Concert Review: Dubai’s Chill Out Festival, Night Two

Erykah Badu performs at Dubai's Chill Out Festival (photo by Tom Roth)

Night Two of Dubai’s Chill Out Festival kept true to the form of the first night. The opening acts laid out smooth beats conducive to head nodding and splaying out on the sand to soak up rays until DJ Aim wrapped up his 5:30 set.

Next on the stage was the acclaimed Cinematic Orchestra whose resume and sound eerily resembles that of Explosions in the Sky. Both groups have contributed their pensive instrumental sounds to popular American TV series including Friday Night Lights, Criminal Minds, and Grey’s Anatomy. Crowding the stage with their eight-member presence, they pitched and rolled through lilting melodies that epitomized the festival’s signature of chilled-out music.

As the Cinematic Orchestra bowed out, DJ Matthew Herbert swiftly took his place in front of the stage and behind his equipment. What started out as a slow set soon had the crowd bumping along to the beat and preparing for the hype of the main attraction. Herbert’s grooves were consistent and as he wrapped up his performance, everyone was stomping the sand in anticipation of the evening’s headliner, Erykah Badu.

In true rock-star style, Badu failed to take the stage for another 45 minutes, leaving ample time for any pre-existing excitement to die away. When she finally arrived, she stepped gingerly from a golf cart, surrounded by her entourage and made her way slowly to the stage. Another five minutes went by and then it was show-time.

Badu’s stage presence was one of great eccentricity. Sporting an opulent green-gold shawl draping from her peasant-cap to the floor, she stood authoritively at stage-front, making lyrical declarations into the microphone. Badu took the opportunity to strike profound poses during instrumental interludes spreading her shawled arms so that she mimicked some sort of enormous peacock.

On several tracks, Badu joined the musicians corps by turning to a drum machine and pounding out ill-fitting but well-timed rhythms. The crowd jerked and faltered as it tried to dance in time with the ever-changing flow. The confusion was short lived and soon Badu was back at the microphone.

When she wasn’t sipping tea from china cup or sitting cross-legged at the base of the microphone stand, Badu was busy putting on a thrilling performance. “Call Tyrone”, while only a few lines long, elicited a roar from the unusually compelled crowd. Other hits like “Bag Lady Remix” and “Danger” helped Badu’s set reach its zenith in its final minutes.

Past midnight, the crowd could leave happy. The hardcore partiers in attendance stayed on for DJ David Craig’s early-morning set but for most in attendance, Badu had fulfilled everything desired from the Chill Out Festival.

– by Tom “Wonderboy” Roth

Click here for pictures from Night Two of Dubai’s Chill Out Festival.