San Bernardino brings two things to mind: bros and Big Bear. But there’s another thing the city has to offer – a gigantic fairground that has been the host of many festivals. Last Saturday’s festival, Audiotistic, brought out some heavy hitters to entertain a crowd of eclectic folks, ranging from the hip hop-loving to the trance-dazed, t to the mashed-up… and even some funk.
The place reminds me of Mexico; maybe it was the dilapidated warehouses, the mass amount of vegetation-less dirt or the flat arid atmosphere. Regardless, getting through the 91 and 215 turned out to be easier than anticipated… but the press line turned out to be the congested affair. I had arrived a good 20 minutes before The Cool Kids got on, but managed to get in a good 15 minutes after they started.
The Cool Kids (catch them this weekend for Extravaganza; you won’t be disappointed) mix a bass-heavy set with classic hip hop. Even though the duo was on very early on in the festival, it was one of maybe four highlights.
Next up on the hip hop stage was a man I have admired for a while now, Talib Kweli. He was alongside DJ Hi-Tek to create Reflection Eternal. Talib’s got this aura of ingenius meticulation of his surroundings in which without even talking to him, he seemed really down to earth.
Then there was a mad dash to catch some dance-crazy poppy breaks and beats of Flosstradamus. This set was in one of the indoor tents, and it was crazy. The lights were one thing, but Curt Cameruci and Josh Young standing behind four turn tables was the real highlight, as they worked as hard as anyone I’ve seen to bring some crazy vibes to the floor.
Back to the hip hop stage, as Z-Trip was midway through his set, busting out singles like “California Love,” “Made You Look,” “The Next Episode,” some KRS-one and ending the set with a remixed version of “Bittersweet Symphony” like you’ve never heard it before. Then there was a long wait, as instruments were set up on the stage.
Who plays instraments in hip hop anymore, you ask? The mother-f’ing Roots, baby. This was the highlight of the night. I still can’t believe I got to see this show. There was an extended battle of percussions from the man Questlove and F. Knuckles that made the crowd go nuts, a racous sousaphone from non other than Tuba Gooding Jr. and the breathless speech of Black Thought (not to say the rest of the band wasn’t amazing; there was a keyboard solo from Kamal Grey and some amazing bass and guitar from Owen Biddle and Captain Kirk Douglas, respectively).
The Roots went over its set time about 45 minutes, which was definently not a problem, but it forced me to miss the funk-a-delic set of Chromeo, though I caught the last song. The rest of the night was filled with the normal things early morning raves are known for: young kids on ecstasy, loud bass and way too much fun.