of Re:SET Atlanta.

 

Friday

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Due to traffic issues in the city, we missed the opener Foushee’s set to kick off the Atlanta edition of the series. Following her set was Toro Y Moi, whose deep discography created a dance party for attendees. Project mastermind Chaz Bear was in a dancey, rare form, threatening to keep the music over 150 BPM for an hour straight.

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After Bear’s set, James Blake took the stage – a weirder quirk of the series is that, because of the late summer setting, all of the acts played in fairly harsh daylight, making clubbier acts like Blake and Saturday’s Jamie XX a sort of daytime rave which provided a totally different experience than a typical set for the artists. Blake’s set pulled across his own similarly deep discography; coming on to his classic cover of “Limit to Your Love” and journeying through albums like Assume Form and the recently-turned-ten Overgrown, the set was a stunning reminder of one of electronic music’s strongest songwriters.

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I’ll be fairly blunt here — walking into this set, I didn’t fully understand the Steve Lacy hype. “Bad Habit” and several of the songs off of last year’s Gemini Rights are great pop tracks, but the sudden ascent to massive headliner status has felt a little rushed to me. After seeing his Re:SET set, though…all aboard the hype train. The sky feels like the limit for Lacy — with the most detailed production of the day, it felt like we were watching the second-coming of Prince at times. The fans at the front of the barricade were actively losing their minds the entire set, with the screaming being at the volume I’d expect at a Taylor Swift show. The man’s got moves, and the chops to boot — whereas the other two headliners were old vets (LCD) and the supergroup of the century (boygenius), this one feels like a coronation for a superstar that’s not going to be going away any time soon.

 

Saturday

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Saturday began with the unfortunate news that Big Freedia’s set had been canceled due to extreme dehydration. While we didn’t get to bounce, we got to absolutely beat the hell out of each other when IDLES took the stage. The British post-punk band has slowly began to take over America, with their live shows being dubbed as near-religious experiences by the media. This was my first time seeing IDLES, and it felt like a breakneck sprint for the entire show. Lead singer Joe Talbot is a menace on stage, goading the crowd into getting more intense with every note while band members Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen wreak havoc behind him. With Freedia’s cancellation, the Atlanta crowd got the opportunity to see an extended IDLES set, and the band did not waste a single second. 

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Following the chaos of IDLES was a ravey set from producer mastermind Jamie XX. After teasing “There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” to start, the British DJ gave us an hour of straight-up club euphoria that had the entire crowd in a boogie-ing trance. The daylight hurt Jamie XX here – it was tough to take in the full LED production with the harsh sunlight, but the crowd didn’t care. They were there to dance their ass off anyway.

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After a brief intermission, LCD Soundsystem took the stage to the chaotic build of “Us V Them” off of 2007’s Sound of Silver. From there, it was a hit parade of sorts as the band traveled through time to touch on every part of their dense discography. It felt like everyone in the crowd knew every word to every song, speaking to the wide reach of the New York group across the generations; this was the set that I saw the most families at, singing along with parents and children alike. The set was a slow burn through the times, reaching a mighty crescendo at “Dance Yrself Clean”, and then concluding with the generational-classic “All My Friends”. They still have the headlining chops, eight years post-reunion, and they provided a thrilling escape for the evening as the sun went down.

 

Sunday 

Sunday’s lineup started with relative chaos, as storms were forecasted in the area that had dramatically impacted Re:SET New Orleans the night before. The concert series made a bold, and slightly frustrating call: in an attempt to get everyone on stage, doors were suddenly moved an hour and a half earlier, with the day starting an hour earlier with Bartees Strange. If you look through Twitter, chronically-online fans were miffed by the sudden shift, but this was a clear attempt to get ahead of the impending weather, despite how crazy the thought was of seeing boygenius at 6:00 PM in the evening.

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However, the sudden shift caused an array of problems, beginning with Bartees’ set to open up the day. Somehow, he was the only one to make it to the stage out of his band – so perhaps unexpectedly, he took the stage anyway, playing a very brief three-song acoustic set to warm up the day. It was a strangely compelling three songs, though — a prime example of making lemonade out of lemons and giving his best to make the crowd that showed up early thrilled to watch him.

 

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After a long setup period to accurately recreate the live album video of his album Absolutely, Dijon took the stage. The shapeshifting singer-songwriter is one of the greatest new voices in the indie sphere, and his ascent has been noteworthy as it’s felt like he has never once compromised his artistic vision to create a show exactly as he sees it. Dijon’s set drew primarily from Absolutely, and it was delightfully weird and mosaic-like as he is on record. Armed with an uber-talented band, Dijon and co. brought Absolutely to life with a sort-of quiet intensity — songs like “Big Mike’s” would often begin as a whisper before growing into a beautiful clatter that enveloped everyone in the crowd. It felt like a combination between a DJ set and a traditional band; every Dijon show is going to be a little different with an intense emotional pull thanks to his incredibly distinctive rasp. Closer “Rodeo Clown” brought listeners to tears as it slowly merged into a straight-up noise rock anthem, punctuated by the singer escalating in emotion and intensity before throwing the microphone down and storming off the stage as the din receded — one can only hope that this tour will help Dijon’s star rise higher than it currently is, because his live show is truly one of the more special things in the music landscape right now.

 

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Clairo’s set following Dijon was somewhat of a homecoming — armed with a backing band that included a horn section, flutist, and strings, the Atlanta-born singer-songwriter brought listeners into the world of 2021’s Sling with an alarming specificity. It was the best-mixed set of the weekend – every instrument sounded perfectly in place, and at the middle was Clairo, orchestrating her band with the poise of someone who’s been in the industry for decades. Songs from Immunity hit hard (this is my pitch of saying “Bags” is one of the best pop songs of the past twenty years), but it was the Sling songs that carried the most emotional weight across the crowd as storm clouds rolled in.

 

Now, about those storm clouds – despite the deft maneuvering of the Re:SET crew to get ahead of the storms, sometimes you can only fight Mother Nature so hard. RIGHT as boygenius was slated to take the stage at 6:10 PM, the concert series announced the worst news possible for fans who had waited all day: the park had to evacuate for lightning in the area. As we were walking out of the park, the weather became apocalyptic — pouring rain and lightning engulfed Atlanta for an hour as patrons sat in their cars wondering what would happen next. boygenius not taking the stage was a nightmare scenario for Re:SET, as the Sunday show was markedly more attended than the rest of the weekend.

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After an hour wait, we received the message that the park would reopen and boygenius would take the stage — and after a brief wait, the headliners for the day showed up to give us a set of a lifetime. The trio of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus are an absolutely dominating rock band now, with the fandom and the chops to show for it. Dressed in school outfits as if they were AC/DC, the band came on to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town” and launched into “$20”, a harder-hitting Baker-led track from this year’s the record. I’ve never seen a more intense fandom than what I saw on Sunday night; these fans knew every word, every snare hit, and every aside that the three musicians would utter during the course of the live show. This was no longer the Re:SET Series — instead, it was boygenius taking the title of the greatest show in indie rock. Songs from 2018’s self-titled EP felt like stadium anthems — “Stay Down”, in particular, blossomed into a mighty roar amidst a light show that brought the most vivid display of color all weekend. All hail our new indie-rock overlords — boygenius is simply unstoppable right now.

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