Two hundred and eighty-five pounds of "pure motherfucking beef" stole away the final night of Summer Set Music and Camping Festival on Sunday night, in the form of rapper Action Bronson.
The hip-hop star — who also wins the award for being Most Comfortable with Announcing Their Weight — ably restarted the nearly canceled Day 3 of Summer Set with his no-frills stage show and never-ending yell-flow. Clad all in black that contrasted with his unruly red beard, Bronson's ceaseless howls about eating oysters and speaking six languages in three voices pushed their way out of his barrel-shaped chest and through his throat like ground beef through a meat grinder.
About halfway into his too-short set, Bronson took a breather and, smelling the smoke rising from the audience, pleaded for marijuana from the crowd.
"I need some weed, too," Bronson said to the festival fans. "Make sure to pass it this way."
Sure enough, just before a lively take on "Falconry," an audience member tossed an unlit joint to the stage.
Bronson grabbed it for a minute and paused. Snagging a lighter from his live companion, producer the Alchemist, Mr. Wonderful himself took a hit onstage and handed the weed off to a security guard, who passed it back to the audience.
The single puff wasn't enough to slow Bronson down, and the show was still firing on all cylinders when the rapper brought friend and collaborator Meyhem Lauren out for the latter's "100 MPH."
Action Bronson's pummeling performance was the most attacking part of a subdued final night of Somerset's three-day gathering of EDM artists, rappers, and indie bands. Potential storms forced a set from the highly anticipated Die Antwoord offstage no more than three songs in, and performances by Deadmau5 and Tune-Yards seemed a little like they were over the whole festival thing for the weekend.
"I hope we don't drum in the water," Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus said as she introduced the band's 2014 singalong "Water Fountain." Playing a midday set while the rain clouds gathered overhead at the Grove Stage, Tune-Yards created an uncharacteristically low-key cacophony of futuristic synths and polyrhythmic harmonies.
Between downtempo cuts from Nikki Nack, including "Time of Dark" and "Real Thing," Tune-Yards' wistfully beautiful set felt like a predictor for their Summer Set fans' lives after the fest. The blissfully grooving crowd didn't seem to notice one particularly telling line in "Wait for a Minute," when singer Garbus croons, "Monday, I wake up with disgust in my head, could not forgive myself another moment spent in bed."
Despite a slight tiredness in Garbus' voice (the band's been on the road since releasing Nicki Nack more than a year ago), she, bassist Nate Brenner, and touring members Dani Markham, Moira Smiley, and Haley Dekle pulled the set together for a transcendent rendering of Whokill's "Bizness," in which they replaced the studio version's duetting saxophones with uplifting vocal harmonies.
After crew members took an hour to assemble an elaborate LED-covered egg, Sunday headliner Deadmau5 commanded the mainstage audience with a ceaseless set of pounding prog-house beats, including updated versions of hits like "Some Chords" and "Ghosts 'n' Stuff."
A few tracks in, Deadmau5's cage broke free, offering the audience a clear look at his, well, Mau5sk. The black mascot head with flashbulb eyes bounced with the pulse of the beat, staring into the audience with its synthetic eyeballs.
As one of the top EDM musicians from North America, Deadmau5 still experiments with expectations — oftentimes, he eschewed the standard 16-bar build-silence-beat with unexpectedly placed drops. Despite the gargantuan bass drum boom, Chairman Mau5 seemed relaxed during his set. At one point, he took off the mouse head to smoke a cigarette, repeating the gesture again when he sat on a couch and relaxed onstage while two people dressed in shark and hotdog mascot costumes, respectively, danced along.
Watching Deadmau5 and a guy dressed like Sharky bounce together on the couch like kiddos ended Summer Set 2015 on a note of brotherly love and carefree good times, which, aside from the massive amounts of cocaine and MDMA consumed by neon-colored ravers, sealed the weekend as a success.
Critic's bias: My familiarity with Deadmau5's discography ends at 2010, so I didn't recognize most of the tunes. That said, danceability trumps recognizability at a festival where people are more likely to sway and play with glow sticks than listen intently to the music.
The crowd: Mostly coming down off the drugs. A few folks who came in with $100 tickets just for Sunday left disappointed after the rain seemingly ended the night early, before Action Bronson revived the closing ceremonies.
Overheard in the crowd: This wasn't something I heard, but rather read: After a guy gave me a hug for snapping a personal photo of him and his friends, he shook my hand and slipped along an invite to join the Chicago Rave Syndicate. Maybe I can pitch this to City Pages and my (nonexistent) dream of getting paid to rave will never end!
Random notebook dump: On "Baby Blue," Action Bronson brags about being "butt naked in a Lamborghini." Not to be rude, but can a man of Bronson's stature fit in a Lamborghini? God, I'm sorry to end this three-day review on a fat joke. My computer died, give me a break.