Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Concert Review | Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash 2023

Angelo Savino
Kid Cudi performs at Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash 2023.

The Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash is an annual festival hosted by Lyrical Lemonade founder and Chicago legend Cole Bennett. Bennett has worked with SPKRBX over the past five years to put on the biggest independent hip-hop festival, and this year’s edition was nothing short of spectacular. 

The efforts put into the festival were truly curated for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, from the artist lineup to the iconic food vendors and Chicago staples. Some of the festival’s amenities included unique film set pieces from multiple Lyrical Lemonade video shoots — including the iconic floor set seen in Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams” video — Minion-themed inflatables, a Ferris wheel and much more. Additionally, the festival saw support from the city’s professional baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, and football team, the Chicago Bears. There was also an appearance from Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull.

The representation from these Chicago staples really made you feel the energy and ambiance of the city. The food selection was also carefully curated with city classics, such as Portillo’s and Harold’s chicken, alongside Michelin star recipients, James Beard award winners and James Beard award nominees. Additionally, the festival curated its own Lyrical Lemonade restaurant for the first time: It featured specialty items named after the performing artists, such as Lil Uzi’s Strawberry PopTarts and Babytron’s chili cheese fries.

The festival itself was highlighted by headliners Kid Cudi, Future and Playboi Carti. Additionally, each day had its own special guest announced beforehand, which included $uicideboy$, Lil Uzi Vert and Chicago’s very own Lil Durk. Each put on a phenomenal performance, with most debuting songs they hadn’t yet performed live, only adding to the experience. Seeing some of the hottest artists in the game all over the span of a weekend was truly a dream come true.

One thing that stood out to me, compared to other top-notch music festivals, was the dedication to the artists’ set times. They were generously curated to make sure the majority of attendees could see all the artists they wanted to see, which is not typical for most festivals. The organizers allowed time between the biggest artists of the night to avoid conflict and even changed set times to meet fan demands when Young Nudy and Homixide Gang had conflicting times. There were obviously some conflicting sets that could not be altered, but you can tell they made a strong effort to please the attending fans.

One of the most notable moments from the festival was Future’s stunning appearance in a head-to-toe Lanvin outfit shortly after being named creative director of the high-end fashion brand.

Lil Uzi Vert made a smash appearance, debuting new music off his anticipated album Pink Tape. He also made a graceful entrance into the crowd, running off the stage and front-flipping into the pit, which sparked the crowd’s energy.

Another high point of the festival was Ski Mask the Slump God bringing out the one-and-only Nardwuar to hype up the crowd, which was extremely unexpected. The crowd’s reaction emphasized that. Ski Mask also brought Danny Towers and Luh Tyler to perform their recent hit “Florida Water” together. Altogether, this made for an astonishing set.

In regard to stage design, nobody even came close to topping Lil Durk’s beautiful display. Lil Durk’s stage design was a recreation of his grandma’s house with address number 7220 front and center, which was the inspiration for his 2022 album under the same name. Bennett revealed in his Instagram story that the design was created within 24 hours of the performance and was Durk’s idea. It truly stood out from the rest and was a beautiful nod to his grandmother.

One of my personal favorite moments of the weekend was the late addition of 03 Greedo to the lineup after his recent return and early release from prison after being put on parole. Greedo put on a tremendous performance, with it being one of his first major performances since his release. He played all his classics, and it truly felt like he was back like he never left.

Then, to end the night and close the festival, Playboi Carti made a notable appearance putting on one of the most energetic performances of the weekend, and the best set I’ve seen him perform. He played tracks such as “Location” and “R.I.P.,” which, up until recently, had been omitted from his typical setlist.

All in all, the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash was impeccable all around, from the layout of the festival to the food curation and the top-tier, unforgettable performances. It was most definitely one for the books, and one can only hope to return next year.

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