Ohio’s CLEVELAND – It was more than just music at Kid Cudi’s Moon Man’s Landing festival on Saturday. The atmosphere was psychedelic.
Estimates put the number of attendees at the Flats West Bank event at around 18,000 (though it certainly felt like more): people of all ages, colours, and socioeconomic backgrounds showed up to the event, some dressed to impress and others in what they woke up in.
But everyone was moulded after Cudi, whether they looked like the popular students or the outcasts who ate at the back of the cafeteria. The dynamic musician, producer, and actor from Cleveland has always been a bit of a mystery. His works have explored themes of isolation, alienation, love, and spirituality while yet managing to sound ecstatic and out-of-this-world.
For his hometown of Cleveland, which he left in the early 2000s to hang out with stars like Jay-Z and friend-turned-foe Kanye West, Cudi threw a festival on Saturday with a star-studded lineup. However, as is the case with most large events in Cleveland, early arrivals were met with parking difficulties.
The Nautica Entertainment Complex hosted “Moon Man’s Landing” on two stages. Since the parking lot was closed, you had to make other arrangements, like being dropped off, or get really lucky if you located a parking spot within a half mile.
People who showed up early for the festival saw Chip tha Ripper, who had promised to return to Cleveland, perform as the event’s opening act. After him came the rap superstar Pusha T, who was performing at 4 p.m. because he was the main attraction at the Motor City Roots Festival in Detroit that same night.
Fans took advantage of the festival’s relative calm in the middle to get in line for refreshments. But those who made it to the “Bose Stage” at the festival’s Jacobs Pavilion got to see Jaden, alias Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
In this case, Jaden wasn’t playing his dad’s tunes. The packed crowd was whipped into a frenzy by his bass-heavy emo rap, which was propelled by an excess of swear words.
This really resonates with me. Jaden announced, pointing to the audience. I’m going to the moon with this!
Jaden was loved by his enthusiastic audience, who packed up to within inches of the stage’s railing. A mosh pit broke out at the first notes of “Plastic,” and it didn’t stop until “Icon” took things to a whole new level.
It was like watching a young Travis Scott on stage, that’s how Jaden worked the room. He may have seemed like the day’s biggest star based on the audience’s reaction. It was only a prelude to greater things.
Jaden’s act began with a predominantly young audience, but as the night progressed, an older demographic began to replace them. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, a Cleveland hip-hop icon and much-anticipated act, lived up to the hype.
At around 7:30 p.m., the trio of Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone (without the ever-flaky Bizzy Bone) took the stage and began a celebration of their classic songs, beginning with “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” (the crowd recited the song’s intro, “We’re not against rap. We have nothing against rap music. To the tune of “Cleveland is the City,” “But we are against those thugs…” There was even an appearance by Kid Cudi, who was clearly there to fangirl it up with his mobile phone in hand.
Bits of well-known hip-hop tracks, such as “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G. and “Boyz-n-the-Hood” by their late mentor Eazy-E, were interspersed throughout the performance. More compounds were in the air and the larger the reaction was to an older song.
One supporter sniffing smoke from a friend’s blunt said she was sorry to the guy sitting next to her. Just by giving her the thumbs up, he told her to keep going. No matter where you were on the floor, you were guaranteed a strong contact high.
On the other hand, the “Entergalactic Stage” (so called because of Cudi’s upcoming animation series) at the event had an entirely different atmosphere. The California pop-rock band Haim was putting on a rock concert worthy of a major festival like Lollapalooza.
Even if the inclusion of Haim to “Moon Man’s Landing” looks out of place, the group is very much a part of Cudi’s canon. On his third studio album, titled “Indicud,” Haim contributed to the song “Red Eye.”
Alana Haim has spoken publicly about how Kid Cudi was one of the first persons to have faith in the group. We are overjoyed to be here. The results were obvious. Big singles like “The Wire” and “The Steps” were interspersed with more subdued tracks like “3 AM” and “Now I’m In It.”
Afterwards, tensions rose to a breaking point. Hip-hop phenomenon Playboi Carti drew a massive crowd to the “Entergalactic Stage,” while New Jersey musician 070 Shake led singalongs to her ambient hip-hop tunes to an equally enthusiastic crowd on the Bose Stage. Still, they would have to hold off for now.
A delay of 30 minutes caused Carti to start his set late. 070 Shake’s set was over by then (which might have been the point). The arrival of Carti made it seem as if a tsunami were about to wash up the Cuyahoga River.
Carti, one of today’s most dynamic singers, takes his trap and cloud rap tunes and turns them into full-on rock anthems. The bass-heavy rhythms shake the ground as his guitarist blasts away.
Whether it was “Stop Breathing” or his feature on Kanye West’s “Off the Grid,” Carti’s thousands of rabid followers screamed every word. Not only did Carti perform “Pull Up,” a song he hasn’t played live since 2019, but he also performed it in its entirety.
MR. RAGER 🔥@KiDCuDi pic.twitter.com/KWrsHUU6Sp
— Moon Man’s Landing (@moonmanslanding) September 18, 2022
Like a highway accident you couldn’t look away from, the hub of the throng was both horrifying and exhilarating. A group of young women emerged from the mosh pit holding hands and one of them cried out, “Guys, we almost died.” They showed no sign of being anything but enthusiastic about the opportunity.
The main event hadn’t even started yet, and Kid Cudi was still to appear. For some years now, attending a Cudi concert has become akin to attending a holy ceremony. The atmosphere on Saturday was just as festive as it had been the day before, if not more so.
I figured, well, this is the last stop on the U.S. tour. Location: in the vicinity of my hometown. I have to do something really cool for you guys,” Cudi stated.
It was unique, really. It took Cudi four years, but he finally organised a large music event in Cleveland’s downtown (and it went a lot better than the last one).
For the first time in almost six years, Cudi opened with a performance of his early song “Cleveland Is the City.” During “Dive,” the crowd was at its most energetic point before Cudi brought out Chip tha Ripper for three tracks.
That was just the beginning of a full set that included an encore that featured new songs (“Soundtrack 2 My Life” and “Solo Dolo”) and old favourites (including a cameo by Haim on “Red Eye”) that Cudi hasn’t played on tour.
Cudi’s new song “love” was a perfect finale to a night that featured both serious performances and lighter moments of joy. Cleveland’s face beamed with joy as he played with the child. It had a powerful attraction.
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