By Hali Neal
There was a brief two-hour window on a rainy Sunday where it actually looked like SunFest was going to live up to its name.
That window was when the Wisconsin rockers by the name of Garbage took the stage. Scottish lead singer Shirley Manson strutted up and down the stage in a white kimono/dress, hot pink hair pulled into a bun as she nailed every note on “Push It” and, after, scolded drummer Butch Vig (“are you daffy?”) for whatever he asked her before they launched into megahit “Only Happy When It Rains,” which she both crooned and growled (on “rains”). Vig’s powerful drums resonated both with Manson’s vocals and the lyrics.
As sunscreen was slathered on and fans jammed out to Garbage’s set, there was a moment of relaxation, of “Ah yes, this. This is what I came for.” Unfortunately, 20 minutes after the set’s end, dark clouds and cool wind moved in and led to a full-out lightning warning while local band (and Battle of the Bands winner) Citizen Badger was setting up next on the JetBlue stage.
There aren’t really safe places to hide from lightning by said stage, the farthest SunFest stage, because nothing is by it. This isn’t a new problem either, so I’m not sure why nothing’s ever been done. Luckily, a nearby beer tent trying to raise money for a local high school lent their tent as shelter until the warning (and most of the rain) had cleared.
There was debate about whether Citizen Badger could play now that all the set times had to be pushed. They seemed to be setting up when another band of torrential rain soaked all those without umbrellas or ponchos. It was the type of soaking that in which you wring out your T-shirt and hide your hands under your armpits for warmth. This sent people walking as quickly as possible without tripping to suitable shelter.
Because of the (many) weather delays, every headlining set time was up in the air, leaving the organizers scrambling to ask the bands if they’d be OK with shifting their original set times. There was no answer until finally word got out around 7:15 (when it finally stopped raining) that Lil Dicky, originally scheduled to play the Tire Kingdom stage at 7:30, would play at 7:50 and Keith Urban, scheduled to headline on the Ford Stage at 7:30, was shifted to 9 p.m.
Tears for Fears canceled (because of a weather warning), which angered a fan who’d bought Sunday’s general admission ticket just to see them and threw his ticket in the Information Booth worker’s face when she said she couldn’t give him a refund because it wasn’t a The Stand (a pricier ticket allowing the holder to be closer to the band/artist during the performance) ticket.
This shakeup likely sent a few extra people over to the Tire Kingdom stage to see rapper Lil Dicky (including this writer). The set started off with Elz the DJ getting the crowd pumped for Lil Dicky’s set. He played the standard party song fare, including Lil Nas X/Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road,” the song that’s spawned many a meme and instant groans in anyone who works in a bar, club or any type of live music venue.
Once Elz ensured the crowd was sufficiently hyped up, he introduced Lil Dicky, who bounced onto the stage in an orange tracksuit, his hype man following close behind. Most rap stars are concerned with how many cars the public thinks they have, how much diamond-encrusted jewelry, or how “hard” they are (and if it’s gangsta rap, how many guns they have), but Lil Dicky isn’t most rap stars, a point he illustrated perfectly in his first song of the set, “Professional Rapper.”
He later asked the crowd how long the festival was and how long they’d been there and when someone told him, he said, “Eight hours?! Well has anyone (sung) the National Anthem yet?”
There was a collective “no” and Lil Dicky showed off some vocal chops by singing the entirety of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
The one somewhat typical rapper thing about him is his love of weed and girls twerking (in a video on the screen that is), as in “Pillowtalk”: “I get paid for that. Smoking weed in public but it never seems to matter.” His personality sometimes is incongruous with his lyrics but in a way that’s oddly fun to watch, like when he told the crowd, “When I say ‘no more,’ you say ‘spreadsheets!’” and they obliged.
There was an internal cringe when he phrased one of the three things he was good at as “soaking up female genitalia, sports and rap” and that he was “about to teach you [the crowd] something about all three.”
“Personality” can either be, at best, a weirdly own-your-stuff anthem or, at worst, a “but I’m a nice guy!” track. It’s tough to tell. Live, it’s fun to watch and listen to, especially since Elz dropped a sample of Tag Team’s 90’s party classic “Whoomp There It Is” in it. The sound on this stage, from the microphone to the DJ table, was set up perfectly also, a testament to the sound crew/soundperson.
Lil Dicky’s entertaining joie de vivre, especially when enthusiastically chanting “Bill Nye The Science Guy and Bill! Bill!” as part of “Too High,” was just what the soaked crowd needed after hours of limbo.