The electronica artist kicked off his “AREA:ONE” festival at Atlanta’s Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater on Wednesday, an eclectic music gathering that was pure energy from start to finish.
The show began on a high note with Nelly Furtado, who charmed the crowd straight away, grooving barefoot in flare-legged jeans and a black tank top.
Strong dancehall/dub influences were laced in and out of her set, including her hit “I’m Like A Bird.” The Canadian singer even offered a snippet of “Get Ur Freak On,” the Missy Elliott song which features Furtado on the remix version.
Moby said he created AREA:ONE with the hope of redefining music festivals, much like Lollapalooza did in its early stages 10 years ago. With a nationwide tour, he has invited hip-hop, rap and rock to an outdoor rave.
Other acts on the tour include The Roots, Incubus and OutKast, and DJs Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and Rinocerose.
Atlanta natives Andre and Big Boi of OutKast received a warm welcome with their frenetic rhyming and ’70s soul flavor. Hits from their multiplatinum “Stankonia” album and old school jams such as “Aquemini” and “Rosa Parks” satisfied fans.
The Roots, a Philadelphia-based hip-hop band known for live instrumentation, avoided loops and samples often associated with rap. Lead singer Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove gave an impressive performance with songs from the critically acclaimed album “Things Fall Apart.”
The band surprised everyone when they brought singer Kelis on stage. She refreshed the crowd’s memory through her single, “Caught Out There,” with its fiery rant, “I hate you so much right now.”
Incubus proved that the crowd was also receptive to rock. DJ Chris Kilmore mixed elements of breakbeat/electronica as lead singer Brandon Boyd worked the audience into a near-frenzy with his lyrical prowess. Chart-toppers “Drive,” “Stellar” and “Pardon Me” drew applause, but Boyd’s mastery of the didgeridoo, an Aborigine instrument, brought people to their feet.
Moby poured his heart into his performance, darting back and forth on stage as he played synthesizers, keyboards, electric guitar and the congas. Rave anthems like “Go” and a host of other songs from his 1999 CD, “Play,” mesmerized fans.
Smooth backup singers complemented a trio playing violins and cello while a DJ slipped in some two-step garage beats. Streams of green light and smoke filled the stage at times. Moby wrapped up the set standing atop a synthesizer, arms opened wide.
“I feel like the luckiest person in the world,” Moby told the crowd of nearly 20,000 as the show was winding down. He thanked the artists on the bill.
“Because of them, I have the coolest festival.”