Saturday marked another night of the annual craziness that is Freakfest. Starting at 7 P.M., thousands upon thousands of costumed “freaks” thronged through State Street on their way to listen to the live music performed by artists like Big Gigantic and Mac Miller, or, for those who were of age, wandered into one of State Streets many bars to have a few drinks. Or twenty.
After being herded through security checkpoints, with a staff that can only be generously described as under-qualified, Freakfest attendants were greeted by a myriad of people, ranging in age, ethnicity and sobriety. The costumes sighted covered a broad spectrum, with those that were easily identifiable: teams of Avengers, cowboys and cowgirls, police officers and criminals, and for those who enjoy being reminded of their childhood, dozens of Waldos; to the obscure costumes only those with knowledge of that niche in pop culture could name. And then there were the comedic outfits. Following closely behind two mounted police officers was a man sporting a horse head as his costume. And, of course, there were the poorly-planned, last minute mix-and-match outfits pieced together from things bought at one of the several second-hand stores in Madison, or from things borrowed, previously owned, or created. Most notably, a man wearing a sign that read “Streaker on Strike” could be seen wandering near the Capitol.
As you approached the Capitol stage, the music grew noticeably louder, and the ripping bass could be felt with greater intensity. By the time I arrived, the temperature had dropped to a frigid 28 degrees, and Prof was in the process of pumping up the crowd of freezing, costumed party-goers, who were excited for the act that followed, Mac Miller. Prof and his DJ, DJ Thunder, broke from their performance to compliment the costumed woman in front of him on her well-rounded breasts, as well as compliment the city of Madison on their ability to throw a party. He then began to serenade the woman, professing his love for her and his desire to marry her after the show. As his show continued, those in the front row were consistently greeted with streams of confetti and were showered with water thrown from the stage.
For those unfamiliar with the songs of Prof, they could still enjoy the familiar drum loops, bass drops, and synthesized instrumental backtracks that make rap and hip-hop mainstays at dance parties. Although he started off strong, Prof’s vocal accuracy deteriorated throughout his set, yet he continued to keep the crowd engaged, frequently requesting for everyone to “Make some fucking noise!” This generated an unparalleled crowd response every time. Before his second to last song, Prof stated that this next one was neither rap nor hip-hop, and, in fact, was, “Straight up blues.” This was followed by a song about whiskey and women with obvious roots in both rap and hip-hop, and extraordinarily less obvious roots in blues. Prof capped off his performance with a song that required extensive crowd interaction. After a little instruction, the majority of the audience was singing along with the chorus of “Animal.”
Following Prof’s set, the anticipation of Mac Miller’s performance caused the buzzed and antsy crowd of Freakfest concert-goers to shuffle, shove, bump, and push past each other in an effort to either leave the inevitably erupting volcano, or dive further in. Directly behind me, an angry college student dressed as a gorilla smoking a cigar was bumped one too many times, and shoved back. The scuffle only lasted several seconds, and was finished with a fair handshake, but this was my cue to leave the madness.
Fortunately, I was able to catch the beginning of Mac Miller from the side of the stage near the exit. Introduced by a heavily distorted guitar rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Mac Miller exploded onto the stage sporting his very own UW-Madison Badger football jersey. The crowd greeted him with cheers of grateful appreciation, and echoed his opening song back to him. Reminiscent of fourth quarters at Camp Randall, Mac Miller was successful in getting the entire crowd on their feet with repeated requests of, “Jump! Jump! Jump!”
Miller shared Prof’s sentiments on Madison’s partying, stating, “I have never seen anything like this in my life. You guys are some crazy mother fuckers!”
Satisfied with catching at least one of the headliner’s songs, I and herds of other costumed attendants made our way towards the exit, out into the streets filled with frenzied party-goers, feet still tapping to the sounds of the concerts, which could be heard clearly blocks away.