Fair Park, Dallas
May 5, 2017
Not even Chance the Rapper’s bum leg or his meandering headlining set could put a damper on hip-hop and dance festival JMBLYA’s extravagan fifth edition at Fair Park on Friday.
Chance is known for putting on high-energy shows where he spends a lot of time running and dancing, but as soon as the headliner hobbled onto the stage to the tune of “Blessings,” it was clear he was in pain. He grimaced as he made his way around the stage, and later amitted to the crowd of 25,000 that he'd recently been injured playing basketball.
After performing "Angels" from 2016's Coloring Book, Chance decided to improvise the rest of the setlist. Fans clamored for tracks from his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, and he delivered "Pusha Man," "Cocoa Butter Kisses" and "Smoke Again."
After running through a Kanye West medley featuring his own rendition of “Waves” and their collaboration “Ultralight Beam,” Chance brought out Quavo of Migos to perform their features verses on DJ Khaled and Justin Bieber’s “I’m The One.”
While Chance tried to make light of his injury, at this point it became impossible to ignore. The set took an odd turn when the rest of Migos came out to perform “Bad and Boujee,” which they'd already performed earlier in the day during their own set.
The stalling continued, with Chance bringing out Gucci Mane and Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd. Following these guest spots, Chance announced it was time to return to his own set, but after performing “Mixtape,” “No Problems" and “All Night” from Coloring Book, he called it a night. He returned briefly for an encore but it wasn't enough to help the typically fantastic showman recover from a short, disjointed set.
This somewhat lackluster headlining set wasn't enough to ruin JMBLYA, however. This year's lineup boasted too many other superstars, including Gucci Mane, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert and EDM icon Steve Aoki.
JMBLYA has come a long way since its augural year at South Side Ballroom in 2013, a venue that didn't have a festival atmosphere at all. Since then it has moved to and subsequently also outgrown Main Street Garden Park downtown and grounds in Deep Ellum.
This year, for the second in a row, JMBLYA took over Fair Park with a multi-sensory experience developed by Texas-based promoters ScoreMore Shows, who have cornered the hip-hop market by establishing relationships with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, J. Cole and Chance the Rapper before they became superstars.
The 2017 edition of JMBLYA was the festival’s biggest yet. Even the undercard featured stars of the genre such as Young Dolph, YFN Lucci, 6lack and Pell.
Since being released from prison last year on gun charges, which he is not allowed to own because he's a convicted felon, Gucci Mane has been on a welcome home tour of sorts. He's played nearly every festival from Coachella to South by Southwest, so the Trap God was comfortable on stage at JMBLYA as he ran through songs new (“Both,” “Black Beatles”) and old (“Lemonade,” “Wasted” and “My Kitchen”).
Atlanta-based trio Migos came off more like rock stars at JMBLYA, where they had the strongest set and garnered the most intense crowd reactions off the day. Migos rattled off hit after hit, like “Bad and Boujee,” “T-Shirt,” “Deadz,” “Pipe It Up” and “Look At My Dab."
Steve Aoki also made a strong showing, turning JMBLYA into a chaotic party with his rituals of cake throwing, champagne spraying and confetti blasting.
JMBLYA also really excelled in the details. Free water was available all day, and there were numerous other activities and concession to partake in, like waterslides, bungee jumping, bounces houses and food trucks. While other North Texas festivals are still looking to find their footing, ScoreMore quietly seems to have figured it all out.
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