“Rest in peace, Joey P!” shouted hip-hop artist Big Boi and his entourage on Friday, April 26, paying homage to State College's late football coach at Movin' On 2013, which was held right outside of Beaver Stadium in University Park. The music festival has been a Penn State tradition since 1975, but Movin' On only recently grew to this magnitude when on-campus organizations joined forces in 2010 for one of the country's largest student-run music festivals.
Movin' On is free and open to the public, and there was something for everyone in Saturday's eclectic crowd – from the Frisbee-flinging students to the Coachella chic fashionistas to blanket-toting families. Food vendors, activities, and band merch tents set up shop on the expansive lawn under the cloudless sky. Battle of the Bands finalists hit the stage in the afternoon, followed by award-winning country rock trio Gloriana. The Nashville troupe riled up the crowd with a few chart-topping covers, including John Cougar Mellencamp's “Ain't That America” and “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, and they rounded their set off with their own chart-topper, “Wild at Heart.”
Long Island alt rockers Brand New have been shaking up radio waves and not giving a damn for over a decade. Frontman Jesse Lacey took the stage as the sky deepened to denim blue. Lauded for his breathy barrage of heartbroken venom, Lacey greeted the screaming crowd with airborne arms, shouting, “Validate my laziness! Thank you! Validate me!” The chords to “Sowing Season” kicked in and the crowd surfing commenced. Among the 11-song set, the quartet delivered with the quick whispers and palpitating chords of “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't” and the Modest Mouse-esque “Jesus Christ.”
Recognized as one half of Grammy-winning hip-hop sensations OutKast, Big Boi plays well with others. In his 2012 album, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors,” Big Boi blends his beats and bellows with genre-spanning collaborators, including almighty rap brat A$AP Rocky, musique concrète duo Phantogram, surf rocker Wavves, and fellow Atlanta hip-hop giant Ludacris.
DJ Swiff kicked off his spinning with Big Boi's fanfare entrance, and not a single member of BB's crew stopped dancing during the hour-long set. Big Boi was in a constant state of bounce, springing across the stage and pulsing in place as he wailed and rhymed. The ATL crew served fast-paced bursts of OutKast hits, including a soulful “Rosa Parks, “ a raucous “Bombs Over Baghdad,” a sleek “Fresh and Clean,” and a funky “Miss Jackson,” with a side of dirty south grit in a medley to rival Liza at her prime. Big Boi played a few solo songs, too, including the frenetic, guitar-driven “Apple of My Eye” from his latest album and the swaying “Speakerboxxx” hit “Ghetto Musick,” which opened with Swiff sampling Patti LaBelle.
“We got a special guest in the house,” cried Big Boi, rousing the crowd as a tall man swept across the stage in a green hoodie and a tee with gold lamé moneybags. “We do this s—t for you,” whooped Killer Mike. “We do this s—t for the whole entire world!” The band struck up the intro music for “The Whole World,” the award-winning OutKast song that spiked Killer Mike's celebrity and set the Movin' On crowd in motion. Big Boi's crew transitioned into the dirty south jam “Thom Pettie,” titled playfully for their use of the phrase freefalling. “We love you all, Penn State,” shouted Killer Mike. “Rest in peace, Joey P.”
Grammy-nominated “Shutterbug,” off his debut solo album, shook off the sunset and had the crowd bouncing along with the energetic phenomenon that is Big Boi. “Put up your A's,” shouted Big Boi, his hands meeting at a point above his head. “A-town!” He went into Atlanta hip-hop collective Purple Ribbon Allstars single “Kryptonite,” grinding across the stage, then ended the song by taking a quick shot of the crowd throwing their A's up, which he promptly Tweeted. “After-party at the bus,” enticed Big Boi. “Let's go!”
Headliners MGMT reeled in the explosive energy of Big Boi's crew to a static buzz. “This is our first show in a good old, long old while,” admitted lead vocalist Andrew VanWyngarden. “We're happy to be doing it at Penn State.” Founding members VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser were joined on stage by Matt Asti, James Richardson, and Will Berman, their touring band of multi-instrumentalists. MGMT has retired their war paint and shed their Lost Boys costumes for a stripped-down look and sound. They dusted their hour-and-a-half-long set with a few new songs from their forthcoming, self-titled studio album, each one dreamier than the last.
“We're gonna play you a new song called 'Alien Days,'” cooed VanWyngarden. The song, which was released nationally on Record Store Day as a cassingle with a zany narrative B-side, sounds like a dream pop take on '70s psychedelic ballads.
MGMT's hazy set included synthy coming-of-age anthem “Time to Pretend;” the distorted, sinister new “Mystery Disease;” a Tarantino score-esque “Weekend Wars;” the pastoral lyrics and muted rockabilly vibe of the new “Introspection;” and the distant, ghostly reverb of “I Found a Whistle” in front of constantly changing psychedelic animation stretching into the stunningly starry skies over State College. After a lengthy, chill-yet-carnivalesque “Siberian Breaks,” VanWyngarden broke the band's celestial trance by pointing toward the lunar glow over the Bryce Jordan Center with a simple, “Hey, look at the moon!”