|Photos by Ben Clark|
At the end of this year's Soundset (read our full recap here
), Face Candy closed out the Fifth Element stage by turning their set into a collaborative freestyle that was dedicated to the group's founder, Micheal Larsen, and it carried a somber tone that contrasted quite vividly with the rest of the jubilant performances at the festival. With Big Boi blaring just a few hundred feet away, a crowd dressed in handmade Eyedea t-shirts gathered to watch a moving tribute led by Face Candy core members Casey O'Brien, JT Bates, and Kristoff Krane, with cameo appearances by Carnage (who hosted the Fifth Element stage this year), Joe Horton of No Bird Sing, Sadistik, 2Mex, Bleubird, and Irenic.
Carnage warmed up the crowd with an Eyedea & Abilities song, "Star Destroyer," and explained that the following 45 minutes would be "in dedication of the greatest human being to ever live" as O'Brien and Bates stoically approached their instruments, beers in hand. Krane then emerged to get the ball rolling, riffing on the idea that Larsen was all about new experiences and that they would be performing an entirely freestyle set. As the band invited a string of guest performers to join them on stage, the mood stayed dark and introspective and the rappers' odes to Larsen seemed downright spiritual, as they insisted on more than one occasion that they believed he was watching them perform ("he's the invisible member of this band," Krane noted at one point).
The crowd openly grieved Larsen's passing throughout the performance, with many openly weeping and hugging one another and an overwhelming sense of unity coursing through the air. With the words flowing fast and free, the performance was a very visceral and raw experience that seemed like a spot-on homage to Larsen's artistic voice. Here are a few lines that stuck out and were repeated during the show:
Carnage: "Mike Larsen's here without a doubt."
2Mex: "I was like, is he Eminem? And then I was like no, he's way better than him!"
Kristoff: "Look at what he left us with / and look at what we connected with / look at what this heaven is."
Toward the end of the set, Krane asked that the crowd partake in a moment of silence, and the quiet reverence of the crowd was made all the more poetic as it stretched out over one of the loudest parts of Big Boi's set ("It's not like you can learn anything from watching that dude," Krane had scoffed sarcastically earlier in the set). To close the performance, Face Candy invited Larsen's longtime musical partner DJ Abilities and his mother Kathy Averill to the stage to release a couple dozen pink and blue balloons with Larsen's lyrics on them into the overcast sky as they instructed the crowd to yell "1, 2, 3... Mikey!"